When considering the ‘Parable of the Talents’ it is important, as always, to place it in the context Jesus shared it with his listeners. It comes as part of an answer to a question posed by His disciples at the beginning of Matthew chapter 24 as they sat on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem and the historic temple: ‘What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ And, comes in the middle of three stories that Jesus shared to help his friends understand what was important about the second coming and the age to come.
Time and time again we hear the encouragement of Jesus to live ready, alert and watchful for the kingdom to come. We should be ever expectant that Jesus could arrive as suddenly as a bolt of lightning flashing across the sky. However, as I write this devotional on hearing the news that Shane Warne the famous Australian cricketer has died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 52, I am reminded that we all may meet Jesus at a moment’s notice. Jesus doesn’t focus his followers’ minds on the when but on their responsibility while waiting. Jesus over and over encourages his disciples to live with wisdom and faithfulness.
Another thing to clarify is that although our English word ‘talent’ meaning ability does originate from this parable it is not what Jesus is referring to. A Talent in the ancient world was a monetary weight of approximately 60 to 90 pounds. Depending on the metal in question, the value of a Talent could be equivalent to 6,000 days’ wages for a day labourer. Yes, that’s about 20 years of work. So the man given 5 Talents was given an astronomical amount but, obviously, the one Talent man still received a huge amount. This possibly dispels our thought that the one Talent man was a bit hard done by having ‘only’ one Talent!
Once again, Jesus is demonstrating to his friends who he will soon leave in traumatic circumstances, shaking their belief to the core, that central to the life of his followers is faithfulness. His commendation of ‘well done good and faithful servant’ stands in stark contrast to the description of a ‘wicked and slothful servant’.
We still live in the ‘now and not yet’ of biblical eschatology. We know that God has acted decisively in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Through the completed work of Jesus, the Kingdom of God has broken into our lives. Our citizenship has been transferred from the kingdom of this world to the kingdom of heaven as Paul reminded the believers in Philippi. But we live in a world surrounded by the effects of sin, constantly praying for God’s will to be done and His Kingdom to come, still knowing that until that final day, when Christ comes back for His people, we only see the Kingdom in part.
Jesus is saying over and over again, live every day with the urgency and faithfulness that the hope of eternal life with our Saviour, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords, brings to our lives. This parable is not telling us how to obtain salvation but, is calling us to an unswerving commitment to King Jesus and unfailing faithfulness to His cause.
Today I declare with King David “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” (Ps 36:5) and ‘”Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” (Ps 63:3) Help me to live today and every day in the light of eternity with you, let it shape not only what I do today but also how I do it.
More From This Series
View the other Devotionals in our “For the Joy” series