Spoiler Alert: This PODCAST will not be paradigm-shifting. This podcast will be paradigm-shattering.
There is so much going on here in Jesus’ conclusion to His landmark End Times Olivet Discourse that I hardly know where to begin.
Last week, we saw that Jesus told a parable about ten bridesmaids, five who were wise and five who were foolish.
This week, we’ll note that He told a follow-up parable about three servants, two who were faithful and one who was unfaithful.
We are fast-winding down our study of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus’ End Times sermon that He gave to His disciples high atop the Mount of Olives.
We are soon to pivot from the Tuesday of Jesus’ final week, to the Thursday of His final week, with detailed discussions of His final Passover Seder with His disciples, Judas’ betrayal, the Upper Room Discourse, Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, His subsequent confinement in Caiaphas’ house, plus Peter’s denial.
The countdown clock to Jesus’ crucifixion is ticking; the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry is fast-approaching.
But to get there, we must first consider Jesus’ words here. Specifically, who are the faithful servants, and who is the unfaithful servant? What distinguishes between the two — faithful versus unfaithful? And what does all of this have to do with our lives in the here and now today?
And, on the heels of what we discussed last week, remember: How we wait and watch is all about how we treat each other. This may not sound like a monumentally important thought, but in the array of Jesus’ values, this is what Jesus valued the most!
So with all of that, let me now walk you through Jesus’ conclusion to His Olivet Discourse. A parable that I truly believe you will discover to be OH so encouraging to you!
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. (Matthew 25:14-15)
Now, let me begin by asserting this truth… you, yes YOU have talent. Whether you want to admit it or not, each of us has talents. But, let me explain something. There is a coincidence of language here. It’s an odd situation where our English and the ancient Greek fall together in an unusual way. In the context of the passage “talent” refers to a measure of money. Therefore, the master had given various amounts of money to each of his servants before leaving on his journey.
But, as you will see, this is not a parable about money. This has nothing to do with a financial investment strategy.
It is actually a parable about faithfulness.
In other words, how faithful are we to use our talents in treating each other?
But, this goes far beyond our money. When we apply this parable to our lives, it is in regards to our gifts, our abilities, and our opportunities. Some might say (in English) that its all about our talents… which is where the linguistic coincidence rears its head.
In matthew 25:20-21, Jesus said:
“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
This is a parable about faithfulness!
In the parable, the master is about ready to leave on a trip. As He told the parable, Jesus was about 48 hours away from being arrested, when He would leave His servants. The parable talks about servants to their master. We are servants to our Master, God. In the parable, the master entrusts his servants with talents. In our lives, God entrusts us with our abilities, gifts and opportunities… our talents. The first two servants faithfully invested their talents on behalf of their master, with substantial returns on their investments. The third unfaithful servant did nothing with his talent except to bury it and sit on it.
The parable is meant to tell us that each of us are gifted, by our Master with certain gifts, abilities and opportunities. We should use these talents for the sake of God, being light to a very dark world.
So, the question is: Are we doing this? Are we investing our talents or sitting on them? Are we shining lights in a dark world, or are we hiding our lights under a basket so that no one can see?
What’s cool is how the remainder of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse explains to us how God wants us to invest our talents. And it has nothing to do with how “talented” each of us are. When it comes to obeying God, there is no competition between any of us.
That’s not what Jesus intended, defined nor commanded of us in our efforts to be a “good Christian”.
So, how is it that we are supposed to invest our “talents”? Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:34–40,
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was homeless, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was shivering, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to someone who is overlooked or ignored, you were doing it to me!’
That’s the key.
As we daily interact with the people within our community, when we see a need we need to meet the need. That’s it.
See a need, meet the need.
That’s all that Jesus wants from us. That’s the hallmark of a genuine committed Christ-follower.
So, when should we get busy doing this? Well, as Paul wrote:
For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. 3 When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3)
In other words, tough times are coming. I would argue that tough times are already here. We are living in a very unloving culture. The people around us are in less need of our “church activities” and more need of genuine care and love.
Isaiah put it this way:
“Why this frenzy of sacrifices?”
…When you come before me,
whoever gave you the idea of acting like this,
Running here and there, doing this and that—
all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?
Quit your worship charades.
I can’t stand your trivial religious games…
…I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I’ll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I’ll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer.Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.” (Isaiah 1:11-17)
This is all about helping those in need. See the need, meet the need.