The Parable of eternal reward

September 29, 2016 Randy Bushey


by Randy Bushey, September 29th

For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them (Matthew 25:29).

Part of the interpretive key to understanding parables is to investigate the context: to whom was the Lord Jesus speaking? And what was the incident or topic that triggered the parable?

The contents of chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew’s gospel record Christ’s extended reply to questions posed by His disciples. He had astonished the Twelve with the predicted destruction of Herod’s Temple.

This calamitous event would shock any Jew. They had to know more.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3).

His response included this parable: in preparation for a journey of an undetermined length of time, a very wealthy Master entrusted 8 talents in differing portions to 3 servants. Each was to invest the Master’s resources to maximize the Master’s wealth.

And the Master was already a wealthy man. A talent was a monetary unit represented by 60-80 pounds of silver, worth 20 years of common labour. By current valuation, a talent would have been worth close to $1 million. His servants were given 8 talents.

This parable illustrates 3 principles of a biblical worldview of stewardship – managing resources belonging to Another:

  1. God owns all; whatever I’ve been given (opportunities, abilities, privileges, assets) comes from His hand, given to me freely by His grace – absolutely unearned and undeserved.
  2. His resources are to be invested for productivity in advancing the Kingdom.
  3. the results are seldom immediate, but with diligent management will be realized in a later season.
  4. an accounting of its use will be demanded.

The day of reckoning came upon the Master’s return. After a long time the Master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them (Matthew 25:19).

Through shrewd investing, the first servant had converted 5 talents into 5 more. The second servant likewise, had doubled his entrusted amount to 4 talents.

To each the Master’s response was of great praise: Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness! (Matthew 25:21,23).

The third servant had buried his talent in the ground earning nothing. He then offered a series of slanderous excuses to divert attention from his failure.  His Master labels him “wicked and lazy”.

Why had he not at least deposited the money with bankers to earn some interest? Likely because he questioned whether his Master would ever return. By hiding the talent in a location known only to him, the unscrupulous servant probably expected to recover at a future day. Had he invested with the “benchers”, the deposit-taking merchants of the day, a paper-trail would have evidenced the money was the property of the Master. It was unknown for a mere servant to have honestly accumulated this level of wealth.

Clearly this servant was not an authentic citizen of the Kingdom. The Master’s command: And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30).

And his talent was given to the first servant thereby illustrating a 5th principle of biblical stewardship: wise usage of what has been entrusted to each of us by the Lord, will result in more of His resources being given. And foolishly squandering what He has assigned will result in horrific eternal loss.

For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them (Matthew 25:29).

Takeaway: You and I have been given the unspeakable, inestimably valuable privilege of serving the Master. May our lives be poured out to receive His commendation. The greatest, most valued treasure of any Christ-follower is to hear on a future day: Well done, good and faithful servant!

~graphic by Enzo Forciniti,