MATTHEW 65.The Servants Talents
Matthew 25:14-30 New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Bags of Gold
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Jesus is continuing is teachings on the Mount of Olives, teaching of the end of days and the new humanity that is being produced because of what He is about to do. Tonight we come to a parable of a Master, his servants and what they do with what He gives them. The main focus of this teaching, though, is the way the servants see the master will drive their response to his generosity.
So let’s just dive right in and look at, firstly,
1. The crisis of generosity
The first thing that we pick up in this parable is that every servant receives from the master. I have used the NIV this evening because it translates “τάλαντον” to bags of gold. Because this word which is sometimes talent can mean up to 91kg of gold. So 5 talents of gold is huge, in fact even 1 talent is probably more money than anyone in the crowd would see in their entire life.
Jesus uses this parable to show the absolutely unbelievable generosity of this master. This is a theme in the teachings of Jesus. The master – who is, obviously, God – is shown to be more generous that he should be. And here this lesson is repeated.
God is pictured as a master who gives abundant gifts. This is a picture of the God of the Bible; He is a generous God who gives abundant gifts to his people, and according to Jesus even to the wicked. He is a God who gives good gifts.
Even in the response to the faithful servants there is another sign of the goodness and generocity of the master, He says, “you have been faithful, receive more, and come and share in my happiness – my delight.”
Everything about this master is abundant and good. This is a reflection of the God of this world.
He is the God who has made an abundant world, in an abundant universe, and has given this as a gift to mankind.
Now many of you might be sitting here thinking; the world doesn’t look generous, it looks like things are running out of things everywhere.
The language of today is one of chronic fear over their not being enough; over-population over-grazing; claim-change etc. All these are a world clambering for scarce resources at the expense of others.
We see the world as inherently lacking and therefor it is totally justified in doing what is needed to get mine. This leads to increasingly scarcity minded behaviour which in turn creates more scarcity.
It is those who embrace the generosity of the master that create more according to their ability.
However, it is those who mistrust the master; who think him harsh and who deny his good nature; this scarcity mentality takes over and they are paralyzed by fear.
Which leads us to the second point tonight;
2. The crisis of fear
This insanely generous amount was given to all the servants, according to their ability. The one who receive the least; went out and buried his because he was overtaken by the fear of the mentality he had of this master.
Look at his response when the master calls him out. He says;
‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
This servant sees the master as not good but hard, he sees the masters success as a sign of his (in his eyes) “obvious” cruelty. And so paralyzed by fear simply buries this treasure.
The master responds with, “you wicked and lazy servant.” He was afraid, and the master calls him wicked and lazy.
Now you might be tempted to think that this confirms the servants fears. However, look at what is being communicated here and it will become a powerful lesson to us today.
The overarching theme that Jesus is trying to set up is the overwhelmingly, even absurd, generosity of the master. This is contrasted by the response of the last servant.
The way we could communicate this to our day would be imagine there was a good parent who gave each of his children a brand new top of the range Mercedes, each according to their ability; however, the last child responded that I don’t trust dad he just wants to control me (even though this is not true – as seen clearly by the other children’s response), so I refuse to drive it. Our response to that is that person is a spoiled child.
This is what Jesus is getting here; the servant had no right to call the master hard, he had no reason to fear him. In fact everything that the master has had done confirms the complete opposite of the assumption of the last servant.
Now, apply this to our modern age; apply this to yourself. Often the accusations that we hurl upon God, are unfounded and the complete opposite of his true character and goodness.
He is the God who has made this beautiful and abundant world we see all around us. He has revealed Himself in His Word as omnibenevolent (without limit of his goodness). He is eternally loving.
But we experience bad in this world, real injustice and real evil. And our response to this is generally the accusation of God. “God why is this happening to me.”
Even worse than this is the general tendency we have to see God as a hard task master, who is just waiting for us to mess up so that he can punish us. God has revealed Himself as a generous and good God, humanity shakes it’s collective fist at Him and calls Him a killjoy, a tyrant, grumpy God who wants to ruin our fun.
And it is this fear, mistrust and mischaracterisation of God that causes us to act as this final servant acts – in fear, which paralyzes any hope of success.
Have you ever noticed that the more fearful you are of something, the more you are paralyzed in actually doing it. Because of this you miss out on the joy of doing it. for example; you have a test coming up, that you are stressed about failing, so because you are stressed and afraid you can’t seem to find the motivation to actually prepare, which makes you more stressed and afraid, which demotivates you more. And so it goes.
We miss out on the generous adventure of this life because we are paralyzed by our fear, a fear that stems from a mischaracterisation of God.
This leads me to;
3. The crisis of faith
You might be sitting here thinking, this all sound wonderfully naïve. So, I am just supposed to ignore the bad in my life, and trust that things will just get better? Well, no. I am not saying that. In fact, if you follow the logic and teaching of Jesus you might find the opposite conclusion. Things might not get better, in fact, it is almost certainly going to get worse. Jesus has many warnings and suggestions that this life is going to be hard especially for those who follow Him.
Jesus is not telling us to just hope that life is going to work out and get better. That would be a hope beyond hope. That would be sinfully naïve. What Jesus is calling us to (and what I believe when we get will result in the generous new humanity that Jesus was calling us to) is to see God for who He is; who He has revealed Himself to be in His Word. He is a abundantly generous God, who has done more for us that we could ever imagine.
Jesus is calling us to trust in the generosity of the Father. To trust in it in spite of the hardships of this life.
And if you are asking how? Am I supposed just ignore what is wrong in my life.
My answer to you is absolutely not. In fact, if it was just wishful thinking we would be in a worse place than if we simply accepted the bad in our life. Because we would be deluding ourselves.
No, we trust in the abundant generosity of God by looking at what he gave us; and if we fully grasp what he has given us we would never doubt what He promises us.
What has he given us? God has given us the immeasurable gift of His one and only Son. Now, we have all heard this before, but have you realised the generosity of that gift. I don’t think we do; or we would see life very differently.
God has lavished upon you FAR more than you could ever deserve. A gift of himself for a sinner. If we get that then everything, and I mean everything is a privilege and a gift.
What do we deserve? We deserve the consequence of our sin, we deserve punishment and hardship, because none of us here (not one) could say that we have never done anything wrong and so truly deserver the good things in this life.
In fact, often we justify ourselves by saying I am not that bad. Recognise that is the admission of guilt.
But in spite of that, in spite of what you have done. God has generously given you Jesus, so that if you believe in Him He welcomes you fully into the family of God.
If we get this, church, everything is a gift. Am I suffering? Well,I deserve worse. Am I going through hardship, God has been merciful I deserve far, far worse. And yet God has given me abundantly more, He has given me grace, He has given me life, His Son, and through that the promise that in the life to come I will be His and He will be mine forever!
God is a generous God! Look at the cross and see that anew again.