Sermon: Left In Charge of Great Riches Matthew 25:14-30

Truth Taught- Jesus’ coming will be sudden and unexpected, the faithful disciple will be found serving when He comes.

Introduction

Today, we have the third parable that Jesus talks about being ready for His Parousia.  Here, Jesus introduces us to three slaves who have been left in charge of very large sums of money.  Their Master leaves and is gone an extended period of time.  He leaves them in charge of His wealth.  Each of the three has been left with differing amounts but all very large amounts.  None are given specific instructions as to how they are to invest it.  Jesus simply tells us they have been entrusted with the Master’s property.

So far, these parables have been teaching us that the Master and/or the Bridegroom has gone away for a period of time.  The servants and the young girls have been left with certain responsibilities while He is away.  


Parable 1- The wise servant was entrusted with keeping his Master’s house running by caring for the other servants while his Master was away.  He was the manager of the house.  The wicked servant viewed the Master’s absence as a time to indulge his lust for power and wealth.  The Master returned suddenly and unexpectedly, the wise and faithful servant was rewarded and the wicked servant was assigned to the place where there will be great weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Parable 2- Here we saw the ten young girls who were to lead the Bridegroom into the wedding feast.  The wise had made preparation by bringing extra oil with them.  The foolish did not bring any oil and were not ready when the Bridegroom came.  

When the Bridegroom came suddenly and unexpectedly the wise were ready and the foolish were not.  The wise entered into the marriage feast with the Bridegroom and the door was shut.  The foolish were not permitted to enter because they were not prepared.  They did not know the Bridegroom and He did not know them.

Both previous parables have taught us that we must be prepared for Jesus’ coming.  We have been taught that no one knows the day or the hour.  We have been taught that He will return at an unexpected time.  No preparation can happen after He returns.  When He returns there will be a time of settling of accounts.

This third parable follows in order and Jesus highlights the same things as in the other parables but with a few important additions.  One must be ready for the Lords’ return.  Here is another Master/slave parable that Jesus uses to help us see the importance of being ready for His coming.

Matthew 25:14–30 (ESV) 

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.’ 

1.  Servants Entrusted with the Master’s Wealth

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.

Here, we see the same introduction.  The Kingdom of Heaven will be like…

This is what Christ coming will be like in a few different ways.  Yet, the overall thrust is the we, the Master’s servants must be ready.

Here we see that the servants are entrusted with massive wealth that their Master desires a return on His investment. 

Jesus tells us that the Master leaves His property with three of His servants while He is away.  One is entrusted with 5 talents, one 2 talents, and one with 1 talent.  Here, a talent is a weight of measurement on precious metal, probably gold.  Many have falsely seen this word, talent as some sort of gift or expertise someone possesses.  We use the word talent to show someone has a special gift or skill.  Someone who plays the flute well people might say, she has a lot of musical talent.  This is not what Jesus here is referring to.  A talent is a weight of gold.  It’s been estimated that a talent of gold is the amount of gold the average laborer would earn in twenty years.  In today’s value we estimate a talent would be about 1.5 million dollars.  The point is not found in estimating this amount precisely but in realizing it is a very significant sum of money.

We see that to each of the three servants, the Master left differing amounts according to their abilities.  to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

The Kingdom of God is not a one-size-fits-all but God has created us all different.  For the ones God has endowed with much, much is required.  For those He has endowed with a little less, less is required. 

Staying ready for Jesus’ coming, here, the Master’s return means that each disciple/servant should be busy with the Master’s affairs according to how he/she has been endowed.  

2.  The Servant’s Investments

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.

The first servant is what we might call an enthusiastic disciple.  He has been entrusted with much and is ready to carry out his Master’s affairs.  He went at once and began trading and investing the 5 talents of gold.  This is the picture of a faithful and happy disciple of Christ.  They are eager to help, to serve others within the Church and do what is needed.  They have a ministry within the family of believers and are ready to work and serve.  He was ready for his Master’s return.  

The second servant had received a lesser amount of wealth.  This disciple too is faithful to engage in service and used what he was entrusted with to carry out his Master’s affairs.  He was faithful as a disciple.  He too was ready whenever his Master returned.

The third servant had also received a large sum of money to trade with and invest.  The Master was expecting a return on this amount as well.  Rather than engaging in business, this servant was wicked and lazy.  No doubt if you asked him, he would tell you that he was being prudent.  However, Jesus calls him wicked and lazy.  

