The Parable of the Talents
This sermon was preached at the IGH Family Service, Sunday 3 November 2013
Matthew Chapters 24 and 25 make up one body of teaching called the ‘Olivet discourse’ because of the location of the teaching by the Lord Jesus: on the mount of Olives.
The Olivet discourse is the single longest answer that the Lord provides for any question asked. The question is posed by the disciples in Matt 24:3; when will the second coming occur and what are the signs of this? The disciples had been perplexed, aghast at the statement of the Lord concerning the temple in Jerusalem in Matt 24:2.
Matt 24:4-29, gives specific signs that will proceed the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matt 24:32-33 in the parable of the fig tree. The Lord says look at the branch becoming tender and putting on leaves, these are more signs pointing to My second advent.
Matt 24:43-44, again Jesus is emphasising His second advent.
Matt 24:46, Another re-emphasis of the fact of Jesus’s second advent.
So in summary then Matthew Chapter 24 emphasises the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 25:1-13 is the importance of being prepared for this certainty – the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The importance of being prepared for the certainty of the second coming is through faith in Christ. There is only way that we can meet our creator and that is by accepting who He is as revealed in the word of God, The Bible, and by accepting who we are – sinners set apart from God and in need of a saviour.
Matt 25:14-30 emphasise what this faith looks like. How can we look within ourselves to ensure we are prepared? Who is a possessor of true saving faith – it is very hard to distinguish eg Matt 7:22. Also in Matt 7:24-27, in the parable of the two identical outwardly looking houses there is only one that stands.
Matt 13:24-30, parable of the wheat and the tares. The tares are indistinguishable from the wheat.
Matt 26:20-25, Jesus tells the disciples that one of them was going to betray Him. Again they were aghast, dumbstruck by this revelation. The disciples themselves weren’t sure who the betrayer was, they didn’t all point to Judas, they asked “is it I” in Matt 26:22.
In 2 Cor 13:5, we are asked to examine ourselves/test ourselves to see whether we are in the faith.
The parable itself is relatively easy to understand.
The Master is the Lord Jesus. The journey mentioned in Matt 25:14 is the time period between His first advent and His second; This may be a subtle hint to His disciples that He was going to be away a long time (Matt 25:19) in response to the immediacy of the disciples expectations (Luke 19:11).
The servants are those who profess faith in Christ.
It is encouraging to note that the Master has intimate knowledge of us all, as He entrusts ‘to each according to his ability’ (Matt 25:15). We live in a largely impersonal world, and so it is comforting to know that the God of all creation knows our own abilities.
A talent is approximately 75 lb of weight. Therefore one talent of 9ct gold would be £10 million in todays money, if this was silver it would be in the region of £16,500.
However the value of the talent is not important, but rather the range of responsibilities given, e.g. Rom 12:4-8, 1 Cor 12:4-11. Those who are redeemed all have spiritual gifts so the key thing is to use them for the glory of God, the God who saves.
The servants who were given 5 and 2 talents respectively kept trading them until the Master returned. Saving faith in Christ produces work, James 2:21-26. Faith and works go hand in glove; it is faith working that produces works.
This is a key way determining whether we have faith that saves. We are new creations when we get saved. The Spirit of Christ within gives us the ability to glorify the Father.
The servant who was given 1 talent dug it and hid it. This is valid if you want to keep it safe but not such a good strategy if you want to use it as a resource. He didn’t even put it in a bank to collect interest! 1 Cor 2:14-16, this man is not a spiritual person therefore his man is an unbeliever.
So the Master returns (Matt 25:19). It is important to note that he didn’t call all three together to give an account collectively. Salvation is not a corporate thing, we all have individual accountability. We cannot bask in the good works of others.
The Master is fair; shall not the judge of all the earth do what is just? (Gen 18:25). The Masters response is a wonderful reality. The God of all creation will say to His redeemed creatures ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ regardless of what responsibility had been entrusted to them!
Heaven will not merely be endless perfection, but also there will be endless opportunities to work and to serve the Lord God on the throne. There will be different degrees of service depending upon how faithful we are with the gifts entrusted to us by the Master. Ultimately though if we are genuinely saved we will all enter into the divine joy of being with Christ, to worship and gaze upon Him who redeemed us.
What of the wicked servant? He identifies himself as being a slave of the Lord – he professes faith in Christ. He doesn’t waste his Masters money, he had kept it secure and safe but he had a false view of the character of his Master (Matt 25:24-25). This is not the character of God. Phil 2:5-9. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The wicked servants false view came from his own corrupt nature. He was not saved, not at all. There was no saving faith to energize his works.
Matt 25:28 is very significant. Those who are living in the glory and honor of Christ will get more added to them. The Master commanded that the wicked servant’s small amount of responsibility be taken from him and given to the first servant, who had shown great responsibility.
Help us to examine ourselves to determine whether we have the faith that saves. We thank you Lord God for the spiritual enabling at the point of salvation so we can do good works for the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.