Text: Matt 25:14-30
Summary: Parable of the Talents. At the outset of our spiritual journey, God gives us various portions of faith freely as a gift. It is up to us to exercise our faith so that it grows.
Before I share from Matthew 25, I wanted to share briefly about healing. As you know, I’m not supernaturally gifted, but I trust God and I take Him at His word. And so when it says in Matthew 10 that Jesus sent out the apostles, and later, He sends out the 72, two by two, it says, Jesus gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to cleanse every disease and then to preach that the kingdom was at hand. Then later on in Matt 17, they are faced with a demonized boy and a father comes to the disciples and asks them to cast out the evil spirit. And the disciples try and they cannot do it.
And Jesus rebukes the disciples — your faith is still so little. And when we do healing we have to remember who the source of the power is. There are gifts that are in operation in the body of Christ, like healing, prophecy, word of knowledge, tongues. These are still in operation today. Even teaching is a spiritual gift, but there’s a way teachers can teach, which relies on their brain and their willpower and their discipline. And someone may be a fantastic teacher and God may have even gifted that person in the beginning with a teaching gift, but it is quite possible to teach with little faith.
Because I can preach by reading through all my commentaries and and doing my homework and writing a manuscript, but is that faith? Am I really going back to the source of the teaching gift and then exercising the gift? The same thing with healing or the supernatural gifts. We have to remember, we may be gifted, but who is the source of that gift?
And Jesus says in Matthew 17 that if you only had a little more faith, this mountain would move. And who is the One who can move mountains? Is it the gifted minister? Is it us who are so powerful because we’ve been anointed and now we can declare mountains to move? Or is it Jesus and we are looking to Jesus and asking Jesus, the one who has gifted us with His authority, and we ask Jesus, I come in Your authority, can You move this mountain for me?
So now we’re going to pray for Jackie’s dad, who injured his back. And so, if you are gifted with healing, or you have a budding gift of healing, or you have faith that Jesus can move mountains, or you just love Jackie’s dad and you want to pray over him, let’s gather and pray over him. Let’s pray for dad and let’s believe that this mountain can move.
(prayer for Jackie’s dad)
Okay, now we are ready to begin our study of Matthew 25, specifically the Parable of the Talents.
Father, you’ve spoken already through Your people. We are encouraged by the various ways that you’ve touched us and impressed things upon us. Thank you for the privilege that we have to pray for dad and for the faith that is rising in this place that you can move mountains.
Father, we ask that you would meet us today as we continue our study of the end times. Give us understanding, specifically about what a talent in the Parable of the Talents is and how we can multiply it. We must multiply it. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
Last week, we covered Matthew 24. One header for Matthew 24 could be “Prepare for Jesus’ Coming.” Then, Matthew 25, the heading could be “He’s Here.”
In Matthew 25, there is no more preparation, He’s knocking on the door, He’s here. Then the chapter gives you a very good snapshot of what Jesus is looking for. What is He looking for when he returns or what is He looking for when we end our lives and we see Him face to face?
The one point for today is faith is a gift but faith also needs to be exercised on our part. Faith is a gift. There’s nothing you can do to earn it. You can receive one portion of faith, two portions of faith, five portions of faith. We all have different experiences and encounters with the Lord. He gives it to us and it is by grace. You had nothing to do with it. It was just given freely and we received it in faith. But what we do with our faith is up to us and we need to exercise our faith.
Did you know faith is like a muscle that you have to exercise? If you do not exercise, what happens? Your muscles atrophy. They go flabby. The same with your faith. If you start out with five portions of faith and you don’t exercise it for 50 years, will you have faith in the end?
Faith has to be exercised. Just briefly, I want to look at the 10 virgins. Five were wise, five were foolish and in verse 11 it says of the foolish virgins:
11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
And so faith is not just intellectual belief. It’s not just a doctrinal check off. Faith is knowing a person. It has to be a relational understanding, a revelation of who this person is. You can say, well I know Jesus and I have all of these doctrinal points that I can prove that I know Jesus, but the only thing that matters in the end is, does Jesus know you.
And He will say a shocking thing to so many people. In this case at least half. I think it’s actually quite higher than this, a shocking number of people in the body of Christ. Jesus is going to say in the end, I don’t know you.
That means that person had faith in the beginning but did not exercise his faith. He grew distant from the Lord and in the end he did not know Jesus and Jesus did not know him. We have to understand that is is all end times. This is all about Jesus arriving. What is He looking for?
