In ancient Old Testament days, weights and measures were based upon approximations. For example, linear measurements were based on a cubit, the length of a man’s forearm, about eighteen inches. To measure weight, a small stone was considered a shekel.
Archeologists have unearthed scales with small stones having the inscription: shekel. These stones vary in actual weight but are consistently in the neighborhood of four-tenths of an ounce. A talent was three-thousand shekels or about seventy-five pounds.
In Jesus’ last recorded parable, the master gave his servants talents. The master didn’t give one the talent or ability to play the banjo and to another the aptitude for underwater basket weaving. The master gave a talent, presumably of gold… a bunch of gold.
Here’s the story… A rich landowner was “about to go on a journey. He called his own servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent depending on each one’s ability”(Matthew 25:14-15).
The master knew his servants. He knew “each one’s ability” and he “entrusted his possessions to them” based upon what he knew. By grace, these servants became the trustees of their master’s estate.
One talent of gold… seventy-five pounds… twelve-hundred ounces… at today’s value ($1,900 per ounce) … two-million, two-hundred-eighty thousand dollars.
Two talents of gold… four million, five-hundred-sixty thousand dollars.
Five talents of gold… eleven-million, four-hundred thousand bucks!
Add that up… eighteen-million and change… quite an estate!
While the master journeyed, he trusted his servants to steward his lavish estate… and they did. With hard work and wise investments, the servant who was given five talents, doubled his master’s money. Likewise, the steward who was entrusted with two talents, doubled his master’s value. To these faithful servants, the master said, “Well done, good and faithful servant!... Share your master’s joy” (Matthew 25:21, 23). “But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money” (Matthew 25:18). He was given an opportunity, but he rejected it. To this man, the master spoke harshly. “You evil, lazy servant … take the talent from him… throw this good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:26-30).
What’s the point?
Jesus told this parable just before He went to the cross. He was “about to go on a journey” (Matthew 25:14). While our Master is away, He has entrusted His estate to us. He’s left us to work hard and invest well. The unfaithful will be eternally rejected. Faithful servants will “share the Master’s joy.”
Image the sound of our Master’s trumpeting voice… “Well done…”