Ps. 90; Zeph. 1:7-16; 1 Thess. 5:1-11; Matt. 25:14-30.
Talents, “For [the day and hour of the bridegroom (cf. v. 13)] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property… to each according to his ability… He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them… But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master… came and settled accounts with them” (vv. 14, 16, 18, 19).
This second-last Sunday, we come to Jesus’ final parable. The Master’s “talents” are not themselves equated with Christian stewardship; nevertheless, his servants are entrusted with his possessions and judged for its management.
Fascinatingly, the Master’s “talents” correspond to his “property”, specifically his investable “money” (vv. 18, 27). When one considers Jesus’ status in the world; “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt. 8:20), and his blessing to the same poverty (Lk. 6:20), one must consider: with what did the Master entrust his servants to manage?
Last Sunday’s maidens, five Wise, five Foolish, awaited arrival of their delayed bridegroom. The five Wise faithfully anticipated his delay, still continuing to acquire wherewithal supply (God’s oil), to be “light” in the world (Mt. 5:14) waiting the Lord’s final ingathering.
“The day of the Lord” is in view in all these church Last Sunday Readings; today the Master returns to his household for accounting of his “property”, he calls “talents” and “money”. Of course, Jesus is not speaking of world coinage! if not, what kind of “money” are the parable “talents”?
Central to Jesus’ “talents” is our identification with those things in which God places true value, “coin of heaven’s realm”, entrusted to us for employ and spending to nurture in and out of his household.
In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus, in Galilee (4:23), taught those coming to discipleship by his “Sermon on the Mount” (5:1—7:29). Today, he concludes his catechesis, in these “Last Sundays”, outside of Jerusalem, by his “Mount Olivet Sermon” (24:3—26:2) returning to Galilean themes.
In Galilee Jesus identified the goal for his church, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48). This is not a command to current moral perfection, for the law is true, extant, and always condemns sinners.
Rather Jesus expressed God’s expectation and fulfillment in Jesus’ Crucified reign in the new creation; especially our love of Him and our enemies to conversion. In today’s parable “perfection” in end-time is the work of the HS, doubling talents of the Master lodged with faithful servants.
Ultimately, the Talent in whom God locates all value in heaven and on earth is his Son’s obedient work on the cross, trusting in God’s character for Life.
Our “perfection” comes being re-made into the “image” of God and “likeness” of Christ. On the Last Day, the Baptized, are “consecrated guests to the Sacrifice the LORD has prepared” (Zeph.1:7).
The world puts its store of value in base money: gold, silver, currencies, land, commodities, stocks and debt, art, and political influence. But the Baptized are “consecrated” to a radical currency exchange out of base valuations.
The Baptized “trade” affection toward gold and silver for “the Talent” God prizes, the source of heaven’s wealth, Jesus’ crucified flesh for life of the world, delivered in word and Sacrament.
Jesus taught in Galilee, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… but… treasure in heaven… For where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:19a, 20a, 21). When we exchange the treasure of our hearts according to heaven’s valuation, we depart foolishness and faithlessness.
The new Treasure heart-location governs our on-going expenditures and investments, “according to abilities”. Our knowledge of the Master’s integrity distinguishes us as faithful servants from those who bury the Master’s treasure, as we await “the day” of accounting and settlement.
Jesus is bridegroom; and we, “the apple of his eye” (Ps. 17:8a) whom he redeemed out of the world’s soil (Mt. 13:44); so, we enquire, for what did the Master’s servants “trade” with his all-sufficient Currency; — was it not for being his “Pearl of Great Price” (vv. 45, 46)?
Knowing the Master’s character, his faithful servants “Immediately” (25:16, 17a) traded their sin for forgiveness and Jesus’ righteousness; in which exchange heaven’s compounding of grace is discerned. If the world offers negative interest rates for debt; the HS, by heaven’s valuation of its Talent doubles, 100-fold in grace.
In holding to our Talent, we have traded doubt and anxiety, in a world whose only certainties are taxes and death for Life in God’s love and promises.
We trade a veiled understanding of heaven’s Scrolls for their unsealing (Rev. 5:3, 5) in Spirit and Truth (Jn. 4:23). Christ alone is worthy to reveal the will of God and his treasure above all else.
In our “secret place” (Mt. 6:6, 18, NKJV), the NT dwelling in Jesus’ flesh; we pray about tribulation, cashing-in tears for rejoicing in Thanksgiving.
Of “foolish maidens”, Jesus judged, “I do not know you” (25:12); of the “fearful servant” Jesus expelled him for not knowing and maligning his character as having a greedy heart.
Jesus, is magnified and known in our expenditure of what he delivers; his Substance. The faithless servant consigned his Talent into the earth, the destiny of all in Adam’s sin.
But the church’s faithful servants receive heaven’s new Currency exchange, by which Jesus is doubled and redoubled in our presence, perfecting Love’s expenditure for “light” on earth. Faithful to our Treasure we expect, on the day of the Lord, “[W]ell done, good and faithful servant” (Mt. 25:21, 23). Amen.