14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Please, let it be clear, the talents in this parable are not skills like singing, dancing, juggling, playing the harmonica, and pulling a rabbit out of a hat. A talent is a sum of money, in fact, a large sum of money. One talent is equivalent to twenty years’ wages. The master freely gives it away. No conditions. No instructions. No expectations. To one five talents, to another two, and to another one – each according to his ability. One-hundred-sixty years’ wages. Maybe, he needed to lighten his fat wallet before he goes away.
Two of those servants do very well with the money and double it. The third is a total flop. He digs a hole in the ground. Like a broody hen warming an unfertilized egg, he sits on his master’s money in a way that nothing will be lost, but certainly nothing will be gained. What was his problem? The third servant was terrified of his master because he believes wrong things about his master. And in his fear, he does nothing.
This third servant didn’t know his master well at all. His own words condemn him, “I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. So, I was afraid. And I went and hid the money in the ground.”
Imagine the master. He has given away – with no strings attached – 160 years’ wages, and is called a hard, demanding, cruel, even violent man. Well, there is nothing to do except treat that wicked servant exactly how he believes. The master condemns the servant and casts him into the outer darkness where there is nothing but weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But this is not how the master really is. The master is actually merciful, gracious, and giving. The first servant who was given five talents gets to keep those five. And more than that, he gets to keep the extra five he profited, and he gets the eleventh talent as well. Since when do servants get to keep the principle, the interest, and on top of that get bonuses?
Here is the point of the parable. However you believe God to be is how He is to you. If you believe God to be a deity who demands that you work and slave to get back into His good graces, that is how He will be to you. But if you believe God to be merciful, forgiving, gracious, patient, loving, and kind, that is how He will be to you. So, how is your God? How is your Master?
Jesus is the Master in this parable, and He gives His Kingdom away. He empties the treasuries of His palace and gives it to His servants. Your God is not a hard man who reaps where He does not sow. He sows for others. He sows for you to reap. And to you, who have been given much in the waters of Holy Baptism and made His heirs, He gives even more. Your faith is multiplied like money well-invested.
The God who has bestowed gifts to you is coming back. He has given you life, house, family. He has blessed you with everything you need for this life. He has given you His Word. But, most importantly, He has given you Jesus, His Son, who has poured out His precious, holy, innocent blood to remove your sin from you as far as the east is from the west. Because of the abundance He has given to you, you don’t need to be afraid of losing it. So, use what He has given!
One of Aesop’s fables goes like this: A mouse lived near a magician’s house, but the mouse was terrified of cats. In pity for the mouse, the magician turned the mouse into a cat. But then the mouse, who was now a cat, feared the dog. So, the magician turned it into a dog. But then that dog feared the tiger. So, the magician said, “Be a mouse again. Since you only have the heart of a mouse, it is impossible to help you by giving you the form of a noble animal.”
God has made you who you are. And, yes, maybe God hasn’t physically given you as much as He has given others. But use what God has given you for the furthering of His kingdom. He has given you the precious blood of Christ poured out for you on the cross. He has given you His name to call upon Him in prayer. He has given you brothers and sisters in Christ who need to be strengthened and encouraged by your words and by your example.
Jesus is your gracious master who takes of His own property, that which is His, that which He earned, and gives it to you. And then, in the end, allows you to keep it not only as stewards, but as a dear beloved child.
So, use what God has given you, and on the last day, you also will hear your Savior say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.