Then you look at the final judgment. If you take this part of the sermon and put it in a different part of Scripture, then I might agree that every Christian is obligated to do this. We should all feed the poor. We should all have a prison ministry. We should all visit and care for the believers because this is talking about believers.
But the fact that Jesus gives the sermon in the context of one sermon about the end times and especially His arrival, this tells me this is not a blanket universal ministry that we should all be doing these things at all times. God may call some people to this type of ministry, but does He call all of us? If this was in any other part of Scripture, then maybe we would really have to wrestle with this, and I think we would need to literally drop everything and do this.
But the fact that it’s located here in this one sermon that spans Matthew 24 to 25, it tells us that Jesus is speaking about the end and we read about what the end is like in Matthew 24. There’s a famine. The nations are hating the believer. Preachers are being thrown into prison. And there will be a great temptation during the great famine. You have a limited supply, you’re afraid to profess your faith, and some of your friends are in prison. It’s going to be very difficult to visit people, to share your food, to care for brothers and sisters in the end.
And so if we are in the last generation and Jesus is about to come, we will have no choice but to live this way. We will have no choice just to survive. We’re going to have to share. Just to endure and have our love for Jesus not grow cold because we’re in prison. We’re going to have to have visitors to come and encourage us. This is a literal command at the end.
That’s why for now, I don’t feel personally impressed by the Lord to start up this type of a ministry because Jesus is saying in the end we will all do this. Jesus is saying, If you don’t receive and treat the little ones the way I would treat them, if you don’t care for them, you don’t visit them, and you don’t feed them, then you haven’t done it to me and you are a goat on the left.
What we also see in this last part is that people are genuinely confused. They say, I didn’t see you, Jesus, when I wasn’t doing it. I didn’t see you when I was doing it. I didn’t see you. They both didn’t see Jesus, but Jesus is saying, I was there. In your disobedience, I was there. In your obedience, I was there. That tells me that there are many times that we think, Jesus, where are you? We’re just doing ministry, we’re just doing life and we don’t see Jesus. But Jesus is saying, I am there. Don’t think that you’re just doing it for the sake of doing. Don’t think that Jesus doesn’t notice. Jesus is saying, I am there. Trust me, I am there.
In the parable of the talents, what exactly is the talent? Isn’t this such a confusing parable? To me, it’s one that I’ve had a very difficult time trying to understand. What is the talent? I mean literally, it’s a monetary unit. One talent equals 75 pounds of silver and that’s worth 6,000 denarii. One denarii is equal to one day’s wages. So this is like 16 and a half years of wages – a huge amount.
So is this parable talking about literal money that we need to multiply it and then generously give to the kingdom and if you live that way, you have entry into the kingdom? You can try to take it literally. There are other people who get confused because they don’t know that a talent is a monetary unit. So they think, oh, it’s talking about my talents and my gifts. I need to exercise my gift and live to my potential, then I will have entry into the kingdom.
To me, that would be very scary if that’s what Jesus is saying. Because then Jesus is only looking for workers and the harder you work, you’ll be received at the front of the line. And if you did not work very hard, then you’re not going to even get in. It cannot be money and it cannot be gifts or potential or abilities. It cannot be. What is the one thing that if you have it, you enter the kingdom and if you don’t have it, you do not enter the kingdom? What is that one thing? Faith. This is all about faith. The same way that the 10 virgins were waiting. What did they do in their waiting? The wise virgins exercised their faith and they invested in their relationship with Jesus and they knew Jesus and Jesus knew them.
If you look at Luke Chapter 17, the last half talks about the coming of the kingdom. It is very similar to Matthew, and then it jumps and then it continues. This is Luke’s version of the end times. In Luke 18, Jesus talks about the persistent widow.
18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
So again, you have to read this parable in the context of the end times. What is going to happen in the end times is that you and I are going to be thrown into prison unjustly. We’re going to be slandered unjustly. We’re going to be mistreated unjustly because the nations will hate us. In those days, we will be crying out for justice to a just Judge and will He delay in answering? No, He will answer and He will answer speedily, so do not lose heart in your prayers. The fact that He ends it with verse 8, I think this could be a verse that could be the concluding verse of all of these end time parables:
8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Remember, the days in the end are so difficult that for the sake of the elect God will cut it short. And so this is a very real question. Will He find faith? He’s not sure if He will find faith. Going back to our main text, the parable of the talents, there’s a key phrase here that links it to what we read in Luke, Matthew 24 and various parables in Matthew 25.
