2 Ch 7-9; Matt 25; Psalm 91
The ‘parable of the talents’ needs reconsidering. After all those who seek to undo any sense that Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, have made of it a story against the master – it is turned into a broad and vague socio economic story.
But to do this as so many do in one way or another, is merely to ‘seek the historical Jesus and see the reflection of our own face staring back up at us.’ If nothing else, let us allow that there is a natural justice in the treatment of the third slave, who knows not whose servant he is.
Then again its meaning is lost because of the transfer of the word ‘talent’ from its original usage as a sum of money – to that of ‘natural abilities’ Many a school assembly and Sunday School address has focussed on making the best use of our talents . . .
But that too is surely to miss the point. It is hard to read the Scriptures and see therein a ringing endorsement for such an outlook on life. The Apostle Paul for example lays down all his ‘natural’ gifting in the proclamation of the gospel, and throughout the disciples are never shown as in any sense ‘talented’ individuals.
Of course these two approaches both make it primarily a story about us – Our reading of the parable – Our talents. Whereas the focus of Scripture and the Christian life is not us, but the Glory of God.
So we must ask, what is it that Jesus entrusts to his followers? In a word, Himself. His Life. The glorious gospel of eternal life. Surely the three slaves reveal those who do and do not ‘walk in the light as he is in the light’ – their lives bear much fruit, or none at all.
The third slave is the one who because of his hostility to his master refuses to walk in the light. As of old so many of the children of Israel had similarly refused the light of the World, as did the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
The slave in refusing the light, will in the end walk in darkness.
This parable also is found to be authentic, because it places our active obedience first, which we find to be so often the principle. ‘Forgive us, as we forgive’. ‘Give and it will be given to you’. ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy’.