The Parable of the 5-2-1 Talents
By Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
November 16, 2014 (23rd Sunday after Pentecost)
If you are going abroad, and you don’t know when are you coming back, will you entrust big amount of money to your subordinates? That’s what the master did in our passage today.
The master was going abroad so he called his servants and entrusted them his talents based on their abilities (Mt.25:14).
What was this talent? The talent (Latin: talentum, from Ancient Greek: τάλαντον, talanton “scale, balance, sum”) was one of several ancient units of mass, a commercial weight, as well as corresponding units of value equivalent to these masses of a precious metal (Wikipedia.com).
Thayer’s Greek says that a talent of silver in Israel weighed about 100 pounds (45 kg) or a talent of gold in Israel weighed about 200 pounds (91 kg).
Goldpriceoz.com’s price of gold as of Nov. 15, 2014 is $38,211.16/kilo. So let us compute: (1) $38,211.16/kilo x 91 kg = $3,477,215.56 x 5 talents= $17,386,077.80; (2) $38211.16/kl x 91 kg=$3,477,215.56 x 2 talents= $6,954,431.12; (3) $ 38211.16/kl x 91 kg=$3,477,215.56 x 1 talent=$3,477,215.56.
Matthew 25:15 says that the master gave unto one five (5) talents, to another two (2) , to another one (1) ; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey.
We can see in this verse that the master knew his servants. He knew their abilities. Based on their abilities he entrusted his money to them. As we computed the talents they were not small money. One talent could support even 7 families for life.
II. The Two Servants Use Wisely the Entrusted Talents
The two servants used wisely the money of their master and they doubled the value of the talents (Mt.25:16-17). The parable does not tell how they double their money, but we can get a hint in verse 27. The verse mentions about “bankers.” Banker, τραπεζίτης (trapezitēs), broker, or money changer, one who exchanges money for a fee, and pays interest on deposits (Thayer’s Greek Definition). Thus, we might conclude that the servants were engaged in money changing.
III. The Last Servant Hides the Entrusted Talent
Mat 25:18-19 says, “But the one who received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and buried his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.”
You might wonder why this servant did not do his job, the master knew that he could do the job, but why he buried his master’s money?
Matthew 25:24-27 says, “Then the one who had received one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you haven’t planted and gathering where you haven’t scattered any seed. Being afraid, I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here, take what is yours!’ His master answered him, ‘You evil and lazy servant! So you knew that I harvested where I haven’t planted and gathered where I haven’t scattered any seed? Then you should have invested my money with the bankers. When I returned, I would have received my money back with interest.’”
We might say, the servant used a common excuse against his master. Popular Commentary says that it is “a common excuse: the master is hard and selfish. In the parable, and in reality, the excuse is inconsistent and self-convicting.”
IV. The Accounting of the Entrusted Talents
After many years the master of those servants returned, and settled accounts with them.
The first servant who had 5 talents reported that the capital was intact with 100 percent income (v.20).
His master told him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy servant! Since you have been trustworthy with a small amount, I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s joy!’ (Mt. 25:21).
The second servant who had 2 talents reported that the capital was intact with 100 percent income (22).
The master was happy and he said, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant! Since you have been trustworthy with a small amount, I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s joy!” (v.23).
The third servant returned the one talent, and argued, “Master, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you haven’t planted and gathering where you haven’t scattered any seed. Being afraid, I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here, take what is yours!’ (vv.24-25).
Of course, the master was mad at that time. So he said, “You evil and lazy servant! So you knew that I harvested where I haven’t planted and gathered where I haven’t scattered any seed? Then you should have invested my money with the bankers. When I returned, I would have received my money back with interest.’ Then the master said, ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the ten talents, because to everyone who has something, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the person who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away from him. Throw this useless servant into the darkness outside! In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth'” (vv. 26-30).
This parable is an introduction of Jesus’ teaching on the future judgment. Matthew 25: 31-32 says, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled in front of him, and he will cull them out, one from another, like a shepherd separates sheep from goats.”
If we will combine the lessons in today’s passage (Mt. 25:14-30) with the succeeding passages (vv.31-32), we might deduce that the Lord is challenging us to use our talents or gifts. When we received Jesus as Lord and Savior and when he baptized us with his spirit, we received his gifts of the spirits (I Cor. 12).
I Corinthians 12:4-7 says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of ministries, but the same Lord. There are varieties of results, but it is the same God who produces all the results in everyone. To each person has been given the ability to manifest the Spirit for the common good.”
All of us has granted gifts and the Lord expects us to be fruitful in using our gifts. When we use them in the church services, spiritual gifts will give us interdependence or let say symbiotic relationship.
When he received his honor, he insisted that half the credit should go to his friend, Kaspryzak. They had met one another in school when the armless Mr. Kaspryzak had guided the blind Mr. Overton down a flight of stairs.
This acquaintance ripened into friendship and a beautiful example of interdependence. The blind man carried the books which the armless man read aloud in their common study, and thus the individual deficiency of each was compensated for by the other. After their graduation, they practiced law together (sermonillustrations.com).
We have our own weaknesses, but if we church people will exercise the God-given talents, we might develop a symbiosis inside the church. In that case, we will not criticize the weaknesses of our brethren but instead we will try to use our talents to help others. Then we might become fruitful, and the Lord will be happy with us, and someday the Lord will say, “Come and share your master’s joy!”