5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept.
19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
So during a period of delay, what happened to half of the virgins? They fell asleep and they did not prepare. They did not invest in their relationship with Jesus. They did not exercise their faith.
So when Jesus came looking for faith on earth, there was no faith in these five foolish virgins. The same idea with the parable of the talents. Let’s read Luke’s version.
13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’
If you read the parable of the minas in Luke 19, it is very similar to the parable of the talents in Matthew, but there are a few critical differences. A mina is also a monetary unit. Remember, one talent is 75 pounds of silver. So that’s 6,000 denarii, which is about sixteen and a half years of wages. A mina is worth a hundred denarii, which is a third of a year’s wages. It’s a lot smaller than a talent. And you know He gives the talents, five, two and one. But here, he has 10 servants and gives each of them one mina.
What that tells me is that we all start with different amounts. We start off our faith journey with different amounts of faith that God distributes as He sees according to our ability. To some it’s five talents or some is two talents. For others, it is one talent and others received just one mina each. We are all apportioned as a gift a certain amount of faith. Each of these ten servants start off with one mina, but if you read in verse 16:
16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’
So it went from one mina to ten. Another person said, I had your one mina and made five mina more. So one had grown to ten, one had grown to five. We can take this literally and say, you have a huge amount of faith that was given as a gift such as five portions of faith but He will cap it at 10. No, that’s not true. You may have only one mina, which is just one hundred denarii. This is so small compared to even one talent. So small, you may start with just that, but did you know that you can end up with ten talents of faith?
And what is the key difference? Whether you and I exercised it. God does His part but it takes two to tango. God does His part. If you’re dancing, you cannot dance alone. Unless you’re flossing. Many dances, I don’t know the names of dances, but many dances take two. Maybe the Tango, it requires two, you and your partner. With God, He gives you faith. But then He steps back and sees what will you do with this one mina? This one talent, two talents, five talents, or even one mina.
You know some people who go to the gym, they’re so strong. It’s like a one-mina-size muscle and that person can become an Arnold Schwarzenegger-sized-talent of muscle by working hard and exercising. A lot of our faith is what we exercise and put into it. A lot of our faith comes down to how we exercise it. And so I want to just talk about what it looks like to exercise faith.
Let’s first talk about the one talent person. What did he do with his talent, his portion of faith? He buries it. And why does he bury it? Because he says, my master is harsh. He’s a hard man. This man is severe. That is a wrong picture of the master. The master is not harsh. He doesn’t have a big paddle board. He’s not ready to whack you as soon as you mess up. He’s not angry with you. He’s not disappointed in you.
Our Master is good. Our Master is gracious. Jesus describes himself as humble and gentle inheart. That is who the Master is and if you start off with a certain amount of faith, and you don’t exercise it, you may end up with a wrong picture of the Master. And what will you do with your faith? You will bury it.
24 ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.
The one talent person has his faith and he buries his faith. His view of the master is that his master is hard and he just takes things from me. You look at your life and you invest in certain things. And you’re worried that at one point, God is going to come and just take it all away. He’s going to ask you to surrender it. We don’t know the heart of the Master. If He asks you to surrender something, it’s for your own good. He’s not doing it to punish you. He’s not doing it because He’s mad at you. He’s doing it for your own good. If you just knew the heart of the Master, even surrender is such a freeing thing. To let go of your finances. To let go of your career. To say, well, the Master might take it away, and so you clutch onto it, means you don’t know the Master.
If He asks you to do it, you might not know fully why. But will you just trust Him because you know He’s a good master and you easily and quickly let it go. With the one mina to ten mina’s or five talents to ten talents or two talents to four talents, it’s just praise from the Master.
The fact that our faith has grown — that’s all the Heavenly Father is looking for. He’s just looking for a multiplication of our faith. That’s all that He looks for. He doesn’t look for a resume of service. That doesn’t gain you entry into the kingdom. He’s just looking for your faith in the Lord Jesus being multiplied.
Is your view of Him changing? Like you viewed Him as a harsh Master, but over time, you realize that’s not the right picture. And you dug your talent out of the ground and you started exercising your faith again.
