Sermon title:  JESUS’ PARABLE OF THE TALENTS (BAGS OF MONEY)

Matthew 25:14-30

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, January 5, 2020

 

 

 

We all want our eternal future to be in heaven.

 

And when we arrive there,

we all want to hear Jesus welcome us with the words,

“Well done, good and faithful servant!” 

 

That expression comes from his ‘Parable of the Talents,’

which we read in this morning’s Responsive Reading,

and which we’ll be looking at more closely

over the next few minutes. 

 

By the way, in case you’re having deja vu,

thinking we discussed this parable a couple months ago,

that was the Parable of the Minas in Luke chapter 19.

 

It was a similar story

that Jesus told to teach a similar lesson,

but it was at a different time and place,

a little earlier in his ministry.

Now the traditional name of this parable

in older Bible translations—“The Parable of the Talents”—

can be confusing to us today.

 

When we hear the word “talents,”

we immediately think of musical ability

or some other skill or personal talent.

 

Talent shows have been around for decades,

where individuals who sing or dance

perform in front of an audience.

 

“Community Auditions” first aired on TV in 1950.

 

Later came “American Idol” and “America’s God Talent.”

 

But that’s not how Jesus’ Parable of the Talents

uses the word Talent.

 

The Hebrew word kikkar and the Greek talanta

translated “talent” in many older Bibles

actually represented a unit of weight—

for bags of silver or gold.

 

So, to avoid the confusion

with our different modern use of the word “talent,”

some newer versions of the Bible

translate it as “bags of silver” or “bags of gold”

or “thousands of coins.”

 

We’re discussing Jesus’ Parable of the Talents this morning,

because, for the past couple of years,

we’ve been going through the Gospels,

looking at everything our Lord Jesus said and did

in chronological order.

 

I’m doing that, so that we won’t miss anything

that our Lord wants us to know.

 

There are parts of the Bible

that pastors love to preach on

because they’re happy thoughts

that send everyone home in a good mood.

 

But there are other parts

that pastors often avoid

because they aren’t as positive and popular.

 

Some listeners may be unhappy hearing those parts.

 

But I believe we owe it to our Lord

to teach everything he said.

 

In fact, when Jesus gave the great commission

at Matthew 28:19-20,

he said,

 “go and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father

and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 and teaching them to obey

everything I have commanded you.

 

And, how are we going to obey “everything” Jesus taught,

if we don’t hear everything.

 

We suspended that chronological coverage of the Gospels

for a few weeks,

to allow for sermons on Christmas

and a sermon on the New Year,

but now we can resume where we left off,

in the middle of the 25th Chapter of Matthew.

 

And that’s where we come now to Christ’s Parable of the Talents.

 

It begins at Matthew 25:14, where Jesus says,

 

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey,

who called his servants

and entrusted his wealth to them.

 

It will be like” What is “it”?

 

Jesus said this right after speaking

his Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.

 

And there, at Matthew 25:1,

he began that parable by saying,

 

“At that time the kingdom of heaven

will be like ten virgins

who took their lamps

and went out to meet the bridegroom.”

 

So, when he begins this next parable now, by saying

it will be like a man going on a journey,”

he is still telling us what the kingdom of heaven will be like.

 

Five of those 10 virgins were shut out of

the kingdom of heaven.

 

Christ concluded that parable by saying,

The virgins who were ready

went in with him to the wedding banquet.

--in other words, they got into heaven

but then Jesus says,

 

And the door was shut.

 

11 “Later the others also came.

‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

 

12 “But he replied,

‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

 

13 “Therefore keep watch,

because you do not know the day or the hour.

 

So, the Parable of the 10 Virgins  was about

entrance into heaven for those who prepare in this life,

while those who wait until the last minute

will find the door to heaven shut in their faces.

 

So, now Jesus begins this Parable of the Talents, by saying

it will be like a man going on a journey.”

 

He is still telling us what the kingdom of heaven will be like.

 

He is still talking about those who get in and those who don’t.

So, Jesus gives us this parable.

 

He says,

it will be like a man going on a journey,

who called his servants

and entrusted his wealth to them.

 

15 To one he gave five bags of gold,

to another two bags,

and to another one bag,

each according to his ability.

 

Then he went on his journey.

 

Many translations say,

“To one he gave five talents,

to another two, and to another one.”

 

When weighing silver,

a talent was a weight

equal to around 6,000 denarius coins,

and each denarius was worth

a day's wage for a farm worker.

 

So, one talent was worth around 16 years' pay.

 

The parable continues,

 

16 The man who had received five bags of gold

went at once and put his money to work

and gained five bags more.

 

17 So also, the one with two bags of gold

gained two more.

 

18 But the man who had received one bag

went off, dug a hole in the ground

and hid his master’s money.

 

19 “After a long time

the master of those servants returned

and settled accounts with them.

 

20 The man who had received five bags of gold

brought the other five.

 

‘Master,’ he said,

‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold.

See, I have gained five more.’

 

21 “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!’

 

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came.

‘Master,’ he said,

‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold;

see, I have gained two more.’

 

23“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!’

 

24 “Then the man

who had received one bag of gold 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.

 

25 So I was afraid and went out

and hid your gold in the ground.

 

See, here is what belongs to you.’

 

26 “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?

 

27 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.

 

28 So take the bag of gold from him

and give it to the one who has ten bags.

