Summary: The Parable of the Talents calls for faithful services until the end when Jesus returns.
What To Do ‘Til Jesus Comes!
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: The veteran guides at the tourist park in the Alps say they have seen it happen time and time again. The day almost always begins the same way. This old story is worth hearing again today.
A few dozen tourists sign up for a day of mountain climbing. The brochure promises a never to be forgotten experience. The hike will take several hours total—up and back. It will be rugged but do-able. Parts are steep, some even a bit dangerous if you don’t follow directions.
By the eight o’clock departure time about two dozen hearty climbers are on hand. The half dozen guides distribute the gear—water bottles, backpacks, walking sticks, and plenty of first aid kits. The group starts at a rather casual pace. Some of the younger hikers encourage the guides to go a bit faster. There is lots of talking and joking. Some even try to start up a song or two. By the beginning of the second hour, the mood changes with the terrain. The incline is steeper. Breathing in the thinning air becomes harder. There is less talk. All attempts at singing have long since stopped. No one calls for the guides to pick up the pace.
Into the third hour, everyone’s legs, except for the best conditioned, are starting to ache from the uphill trek. A couple hikers have skinned knees on the loose rocks. Finally, the group rounds a bend in the trail. A beautiful mountain vista opens before their eyes. But the most beautiful site is the midway station nestled at the edge of an alpine meadow. A few in the group almost run the last dozen yards or so to the benches. Backpacks are tossed aside. Water bottles are opened with gusto. It is always this way the guides say. But the real story is yet to take place.
After a leisurely lunch, the head guide gathers the group for a pep talk before they head out for the rest of the climb. “You’ve done well,” he tells them. “I know it’s been tough for some of you but you held in there and you stayed together. That’s good. We should make the summit in less than two hours. I guarantee you have never seen anything like it all day. It makes the whole climb worth the effort. But the next hour or so of the climb is the toughest part, even a bit dangerous in spots. Tour policy requires me to tell you that if anyone wants, he can stay here.”
After the brief speech, most of the climbers energetically shake their heads and insist that there is no way they are going to stop. But there are always others who gaze around sheepishly, look down at their stocking feet they have been rubbing, and then stare up at the steep trail and the tall mountain. After a few questions, maybe a dozen or so decide to stay. You can see the relief on their faces.
A few minutes later, the group heads up the mountain. The dozen who stay behind are in unusually good spirits. They send the climbers off with a fair amount of good cheer. But as soon as they are to themselves, they begin laughing and joking about how glad they are not to be back on the trail. Some even congratulate one another for making the smarter, safer choice. Most rest for a while.
Then after about an hour and half, someone calculates that the climbers should be nearing the summit. A few will gather on the uphill side of the shelter and look toward the peak. Binoculars are pulled out. Someone spots the climbers high up the mountain almost to the summit. The resting group passes the binoculars around. They watch for their friends as they reach the mountain peak. They can just barely see the hikers jumping up and down, patting each other on the back, and pointing to scenes in the distance. The guides who have stayed behind tell the same story. It is always the same, they say! . . .
Today we are looking at the second of three parables in Matthew 25. Jesus offered these parables as illustrations for an important principle found Matthew 24. He had just shocked his disciples by predicting a day when the great Jewish temple they had just left would be destroyed. Not one stone would be left standing on another. They immediately jumped to the conclusion that such a catastrophe could only happen if the world were coming to an end. They asked him three questions: When is this going to happen? What will be the signs of your coming and the end of the age?