Church of the Good Shepherd

The Parable of the Talents

New Reality Show, like the Apprentice.

  • Live with Don Trump for 3 years
  • Learn how he does business
  • Get acquainted with his Rolodex, meeting his advisors & connections, getting to know his rivals & enemies
  • Three years working elbow-to-elbow with him.

Then, after three years of training, it’s your turn.

-          You get to make the deals

-          You get to build the business

-          You get to create opportunities, close down bad investments and expand “the Donald’s” business.

  • One person gets 5 billion dollars.
  • One person gets 2 billion dollars
  • One person gets 1 billion

-          And then “the Donald” bails on them.

  • No coaching
  • No tips
  • No firings
    • Just an undisclosed prize
    • To be given at an undisclosed time
    • For undisclosed reasons

-          This show isn’t called “The Apprentice.” 

-          It’s called “The Disciple.”

Sounds like an odd game?

As far as I can tell, that’s what’s going on in this parable.  Let me explain...

1.   Jesus is about to Leave the Disciples

A.  Setting – Just Before the Crucifixion

He has already entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday

-          Riding a colt

-          People throwing their coats on the ground

-          Waving Palm Branches

-          Yelling “Hosanna, Blessed Is He Who Comes In The Name Of the Lord.”

Within a few days, Jesus would be crucified.

He has been training them for 3 years.

But now it’s crunch time.

He has 3 or 4 days until He dies

After the Resurrection He’ll have another 40 or so

Not much time to help this rag-tag group take on the world

B.  The Disciples Will Need Direction, Confidence & Power

On their own, this thing is going to fall apart.

  • The disciples so far don’t really seem to get the point
  • They still want Jesus to pick up a sword and kill the Romans
  • They still don’t understand that Jesus’ main power, His main goal isn’t to build a nation … it is to save souls
    • Not a rebuilt Jerusalem with a strong army and political power to rival Rome
    • But a group of broken-but-saved people who learn to worship Jesus.

That’s why he’s teaching these parables here in Matthew 25

Matthew 24-25 all focus on Jesus coming back some day

We won’t know WHEN He’ll return

But we know for sure that HE WILL.

The questions lingering … Are We Ready … Will We Be Faithful?

-          Parable of the 10 Virgins  (just before this one)

  • Be Ready for the Master’s Return

-          Parable of the Sheep & Goats (just after this one)

  • When Jesus returns, there will be a final judgment

-          This one … what does faithfulness look like?

Is Faithfulness Simply Keeping The Truth Straight Until Jesus Returns?

-          Don’t abandon the Bible

-          Don’t fall into sin

-          Don’t change key doctrines

Many churches are doing this … changing important stuff

But many more churches are ONLY surviving until Jesus comes back.

If we can hold on, white-knuckled to our Bibles, maybe we’ll survive

D. A. Carson, “It is not enough for Jesus’ followers to ‘hang in there’ and wait for the end. They must see themselves for what they are—servants who owe it to their Master to improve what he entrusts to them. Failure to do so proves they cannot really be valued disciples at all.”

Is Faithfulness More Than Survival?

-          Not less than survival …making sure the Faith survives un-changed

-          But can faithfulness be MORE than that?

  • Not just holding on white-knuckled until the 2nd Coming of Jesus

-          Maybe Faithfulness has to do with RISK

-          Maybe Faithfulness has to do with understanding the HEART of Jesus’ mission … not just the Words He spoke

2.  “The Talents” stand for God’s Power to Do His Work

A.  Literal Money

The English use of ‘talent’ for a natural (or supernatural) aptitude derives from this parable, and represents a common application of it to the need to ‘live up to our full potential’. But of course the Greek talanton is simply a sum of money, part of the story-content of the parable, and our interpretation should not be influenced by the subsequent use of the word in English. (Tyndale Commentary)

From J.M. Boice:
  • In Palestine, a talent was not a coin; it was a measure of weight.
  • Because coins could be of copper, silver, or gold, and Jesus does not specify the kind of coinage in his story, it is impossible to calculate how valuable the talents were.
  • Each talent was a large amount.
  • The footnote in the New International Version specifies “more than a thousand dollars,” but this amount is too low.
  • ESV Footnote is more accurate – “a talent is a monetary unit worth about 20 years wages for a laborer.”

