The trouble with the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14 – 30) is that most of us have heard it so often that we think we know what it’s about, and so we skip over it without further consideration. We may know the conventional interpretation of the parable, but is that necessarily all there is to it? After all, there is no correct way to understand a parable. Parables are by definition stories that are to be understood by the reader in whatever way makes sense to them. Today in the sermon we will consider a
couple of possible interpretations. Both or neither might be what Jesus had in mind when he told the story. The important thing is that we think carefully about the story and let it sow its seeds in our consciousness and in our hearts; and that, as time goes on, we allow those growing seeds to change us and our attitudes and behaviour if they need to. Perhaps this
parable will encourage us to be more entrepreneurial and less risk-averse in
seeking God’s rule and reign (‘Kingdom’); or conversely, it might encourage
us to be more faithful in guarding God’s precious gifts without worldly
corruption. Whichever way we read the parable, the important thing is that
we are willing to act upon it. True faith requires an active response.
The context of Jesus telling this parable is the last week of Jesus’ earthly
life, when he is teaching each day at the Temple about the nature of God’s
rule, and warning people to keep watch for ‘the coming of the Son of Man in
his glory’. The point is that whenever that great event occurs, Jesus’
followers need to be careful that in the meantime they are seeking God’s
Kingdom, and working toward it in their lives and relationships. The apostle
Paul takes up the theme in 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11. He writes that whenever
the Lord comes, it will happen suddenly and take many of us by surprise. He
encourages us to ‘stay alert and clear-headed, protected by the armour of
faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation’.
Their salvation is assured through Jesus’ death for them on the cross. They
are to concentrate on living as ‘people of the day’.