What has been called “The Olivet Discourse” was Jesus’ sermon delivered to His disciples just a couple of days before His crucifixion. “While (Jesus) was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ ” (Matthew 24:3, CSB).
To help His curious disciples understand what was unfolding, Jesus told the Parable of the Talents. “It is just like a man 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. Then he went on a journey” (Matthew 25:14-15, CSB).
Jesus is the man on the journey... a very long journey that has lasted two-thousand years. While away, He’s entrusted His servants with his possessions.
To one servant, He gave five talents. To another he gave two talents, and to the other, one talent. That may not sound like much, but a talent was equivalent to six-thousand denarii. A denarii was the wage earned by a laborer for working one day, so a talent was what a blue-collar guy would earn in about twenty years. If the laborer made thirty-thousand dollars in a year, the servant given five talents received about three-million bucks. Did I do the math right? To the second man, He gave 1.2 million dollars. And to the other, six-hundred thousand. The Master delivered enormous resources to His workers.
The first two men doubled their money. They took their responsibilities seriously. They worked hard and invested well. The commendation from the Master was exactly the same. “Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy” (Matthew 25:21, 23, CSB).
The third worker, the guy who received one talent, could have doubled his money too. But he didn’t. He buried it. When the Master returned, he had the audacity to say to his boss, “You’re a harsh man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed” (Matthew 25:24, CSB). The Master’s replied, “You evil, lazy servant! If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and I would have received my money back with interest when I returned. So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents” (Matthew 25:26-28, CSB).
This parable illustrates that each of us must use what God has graciously given. To us, He has “entrusted his possessions” (Matthew 25:14, CSB). These “talents” include opportunities, abilities and spiritual gifts, as well as material possessions. We are God’s stewards.
We don’t know when the Master will return! When he does, He’ll demand an accounting! Let’s be ready! I want to hear Jesus say, “Well done!” I want to “share (His) joy” (Matthew 25:21, 23, CSB).