 

29 For whoever has will be given more,

and they will have an abundance.

 

Whoever does not have,

even what they have will be taken from them.

 

30 And throw that worthless servant outside,

into the darkness,

where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

I mentioned before

that there are parts of the Gospels

that people like to hear about,

and part pastors often avoid

because people find them unpleasant.

 

This is one of those parts

that many people would rather not hear about.

 

Pastors who fill huge auditoriums and stadiums

know that today’s church audiences

don’t want to hear

that Jesus expects something from them.

 

Church audiences don’t like the parts of the Gospels

where Jesus talks about people being thrown outside,

into the darkness,

where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

It’s popular today

to emphasize the free gift of salvation

that Christ freely gives us

through his death on the cross.

 

But it’s not popular

to hear that Christ expects anything from us.

 

Yes, we are saved by grace, not by works.

 

But we are saved to do good works.

 

If we turn to Ephesians, Chapter 2,

we’ll see that the two thoughts

are both expressed in the same passage:

that we are saved by grace, not by our works,

AND that we are saved to do good works.

 

The two are not mutually exclusive.

 

But, it’s due to erroneous theology

that many churches emphasize

being saved by grace,

and leave out mention

of the good works we are expected to do—

just like the servants in that parable

who were expected

to put those bags of goldto good use.

 

Beginning at Ephesians 2:8, Paul writes,

 

8 For it is by grace you have been saved,

through faith

and this is not from yourselves,

it is the gift of God—

9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

 

10 For we are God’s handiwork,

created in Christ Jesus

to do good works,

which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Both as individuals, and as a church,

he expects us to do the business of his Kingdom

with whatever resources he has given us.

 

Happily, this church has plenty of resources at this time.

 

Other churches I’ve been in

have typically had an endowment of money in the bank

about equal to their annual budget—

enough money to keep going for a whole year,

even if they didn’t receive another penny.

 

According to the last couple of Annual Reports,

this church had money in the bank

roughly equal to 3 or 4 years’ expenses.

 

It’s not that we have more than those other churches;

we actually have less.

 

But we have a much smaller budget,

so the amount we do have

is enough to cover 3 or 4 years normal expenditures.

 

So, we have plenty on hand

to do the work the Lord expects us to do.

 

Like the master in the parable,

when the Lord returns,

he’ll be looking for us to do the business of his Kingdom.

 

Unlike the parable that isn’t to accumulate more money,

but to do the work of saving souls

by sharing the Gospel message.

 

In the Parable, Christ uses money as an illustration,

but he didn’t assign us to make money:

he assigned us to make disciples.

 

He’ll be looking for us to fill the church pews,

rather than to fill the bank account.

 

And, when he takes us to heaven,

he’ll have work for us to do there, too.

 

It has often been said that

“the reward for good work is more work.”

 

And this parable seems to imply that to be the case

in the heavenly kingdom, as well.

 

To both servants who did what they were supposed to do

the master in the Parable said,

 

You have been faithful with a few things;

I will put you in charge of many things.

 

We don’t know what those “many things” will be,

but we can trust that the Lord

will assign us pleasant activities,

when he calls each of us home

and says to us,

‘Well done, good and faithful servant!

 

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But, before we celebrate communion,

I’d like to say a few words

about why we’re advertising

our First-Sunday-of-the Month Evening services

as a series on “Cults & World Religions.”

 

Scripture shows it’s a subject that our God and heavenly Father

wants us to talk about.

He began his 10 Commandments to the nation of Israel

by saying, at Exodus 20, Verse 3,

 

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

 

And then he added,

 

5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them;

for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,

 

During the centuries after that,

most of ancient Israel’s troubles

were due to their violating that commandment.

 

Today there are millions of Christians

who attend meditation or exercise classes

where they are taught to repeat

meaningless “mantra” sounds.

 

But the word “mantra” actually means a prayer to a Hindu god.

 

And the supposedly “meaningless sounds”

assigned by instructors

are often actually prayers to Hindu gods

in the Sanskrit language.

 

For example, according to one former practitioner,

the mantra he was given to repeat while meditating

was SHRI AING NAMAH, which translates into English

as "Oh most beautiful   Hindu goddess Saraswati    I bow down."

 

So, one reason why our Evening services

will include sermons and Q&A

on the Cults & World Religions,

is because so many Christians

are being drawn unknowingly into

devotion to foreign gods.

 

Another reason is all the New Testament warnings

against cults infiltrating the churches.

 

Paul, Peter and Jude all talk about it in their letters.

 

And in Revelation chapters 2 & 3,

the risen Christ gave John messages to deliver

to seven Christian churches.

 

And, out of the 7, he told 3

about cultic teachings infiltrating the churches.

 

The risen Christ told the church in Ephesus,

about the cult of “the Nicolaitans.”

 

Jesus told the church in Pergamum about

“the teaching of Balaam.”

 

And he told the church in Thyatira,

about the teachings of “that woman Jezebel.”

 

Many churches today never mention the cults,

and the dangers they pose.

 

But it’s a big part of the New Testament.

 

And when we share the Gospel, and invite people to church,

many of them are already involved with cults

or influenced by them.

 

So, we’ll be talking about them at our Evening services,

beginning tonight.

 

And at each Evening service there will also be a Q&A time

to get your questions answered.