Monday, November 14, 2011

The Parable of the Talents



In Matthew 25: 14 – 30 Jesus is still talking to His disciples about the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. He says it will be like a man who goes away and leaves his servants with various amounts of his wealth. He gives one servant 5 “talents”, to another he gives two talents and to the third only one. In the Greek what he gives is “talenton” which is a measure of money. A talent of silver in Israel weighed 100 pounds and a talent of gold weighed 200 pounds. It’s pretty obvious therefore that even the servant who received one talent was entrusted with great wealth.

If I try interpreting just the first few verses of this parable I find that Jesus is the master who goes away and leaves his servants, us, with great wealth “each according to his own ability”. The Greek for ability is “dunamis” from which we get the word dynamite, but what is meant here is power, work or strength. Like the three servants we are given “talents” according to our ability. It’s quite fortunate that in English we understand the symbolism of the Greek money word immediately.

Now, what did the servants do with their “talents”? The first two doubled their money and when the master returned he praised them and rewarded them equally. (I really like that equality. Does it mean that if I work to the best of my ability for the Lord that I will be rewarded the same as someone like Billy Graham? I think so.)

The third servant buried his talent. That’s actually not so crazy since it was a common practice in Bible times to bury treasure for safety. But we’re not supposed to bury the treasure the Lord entrusts to us. Whereas the master calls the first two servants “good and faithful”, he calls the third one “evil and lazy”. He takes back that single talent and gives it to the one who had the most and then makes these startling statements: “For 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. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

There are a number of people who don’t want to hear the old “fire and brimstone, hell and damnation” sermons, but Jesus mentions this awful darkness and weeping and teeth-gnashing three other times (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, Luke 13:28). You can also find it in Psalm 112:10. What are we supposed to decipher from this? Can you comment, please?