Sermon Outline On Matthew 25:14-30
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. ” ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
How are you at playing Bible Trivia? Let’s see how well you do? “In what parable are servants given money to invest?” Is the answer, The Parable of the Talents? Listen and see if you agree.
Read Matthew 25:14-30
Three servants were given money, lots of money. In the day of Jesus one talent was the equivalent of 15 years wages for a day laborer. There is no question that this parable is speaking of a great deal of money given to three servants by their master. Were they asked to invest the money? Were they given any kind of specific instructions about what to do with the money?
Initially we are only told a couple of things about this exchange. First of all we are told that the master “ENTRUSTED his property to them.”Â Â Â This word entrust is viewed two different ways in the Oxford University Press Dictionary. To entrust with means to “assign a responsibility to.” To entrust to means “to put (something) into someone’s care.” The talents are “entrusted” to the servants, but they are not told exactly what to do.
This parable told by Jesus is sandwiched between two other parables in Matthew’s gospel. All three parables deal with judgement that is to come. He tells a parable of bridesmaids who bring their lamps as they wait for the groom. The groom is delayed and half the bridesmaids run out of oil. With the news that the groom is coming, these unprepared women return to their homes to get more oil. By the time they return, they are too late.
Jesus also tells the parable of separating the sheep from the goats. One on his right hand and the other on his left. It is in this parable that we learn that it is good to care for others. Jesus speaks of blessing and inheriting the kingdom as he says, “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Matthew 25:35-36 (NRSV)
All three of these parables deal with what do we do as we wait. They deal with the “in between” time. That time between Jesus leaving this earth and the time of his return. What do we do as we wait? What do we do in the “in between” time?
The master leaves and the master returns. In between, three servants are entrusted with the master’s property. It is not theirs. It belongs to the master. Sounds a lot like stewardship, doesn’t it? One is entrusted with 5 talents, one with 2 and one servant with one talent. What do they do in the “in between” time? The one with 5 talents earns 5 more. The one with 2 talents earns 2 more. The one with 1 talent safely buries it so he can return it safely to the master. This one hears words of condemnation, “You wicked, lazy servant!” The other two servants hear those words we have often heard quoted, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
To be good and faithful has nothing to do with obedience to clear instructions. To be good and faithful has nothing to do with the magnitude of the responsibility, 5, 2, or 1 talent. The number of talents is not important. What is important is what one does with that entrusted to him or her while the master is gone — in that “in between” time.
In a little bit of verse, Robert Richardson, a nineteenth century writer who paraphrased the Greek poet Horace, wrote that there are three things that will never return no matter how much we pray or weep. He said they were (1) the arrow shot from the bow, (2) the spoken word, and (3) the unimproved opportunity.
One servant missed the opportunity to be faithful and good with that which had been entrusted to him. Five foolish brides missed the critical moment. Those placed to the left side of the Son of Man were those who missed the opportunities to feed the hungry, to offer a drink to the thirsty, to welcome the stranger, to cloth the naked, to care for the sick, and to visit the prisoner.
Did you know the word “talent” came into the English language in the Middle Ages as a term for God given ability? It took on that meaning as a result of the wide spread circulation of this parable.
You have heard this parable expanded beyond the idea of being entrusted with money. You have heard this parable applied to your God given abilities and their responsible use. Is it possible to take this parable to even another level?
Fred Smith once wrote in Leadership magazine, “God entrusts us with money as a test [I prefer preparation]; for like a toy to the child, it is training for handling things of more value.”
God has entrusted us with not only money and our God given abilities, but also the most valuable of all, each other. Those created in God’s image have been entrusted to one another in this “in between” time. Those who will witness lit candles this night have been entrusted to us. Those who light candles tonight have been entrusted to us. And yes, those who have not seen the light of Jesus Christ have been entrusted to us.
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.
The Winner: A four year old boy whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
When his mother asked him what he said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”
The parable says that each servant was entrusted with a different amount according to his ability. We all have ability, and we will all be held accountable.
What will we do in this in between time–that time between Jesus’ leaving and Jesus’ return? How well do we accept the responsibility for that entrusted to us? Oh, I long to hear those words some day from our Master, Jesus Christ, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Many of you know of Corrie Ten Boom and have read her books. Corrie spent her young adult years in Nazi concentration camps because her family dared to offer comfort to Jews in the name of Jesus. Can we say with the same confidence of Corrie Ten Boom, “Although the threads of my life have often seemed knotted, I know, by faith, that on the other side of the embroidery there is a crown?”