And it says of the first 2 servants, well done, good and faithful servant. Good and faithful. And it says of the 1 talent person who buried it, it says, wicked and slothful. Good and faithful vs wicked and slothful — these are polar opposites. Good vs wicked. Good vs bad. Opposites. And also, “faithful” means full of faith. It’s not being diligent to church duties or activities. That is not a faithful person necessarily. You can be considered a faithful person if you’re full of faith. And this wicked person who’s also slothful. A better, more direct translation for “slothful” is one who shrinks back. Why? Because the master is a hard man.
So, how do we exercise faith? It’s a very practical thing to exercise faith. Some people exercise faith because they have so many testimonies of mountains moving. And I pray that as we walk with Jesus, we will have more testimonies of mountains moving in our midst. For some people, that’s all they have. All they have is the mountains moving, answer prayers, healings, deliverances. That’s all they have.
When we say “faith,” you can also translate it as trust. There’s a trust that is forged during periods when there’s nothing happening. When your life doesn’t make sense.
You contrast Judas and Moses. Such a stark contrast. You could say both were gifted with faith in the beginning. What did you each do with their faith? Judas had a wrong picture of the master. He thought, this was his meal ticket. He thought, I’m the treasurer. I’m going to steal from the money bags because Jesus is powerful. He’s going to keep replenishing the money bags. Then, somewhere along the way, he realized, I can’t get rich being a Christ follower. I’m going to be dirt poor for the rest of my life. And then he decides to abandon ship. He had a wrong view of Jesus that never got fixed. So what did he do with his faith? He buried it.
You contrast that with Moses. Somebody whose life is characterized by miracle upon miracle from birth. Such favor from God. So many miracles occurred during the early part of his life. And then age 40, we read in Acts 7 that a burden came into him. This is a burden from the Lord to be a deliverer for the people as a type and a shadow of Jesus to come. And he tries to reconcile two brothers, Hebrew brothers, who were fighting. And he was now identifying himself more as a Hebrew than as an Egyptian. And these brothers are afraid of him because of Moses had killed an Egyptian the day before.
And because of the rejection of the people, clearly, the people were not ready to be delivered. That’s one reason why Moses fled to Midian. The other reason that I see is that Moses was not ready to be the deliverer. And so what did he do? He flees to the Midian wilderness. And we just turn the page in our Bibles and we miss the fact often times that 40 years goes by.
I don’t know if there were any miracles during those 40 years. There’s nothing that was significant enough to be written down and recorded for us to know. All he did during those 40 years is to raise a family. And he was being prepared for his future assignment. And what did he do during those 40 years?
When He emerges from the 40 years in the wilderness, it is said of Moses that he is the meekest man on the face of the earth. And God exalts him to this assignment. We have to assume he exercised his faith.
And He was gifted with such a privilege of being called a friend of God, fellowshipping with God face to face as a friend to another friend. It was a 40-year trial, a testing. Moses, as a deliverer who grew up in Pharaoh’s court, who saw the injustice of the Jews suffering under Egypt. And a burden comes into Moses and he wants to obey God. It must have been so difficult for him during those 40 years to humble himself, to exercise his faith, to trust the Lord.
Don’t get me wrong. I pray that we will have many testimonies of God moving powerfully in our lives, but I don’t want my faith to go up and down with the waves and the winds of circumstances. I want my faith to multiply to the point that no matter what happens in my life, my faith is not shaken because I spent my life exercising my faith and my faith has grown rock solid. I’m am growing in my confidence in the Lord and that is a decision that you and I have to make. The same way that it’s a decision for you to go to the gym, or to stay at home and atrophy, it’s a decision for you to exercise your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus. And that is a daily decision.
You can look at your finances. And say, I’m running out of money and start stressing and start sweating. And say, I got to look for jobs, and I have to take a second job, a third job and I have to provide and you could take on this burden as a father who needs to provide for his family. Or, you can decide, Lord Jesus, I trust you. That’s a person exercising his or her faith. And then you that Jesus is truthful, God’s word is true. Matthew 6. Our Father really does feed us. And He does give us drink. And He clothes us. If He cares for the birds of the air and feeds them, will He not care for his kids? If He clothes the flowers of the field with lilies, won’t He give us enough clothing to put on so that we’re not naked and ashamed?
And as you exercise your faith in the area of finances, you see the Father coming through time and time again. And you realize, God’s Word is true. And your faith gets boosted.
If you never exercise your faith, and you constantly worry, will your faith grow? No. Because you are burying your faith deeper and deeper into the ground.
