TODAY’S READING: MATTHEW 25-26
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property…And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents’…And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents’…He also who had received one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid.'” – Matthew 25:14, 20, 22, 24-25
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells the familiar parable of the talents. Verse 14 says the parable is about “it.” It refers to the kingdom of heaven. We know this because in Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus tells parable of the ten virgins, saying, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like…” So, the parable of the talents is another example of what the kingdom of heaven is like.
The basic gist of the parable is a man that is going on a long journey who gives his property, talents or money, to his servants to use while he is gone. After a long time, the man comes back to find out what his servants did with the property he gave them.
Who is this man that is going on a long journey?
The night before he died, Jesus said to his disciples, “If it were not so, would I have to you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2) Jesus is the man who goes on a long journey. When, Jesus died he left us to go prepare a place for us. His journey is long. He seems to still be on it, and we don’t know how long it will be.
So, Jesus is the man that went on a long journey who has entrusted his property, his talents, his money to us. I find Jesus’ use of money to be a very interesting analogy in this parable.
At its most basic level, money is a medium of exchange. Money is the means by which things change hands.
So, what is the money, the medium of exchange, the property that Jesus entrusts to his servants?
The Greek word for entrust is paradidomi. We looked at this word earlier in Matthew in my post “Who Delivered Jesus? Who Killed Jesus?” It’s primary use in the New Testament is in regards to the delivering over and betraying of Jesus. But, the basic meaning of the word is taking something and putting it in the hands of another for their own use, which is just what Judas did with Jesus.
Paradidomi is also used in the sense of entrusting a teaching, specifically the gospel, to others. For example, Luke 1:2 says, “Just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered [paradidomi] them to us.”
And, we read in this parable of the talents that property or money can be delivered, or entrusted, to another. That is, someone gives the power and authority to use their property or money. Interestingly, there is one time, and only one time that I can find, where paradidomi is used in connection with something Jesus delivered over or gave.
What did Jesus deliver over or entrust to another? And, when did he do it?
John 19:30 says, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up [paradidomi] his spirit.”
So, when Jesus was crucified, just as he was going away on his long journey, he gave up, delivered over, entrusted, his spirit.
Who did he entrust his spirit to?
In John 14:16-17, Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.”
Here, the word Jesus uses for give is didomi, which is obviously the root of the word paradidomi. Jesus delivered over or entrusted his Spirit to the Father so that the Father could give the Spirit to us forever.
Therefore, we see that the Holy Spirit is the money of the kingdom of heaven. He is the medium of exchange. Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit that brings the things of heaven into reality on the earth. The Holy Spirit truly is the exchange between heaven and earth.
Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy. It is these things in, or by means of, the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual gifts are given for the manifestation of God on the earth. The Holy Spirit is the medium of exchange for this. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11 says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone…All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”
In the parable of the ten talents, we should understand that the property, the money, entrusted to us is the Holy Spirit. Jesus has entrusted us with his Spirit. He has given to us the Spirit to use with power and authority to manifest more of the Spirit, more of the Spirit’s fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the business we are to be conducting while Jesus is on his long journey.
What I find interesting in this parable is the response of three servants to the man, the master, when he comes back.
The two servants who were successful, who took what had been entrusted to them and made more of it, both said, “Master you delivered to me.” The two successful servants used the word delivered or entrusted, paradidomi, of the master. In other words, successful servants of God see him as giving. Successful servants of God know he gives his Spirit to them to manifest heavenly things in the earth. Importantly, the only thing the successful servants say is that the master is giving. Successful servants of God see him as giving. Period.
But, what about the third servant who was called wicked and slothful?
The third servant never says the master was giving. He never uses the word paradidomi. The third servant does not acknowledge he has been entrusted with something. Instead, the third servant says, “I knew you to be hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed.”
The third servant, the unsuccessful servant, sees God as hard. The Greek word for hard here means harsh, hard, difficult, violent, strong, demanding, hard-hearted, dry, stiff, inflexible, and rigid.
In addition to see God as violent, demanding, and hard-hearted, the unsuccessful servant sees God as a taker. God takes what is not his. This is what the unsuccessful servant means when he says God reaps where he hasn’t sown and gathered where he did not scatter seed.
So, the unsuccessful, the wicked and slothful, servant of God sees God as violent, demanding, and harsh. He sees God as who takes what isn’t his. Of course, all of us know that someone who takes what isn’t is his is wrong and immoral.
So, it is the view of God that the three servants had that stood out to me.
Do you view God as giving?
Period. End of story.
Or, do you view God as harsh and hard? A God who is demanding of you? A God who will take from you?
Ultimately, the question becomes do you see God as good and only good or not?
Based on this parable, your view of God is critical for the success of your service to him.