Matthew 25:24-30

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:24-30

Now we come to the twist in the story. If this was a movie, here the soundtrack would change from the light-hearted joy of the master and the servants celebrating their mutual successes in doubling their talents to something more ominous. Duh duh duh dahhh…..

The first thing we notice is that the description of the master offered by this final slave doesn’t quite fit the actions of the master we have seen thus far. He showed great trust in his servants to take appropriate care of the assets entrusted to them. He rewarded them handsomely for their efforts. But this final slave doesn’t see that in his master at all.

There is a disconnect between the master as he is in the real world and the master that exists in the minds’ eye of this third slave. To him, the master is harsh and greedy. He was afraid so he took the easy way out. He buried his talent for safe-keeping to make sure he could return it intact. At least he was honest about it. But then he loses everything. His fears are confirmed. The master does appear cruel and capricious.

We saw this ending coming from the very start. The other two went to work, the third buried his talent. Right at that point we knew that this wasn’t going to end well for him. He failed in his imagination even before he picked up the shovel to bury his talent. He had already decided there was no pleasing this evil master so he didn’t even try. He took the easy way out. In digging a hole for his talents he failed to see that he was already digging a hole for himself.

How does the ending of the story sound in your ears? Just or unjust? Fair or unfair? How does the story leave you feeling about the master? Is he, or isn’t he, the kind of master you want to work for?

I once worked for a boss who struck fear in the hearts of all of us. He was a gifted, talented, visionary man but he was also moody and quick to get angry. (Many people might have seen the same things in their parents.) If he showed up and we were hard at work, all was well. But if we were loafing, just seeing his car coming down the road made a pit in my stomach. We jumped into action, looking busy. That was the worst part of that job.

We could cynically say, “Well, that sounds about right. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Everybody gets what they deserve. Like it or not, life is a meritocracy and to the victor goes the spoils. You get what you work for and, if you don’t work, you’re gonna get it.”  Is that really the way the world works? Is that really the world we want to live in?

Maybe that is how Jesus intends for us to hear the story – it both encourages and troubles us. We’re drawing ever closer to the end (of this stage) of the Jesus story. At this point his disciples have largely been around for the ride. Maybe this story is intended to wake them up, to shake them up. I know that is what it does to me.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we see all of these slaves in ourselves. Sometimes, and in some places in our lives, we are bold and full of confidence. In others, we are fearful, lazy. We don’t want to be useless and we certainly don’t want to wake up on a trash heap. Come to us in our imaginations that we might see your love for us, toward us. Take away our fear that we might be freed to do what lies ahead of us, what only we can do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


2 Responses to “Matthew 25:24-30”

  1. Lise Munderloh Says:

    What if you change the word “talent” (my interpretation being “something of value”) to the word “love” ?
    Changes the whole perspective of the story…

  2. Gordon and Darlene Nelson Says:

    Thank You Kerry. We hope and pray you are feeling better each day.

    Sent from my iPhone


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