The parable of the Talents comes right after our previous parable of the ten virgins. The context of the parable remains the same. Jesus has just described the fall of Jerusalem and of his second coming. These two parables follow directly after this teaching and there is much to learn from them. The parable of the talents can be confusing as it has many parts. We’re going to break down this parable and gain it’s wisdom and understanding. Let’s dig in.
This parable can be found in Matthew 25:14-30. A similar parable can be found in Luke 19:11-27 but some details are different. After you have read the parable in its entirety, we will then discuss its components and significance.
Now that you have read the parable, let’s do a preview. Jesus has just taught about his second coming specifically, and he has given a parable about ten virgins and this parable about bags of gold. Jesus is describing the time when he will return and he uses these parables to explain what the kingdom of heaven will be like at that time (v.1).
For this parable, we have some characters to sort out. We have the man who is wealthy and he goes on a journey and entrusts his wealth to his servants. He has three servants that he trusts his wealth with. To the first he gives 5 bags of gold, to the second he gives 2, and the third he gives 1. The servants who received the 5 and 2 bags doubled their bags while the master was gone and made a profit. The other servant, however, did not make a profit but instead put it in the ground and then dug it back up when the master returned. The master commended the servants who doubled the wealth. But to the one who did nothing, the master took his bag, gave it to the first servant, and threw the servant into utter darkness and despair. What a crazy parable, but it has its significance.
First, we should decide the original meaning of the parable based on the context. Remember, at this time, Jesus is in Jerusalem in his final days before his execution. Jesus has been announcing woes and judgments on Israel and its leaders from the time he entered the city and this is all part of the plan. This is another wake-up call to the leaders in Israel who have not heeded the words of the prophets long ago and Jesus’ words presently. The leaders of Israel are like the servant who took the money and put it in a hole. While in the hole it produced nothing and the servant did nothing with it. The same can be applied to the way the leaders treated the words of Jesus and the kingdom of God The leaders of Israel gained nothing from the gospel and instead of using it to further the kingdom, they buried it and did not believe. The leaders of Israel have had their chance to lead the people towards God, but they have done just the opposite. This parable is another warning. If they don’t accept the gospel, Jerusalem will be destroyed and them along with it as Jesus just taught about. The gospel is to be used, spread, and gained. It is not to be squandered and used for nothing.
As far as this parables significance for us today, we can start to see some main points being brought out. Obviously, we should strive to be like the first two servants who were ready when their master came back and used what was given to them for good. The master went away and came back. This is simply Christ’s return. Before he left, he gave them his wealth, which I think can just as easily be applied to the giving of the Spirit we see later. We should use the gifts we have been given to further God’s kingdom, which is what this parable is all about. We are called to be fruitful and use our gifts. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”. Romans 12:6 tells us that we have different gifts according to the grace that was given to us. Likewise, in the parable, the master gave the talents to his servants “each according to his ability”. They received different bags of gold as we received our gifts. We have two choices when we receive our gifts. We can either use them or not use them. And like the servant in the parable, if we don’t use them, we will lose them.
The significance of the parable is to use the gifts given to us so that when Christ comes, we will be rewarded. The kingdom of heaven when Christ returns will be a time of justice, grace, and honor. The choice is in front us now. Will we be like the first two servants, or will we decide to be like third servant whose fate is darkness? We must make the decision today before the master returns.