Jun 3, 2020, 2:55 PM
The Lord Jesus told his disciples a parable which started like this: “A man of noble birth went to a distant land to have himself appointed king and then to return ...” (Luke 19:12) As is characteristic of parables, though a story, they carry a hidden meaning that is not apparent to the naked eye. Actually, Jesus was talking about Himself. The king here is ‘Christ the king’ and He was revealing that He would go back to heaven but that He would return – at a time and date unknown even to Him, but known to the Father.
As He approached Jerusalem on His final lap before facing the cross, His entourage nursed expectations of the setting up of His earthly kingdom. Jesus had to correct this notion by telling them this parable. By so doing, He put to rest any misunderstanding; thus He was confirming what He had said earlier: “I am not of this world.”
No doubt hopes were dashed; Jesus had to return to the seat of power to have His kingship confirmed after which He would return to claim it. “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after Him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ (Luke 19:14) Nevertheless, in spite of their objection he was made king and he returned to his country.
In the parable, prior to taking leave of his servants, the king had summoned three of them and had given each a task to perform whilst he was away. He gave each an amount of money to do business with until his return. To the first servant he gave 5 talents (money), to the second 2 talents and to the third 1 talent. ‘Each according to his ability.’ The king knew their individual capabilities and it was on that basis that he distributed the various amounts of money to them.
So when the king returned, he asked them to render account. They had to show what they had done with the money He had given them. The first servant came and proudly stated: “Master, you entrusted me with five talents. See I have gained five more.” “Well done,” his Master replied, “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.” (Matthew 25:21) The servant to whom he gave two talents came to render account of his stewardship and prided himself of achieving doubling the amount he was given. With the two talents, he had earned two more to make four in total. He also received similar commendation like the first servant.
Any idea what the third fellow did with the capital he received to assist him in starting a business? The account continues: “But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” (Matthew 25:18) Can you imagine! His explanation was: “Master, I knew you were 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.” (Matthew 25:24-25)
Unlike the first two servants, the master did not take this lying down. He reprimanded him. “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.” (Verses 26-27)
In this parable, Jesus is talking about His return. When He, the Master, returns each of us would have to render account of how we have lived our lives; what we have done with the talents each of us was given. The Master has returned to the Father from whence He came. Like the king in the parable He has gone back to heaven but prior to leaving, He asked us to occupy ourselves until His return. Our talents represent the gifts, the abilities God has blessed us with.
In another parable, He says he will come as a thief, in the middle of the night – unbeknown to anyone. He will come when He is least expected. Since we do not know when, we must be watchful, and be on the alert. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to You, I say to everyone: WATCH!” (Mark 13:35-37)
Jesus makes no room for laziness, rather He encourages diligence. It is a privilege when the master calls us and gives us an assignment. So we must honour Him by producing tangible results. In fact, the master ordered that the one talent that the third servant did not use be given to the first servant, to encourage him in recognition of his hard work.
God will demand results of how we have lived our lives; we must remember that we are not tourists in God’s kingdom. We are called to push the kingdom’s business forward. Servants in the kingdom will be judged by their works if they are to receive the divine commendation. Unfruitfulness or slothfulness is not an option.
The Master is coming back. His subjects who sent a delegation to say they did not want him as king will be disappointed, because Jesus is coming to reign in His kingdom. At Jesus’ second coming, we will all be required to give an account of our stewardship.
Will the Master find us ready? Time is of the essence.