Summary: Sixth in this series. The Parable of the Talents show that what I have with what I have been given reveals what I really think about God.
Over fifty years ago A. W. Tozer wrote his classic book, The Knowledge of the Holy. In his preface, he described why he wrote the book:
The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshipping men. The she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic.
Unfortunately, I think it is pretty obvious that not only has the situation not improved at all over the last 50 plus years – it has actually deteriorated even further.
The parable that we’ll examine this morning certainly illustrates the main thesis of Tozer’s book, which is found in the first sentence of chapter 1:
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
Will you read that sentence out loud with me?
We don’t need to take much time to put this parable into context since it comes immediately after the Parable of the Ten Virgins that we focused on last week.
The disciples have just asked Jesus to tell them more about His future return and Jesus answers their question in what we usually refer to as the Olivet Discourse, which we find in chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew’s gospel account. In addition to His explanation of future events, Jesus uses several object lessons and illustrations and then tells a series of four parables. The Parable of the Talents, which is the subject of the message today, is the third of the four parables.
Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Matthew 25 and follow along as I read beginning in verse 14:
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
(Matthew 25:14-30, ESV)
This is certainly one of the best known of all Jesus’ parables. So it stands to follow that it is also one that has prolific amounts of commentary sermons that deal with it. Let’s see if we can’t confirm that.
How many of you are familiar with this parable? [Wait for show of hands]
And how many of you have ever heard a sermon on this parable? [Wait for show of hands]
Finally based on your knowledge of this parable and the sermons you’ve heard, what would you say is the main point of the parable?
[Wait for answers]
In your responses, I think you’ve pretty much covered the wide variety of ways that various commentators and pastors have used this passage. And at least most of those are perfectly legitimate takes on the parable, although at least in my view, some of them seem to miss the main point Jesus is trying to make here.