B.   Talents are Tools to Carry Out the Master’s Business

Most people focus on how many talents each servant is given … I don’t think this is the point.

I think the point is that every person who has been an apprentice to Jesus is expected to carry out His business.

Why were the Talents given?

-          They weren’t given as a TEST

-          They were given because the Master was going Away

“For it [the Kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. ” (Matthew 25:14)

The servants are supposed to carry out the Master’s business while He is gone.

  • Continue doing what He Himself would have been doing if He had been there
  • Work on His behalf
  • Take initiative the way He would
  • Use the knowledge and experience acquired in the years of being associated with Him.

This Story Doesn’t Give Us a Test

This Story Gives Us an Identity 

We are Jesus’ trusted apprentices

Our job is to learn the ways Jesus ruled

And learn how to participate in His Work.

-          Speak as He spoke

-          Repenting and Forgiving

-          Praying & Blessing like He prayed and blessed

-          Discovering neighbors in unlikely places

3.  To Use Talents is To Expand the Business (Kingdom) of Jesus

What was Jesus Business here?

“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” ” (Luke 4:17–19, ESV)

Two Driving Questions:

Where Do We Most See the Effects Of The Fall In Our Community?

What Can We Actually Do To Bring Jesus’ Kingdom (His Power, His Grace & His Authority) Into Those Broken Places?

Where Do We Most See the Effects Of The Fall In Our Community?

  • People’s spiritual quest, but hatred for organized religion
  • Pornography addiction
  • Parenting Issues
    • Family Tree vs Family Vine
  • Poverty
  • Graffiti in new place next to 7-Eleven

What Can We Actually Do To Bring Jesus’ Kingdom (His Power, His Grace & His Authority) Into Those Broken Places?

To Work at These Questions is to Expand Jesus’ Kingdom into Our Community.

This kingdom of God life is not a matter of waking up each morning with a list of chores or an agenda to be tended to, left on our beside table by the Holy Spirit for us while we slept.  We wake up already immerse in a large story of creation and covenant, of Israel and Jesus, the story of Jesus and the stories Jesus told.  We let ourselves be formed by these formative stories, and especially as we listen to the stories that Jesus tells, get a feeling for the way he does it, the way he talks, the way he treats people, the Jesus way. – Eugene Peterson

4.  To Bury A Talent is to Keep Yourself Safe At The Cost of Kingdom Expansion

This is clearly a JUDGMENT STORY

More than judging between 5/2/1 Talents

Judge between Faithful & Faithless

Judgment with the Virgins, with the Sheep & Goats … and here too.

And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ” (Matthew 25:30, ESV)

The definition of FAITHLESSNESS is Non-Participation in Jesus Work Today.

 “…non-participation is not a casual matter.  However timidly or meekly enacted, non-participation is disobedience. …The story is unrelenting: self-serving minimalism is not an option.  There are no non-participants in Jesus’ kingdom.” - Eugene Peterson

We must avoid a “do nothing” Christianity.

 One commentator wrote, “To have done no harm is praise for a stone, not for a man.”

James 2:14–17

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

The Servant Was Faith-Less Because He Didn’t Really Know the 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, ” (Matthew 25:24, ESV)


…we can hardly fail to hear the angry, self-justifying, accusing tone of the servant who hid the master’s talent in the earth.

  • This accusation was not true.
  • The master was not a hard man.
  • He had been generous in giving his servants much wealth to work with.
  • But this man hated him.
  • We can hear his contempt as he resentfully throws his talent on the table. “Here is what belongs to you,” he says.
  • It was returned exactly as the master had given it, not a bit more and no less.

If his man had known what the Master really was like…his actions would have been different

Character of God


Theology Matters

5.  Do You Know That You Have A Talent Too?


Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. ” (John 16:7–15, ESV)

6. Risk Is Expected and Success is Promised

Our Success is Promised because the Success of the Word is Promised

 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ” (Isaiah 55:10–11, ESV)

Our ministry = WORD & SPIRIT


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