Why?  He did nothing.  He did not engage in business to increase his Master’s wealth but simply dug a hole and covered it up.

18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.

3.  The Master’s Sudden Coming and Settling of Accounts

A.  The Two Faithful Servants

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.’ 

This section begins with…19 Now after a long time.

Matthew 24:48–50 (ESV) 

48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 

Matthew 25:5 (ESV) 

As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 

At the Master’s return we can see very quickly that the accounts are settled and that He expected a return on His money.

The first two servants had doubled the Master’s money.  They were not afraid to take risks.  They were not lazy.  They were enthusiastic and excited to engage in trade and business.  We are not told what they did or how they invested but that’s really not important here.  What is important is that they were busy engaging in the business with their Master’s money.   

We may think here that the first servant had greater abilities.  Perhaps he had a PHD in business and the other had an Associate’s degree.  We are not told why one was given more?  Maybe he was older and had proven himself.  Who knows but the Master had His reason to give one 5 and the other 2 talents.  Each one made the same rate of return for the Master’s money.  100 percent profit is pretty good.  

They were both commended as doing well and they were both rewarded.  It’s in their rewards that Jesus opens the meaning of His parable.  It is an eschatological reward.  Their reward sounds a lot like heaven, doesn’t it?

 You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

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.’

B.  The Wicked and Lazy Servant

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

The third servant is characterized as being wicked and lazy.  His inaction could be attributed to self-interest much like the wicked servant in the first parable who wasted the interim time on himself.  Perhaps this servant thought, why waste all that effort to only increase my Master’s wealth?  What about me?  Since all the profit was going to the Master, he decided to simply bury it.  

His actions could be attributed to his fear and not really knowing his Master.  This goes along with his response.

‘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.

This wicked and lazy servant is so utterly evil that he is trying to blame his laziness on his Master.  Master, I knew you to be a hard man.  This is not at all true.  The Master is not hard but very caring and compassionate.  This wicked servant is saying something like this…
If in doing business I would have lost Your money then You would have demanded it from me anyway.  So, I was afraid and buried it.  It’s not really my fault.  As it is, here is Your money back…I kept it safe.

The Master saw through this lame excuse.  You wicked and slothful servant!

It’s here we should realize something.  Discipleship is a risky endeavor.  Do not think that because you are a Christian, God is satisfied.  Now, as Christians its time to trust Him and take risks.  Don’t take the gift you’ve been given and hoard it for yourself.  Invest it in others.  Go outside of your comfort zone and do what God desires you to do.  Take risks for Christ and if things flop get up and go again.  Our Master is not a hard taskmaster but will bless you as you engage in whatever calling you have.

4.  The Judgement of the Worthless Servant

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.’ 

God is not a hard taskmaster.  He is extremely generous.  Trust Him as you serve others, disciple others, and care for His people here.  Trust Him take risks and watch what God does.

Here’s the picture of how God rewards His servants…

28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.

The Master has just given the faithful servant the original 5 talents, the 5 talents he made as profit and the 1 talent from the wicked servant.  We see the doctrine of faithfulness being rewarded extravagantly.  This servant began with zero talents of his own.

The Master has just given the other servant the original 2 talents, the 2 talents he made as profit.  

29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.

Look now at the worthless servant.  We see the division between God’s people and those who belong to the wicked one, Satan.  We see the division between the saved and the lost.

Here again as with the other two parables we see language of eternal judgement…

 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

This wicked servant was not ready for the Master’s coming because he did not know the Master.  He said his Master was a hard man.  This servant has proven himself useless for the Kingdom of God. 

Like the Pharisees who were to be caretakers of the vineyard and would not give the Landowner his portion.  Or like the wicked servants who said they would go and work in the vineyard but never did.  Or like the wicked servant who did not care for but beat the other servants.  Or like the foolish virgins who cared not for the Bridegroom and did not bring oil.  So, all these prove themselves to be unworthy of the Kingdom of God but very much fit for eternal wrath.

Conclusion

Are you waiting faithfully for the Lord’s coming?  Are you showing yourself to be a child of God through your love and service for King Jesus while you wait?

Resources Used:

Matthew by Hendriksen

Matthew by RT France

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