It’s actually the prime time to exercise your faith when your life doesn’t make sense. That is the prime time to exercise your faith. When everything is going well and mountains are moving, it’s quite easy to say, I trust God, God is good. When there are mountains in front of you and they are not moving, and you are stressed, and you’re worried, and you look around, and things don’t make sense, you’re in the prime spot to exercise your faith. Because if you weather this storm and you pass this test, your faith will be built up.
And nothing will stumble you. Nothing will tear you down. Nothing can happen in life that will cause you to fall away. That is the kind of faith that Jesus is looking for. When Jesus comes at the end of the age, right after the believers in the final generation go through the great tribulation. We He find faith on earth? Will He find a faith that can survive days that are so hard that the days have to be cut short?
During the wilderness, during the valleys, when things are not happening according to your preferences or your script, that’s the prime time to exercise your faith. And it is God’s guarantee in His Word that there’s no cap on how much your faith can grow. One Mina, or 100 denarii, can become 10 talents of faith, which is a 165 years of wages. That much faith is possible.
If we all start with varying amounts of faith according to our ability, according to whatever He sees in our future, He gives us different portions of faith, yet what we do with it, it’s on us. It takes two to tango. God does His part and He does so much for us. But He also sees whether or not we are multiplying our faith. Are we investing time and effort to get to know Jesus personally? Are we putting our trust in the Lord Jesus?
That means, whenever you’re tempted to be stressed, what do you do with that stress? You bring it to Jesus. That is you exercising faith in that situation. When you are worried, you can hold on to that worry. Or, you can decide, I’m going to exercise my faith and bring this worry to Jesus. If you feel burdened and heavy-laden, Jesus says, come to me, unload your burdens. That’s on us.
God is all-powerful. But the one thing He cannot do is force us to humble ourselves. We have to decide, as followers of Jesus, will we humble ourselves? It’s a verb. And while humbling ourselves, we can exercise our faith. And by exercising it, 1 mina becomes 2 minas. 1 talent becomes 2 talents. 2 talents become 4 talents. 5 talents become 10 talents. There’s no limit. He does not put a cap on your faith. Just because you started with 1 portion of faith, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to end with 2 portions of faith. There’s no limit as to how much our faith in Jesus can grow.
May our faith grow exponentially, especially during seasons when life doesn’t make sense, as we exercise our trust in the Lord Jesus. Let’s pray.
Father, I thank you so much for giving us your word and for reminding us what you, Lord Jesus, are looking for when you come upon the earth. At the end of the age, after the great tribulation when Believers are barely hanging on, what are you looking for? There’s one thing you’re looking for — faith. A personal faith. A faith that is not shaken.
Father, many of us are facing mountains and we don’t know why they don’t move. We don’t understand the full picture. We don’t see the future. We don’t understand why things are so difficult and confusing. Oh Lord, you’ve gifted us at the very beginning when we first began our spiritual journey, you’ve gifted us with a certain amount of faith. And Lord, if we’ve been exercising our faith, you’re encouragement to us is to keep exercising our faith in the Lord Jesus.
If we have buried our faith, Lord, may you allow us to dig it up again, dust it off, take away the dirt. Help us. May today be the beginning, a new day to exercise our faith in the Lord Jesus.
What if we have a wrong picture of you? Where we feel guilty or condemned. Where we take you at your word. There is no sin under which we are condemned except for one. It is unbelief. We pray that you cast out unbelief from our midst. We want to believe, Lord Jesus, that you are good. We believe that you are trustworthy. We believe that you can move mountains.
We trust in your timing, the same way that Moses waited for 40 years. We don’t know how long we will have to wait. Lord, you’re looking for persistence. The widow who is crying out for justice. In the end, you’re looking for persistence.
For the Canaanite woman, you were drawing out her faith as she overcame obstacle after obstacle. We ask that you would draw out our faith as we exercise it in times when life doesn’t make sense. We pray that you’d encourage us because if we catch one glimpse of you, we’d know that you are good. You’re not a hard man. You’re not a harsh man. You’re not a severe man. You’re not an angry man. If we just met you, we’d know that you are good. So we pray that you would meet us so that we can have a proper picture of who you are.
We pray that this one encounter would fuel us for however long until our next encounter with you. Even if it takes 40 years, we pray that we would hold on to our faith because that last encounter was so good and we saw a true picture of your goodness and your humility and your gentleness. We pray that you meet us, Lord. Father, we pray that you draw us to your Son. In Jesus Name, Amen