Delivered at ARK Community Church, Dalton MA, November 16, 2014.
Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents (The Voice Bible)
The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 has always left me a little uneasy. For one thing, parables, by intent, are meant to end with a question mark: leaving their audience with an anxious and counterintuitive decision that they would rather not face and can’t quite pin down. And yet, in this parable, the answer seems pretty clear – “Put our God-given talents to use.” In fact, this is so widely accepted that the word “Talent” itself came to be used in the English language as a reference to our God-given gifts because of this parable; transformed from its ancient use as a word for a standard measure of great wealth.
So, from that point alone, I am curious as to whether the traditional interpretation that we’ve probably all heard in many sermons is actually in line with the intent of Matthew’s Gospel, or Jesus’ intent, for that matter.
Increasing my unease is this: Jesus is the Social Revolutionary, constantly campaigning against the evils of privilege and position and power. And yet, in this story, the person who already holds position and power seems to be eager to acquire even more through the efforts of others, and engages with his servants in ways that would have been perceived by the original audience as unfair and dishonest.
But first, let’s look at the setting for this parable… It is part of a very clear and intentional sequence of events and teachings in Matthew’s narrative, all of which focus on the issue of the return of Christ.