Matthew 25:14-30 (New International Version) The Parable of the Talents

 14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents[a] of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.  
16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent 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. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. 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 the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; 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 the one talent 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. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent 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? 27Well 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" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
 
 
Another Parable of the Talents,[1] Matt. 25: 14-30, Nov. 16, 2008

There once was a village chief with three sons. Each of them had a
special talent. The oldest knew all about raising olive trees. The
people of the village traded olive oil to passing peddlers in exchange
for tools and cloth, so the first son's talent was very important to
them.

The second son was a shepherd. If the sheep became sick, he knew better
than anyone else did how to make them well again, so this son's talent was
also very important.

The third son was a dancer. When the villagers were down on their luck
or bored from the tedium of work, he could cheer them again better than
anyone else could. So his talent was important too.

Now the village chief had to go on a long journey, so he called his
three sons together and said, "My sons, the villagers are depending on
you. Each of you has a special talent for helping people. While I am
gone, see that you use your talents as wisely and well as you can, so
that when I return I will find our village even more happy and
prosperous then it is now." With these words, he embraced his sons and
confidently departed.

For a while, things went well, but when the cold winds began to blow the
village fell on hard times. No one could remember such a bitterly cold
winter. The buds on the olive trees shrank and cracked. Seeing them,
the first son knew that it would take the trees a long time to recover.

Soon the villagers had run out of firewood, so they went to the first
son and begged him to cut down the trees. At first, he would not hear of
it, but finally he relented. "Very well, cut them down," he said, for
he knew it would be foolish to save the trees only to lose the village.

Now, the ice and snow made it impossible for traders to travel on the
river or get through the mountain pass, so the villagers hadn't enough
to eat. "Please," they said to the second son, "let us kill the sheep
and eat them so that we do not starve."

"I am a doctor to your sheep," he replied. "How can I bear to have them
killed?" But they pleaded and pleaded with him. So finally, he consented
and gave the sheep to the hungry villagers, for he knew that the only
purpose of healing sheep was to help the village prosper; and what good
would it do to spare the sheep only to have the villagers perish?

In this way, the villagers got just enough wood for their fires and food
for their tables. Nevertheless, the bitter winter had broken their
spirit, so they began to think things were worse then they really were.
They lost hope, became desperate, and family by family they deserted
the village in search of a better home.

Just as spring was beginning to loosen the cold grip of winter, the
village chief returned to find smoke rising only from his own chimney.
Astonished and troubled, he rushed into the house, surprising his three
sons. "What have you done?" he wailed, "What has become of the
villagers?"

"Oh, please, father, forgive me, for I have forsaken my talent," said
the first son. "The people were freezing and they begged me to cut down
the trees, so I did. I am no longer fit to be an orchard keeper."

"Don't be angry, father," said the second. "It grew so cold that the
sheep would surely have frozen anyway. Moreover, the villagers were starving,
so I gave them the sheep. My talent went for naught, for I had to send
the flock to slaughter."

"My sons don't be ashamed," said the father. "True, the village is not
happier and more prosperous than I left it, but you did your best to
make it so. And you did use your talents wisely, for you tried in the
only way you knew how to save your people. But tell me, what has become
of them?"

The two brothers' eyes fixed upon the third son, who replied, "Welcome
home, father. We had so little firewood and food while you were away.
It hardly seemed proper to dance during such suffering. And besides, I
wanted to conserve my strength so that when you returned I would be
able to welcome you with my talent."

"Then dance, my son," said the father, "for my village is empty and so
is my heart. Fill it with joy and courage once again. Please, dance."

But as the third son went to get up, he grimaced and fell. His legs
were so stiff and sore from sitting that they were no longer fit for
dancing.

With so much sadness in his heart that there was scarcely room for
anger, the father said to him, "Ours was a strong village. It could
have survived the want of fuel and food, but not without hope.
 
And because you failed to use your talent wisely and well, our people gave
up what little hope they had left. Now the village is deserted and you
are crippled. Your punishment has already befallen you."

And with these words, he embraced his three sons and wept.
                                                                        ------
Prof. ThomasC.Davis, III
 

HenriNouwen, the late priest, scholar, and devotional writer explores the son/father and servant/master relationship in many of his writings. In "The Prodigal Son" book he writes, "Here lies hidden the great call to conversion: to look not with the eyes of my own low self-esteem, but with the eyes of God's love.
As long as I keep looking at God as a landowner, as a father who wants to get the most out of me for the least cost, I cannot but become jealous, bitter and resentful toward my fellow workers or my brothers and sisters.
But if I am able to look at the world with the eyes of God's love and discover that God's vision is not that of a stereotypical landowner or patriarch but rather that of an all-giving and forgiving father who does not measure out his love to his children according to how well they behave, then I quickly see that my only true response can be deep gratitude.[2]



Scholar Helmut Thielicke, in writing on today's text says that when unforeseen circumstances complicate life a common response is worry. Worry can either cripple or motivate. (Three sons/servants, but two different responses.) Thielicke writes,
"We should not artificially turn away from our [worries] by constantly listening to the radio, for example, or running to the movies, or some other kind of busywork, but rather direct our cares to him who wills to bear and share all our sin and all our suffering and therefore all our cares.
No diversion, but directing our cares. This is what to do. Jesus did not say: Look at the ostrich, how it buries its head in the desert sand and so tries to escape the fear of danger. No, he said: Look at the birds of the air, keep your eyes open, stand up straight and look to the heights where God makes known his grace and care."[3]

As believers, -- as servants of the great Master -- we have something even greater than just using our talents to the best of our abilities. We have a loving Savior who wants to see us do well; to succeed with whatever he has given us to do.

Rev. RosemaryStelz


 
1 This is a copyrighted piece by Prof.ThomasC.Davis, III, who gives permission for it to be used in Christian education, preaching, or for other teaching purposes in your church. The piece emerged, he says, from wondering what the master might have said if the first two servants from Jesus' parable of the talents (Luke19:12-27; Matthew 25:14-30) had not brought back a return on the money entrusted to them, but rather, had lost it.
[2] HenriJ.Nouwen in The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, quoted in Christianity Today, October 26, 1998, 88.
[3] HelmutThielicke, Life Can Begin Again (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963), 143.
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