Stephentown Federated Church




Pastor's Sermons

SERMON FOR NOVEMBER 13, 2011 – The Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30

This week Jesus continues his last discourse to the apostles. Remember, he is very close to being arrested; his statements are bold and foreboding.

In this parable, Jesus says that the kingdom is like a slaveowner who gives out some talents to three of his slaves. (These talents represent a GREAT deal of money in today's dollars.)

The first two take the money and increase it. The third, out of fear of losing the money and having to answer to the master, hides it away to keep it safe. The slaveowner praises the first two and punishes the third.

We have all heard the conventional interpretation of this story: That the slaveowner represents God and that we are to use our talents and take risks for the kingdom. However, I cannot help but find huge stumbling blocks in the story.

First of all, these slaves have no rights. How are they to make more money? They can't buy land; there is no stock market. They would have to gamble, risking their lives if they lost the money, or somehow manipulate their fellow slaves in order to increase the money. Second, they are slaves; they would not receive any of the profit. They are just being used by the slaveowner to increase his own wealth.

Besides, Jesus never preached in favor of building up wealth on earth. He preached the exact opposite!

We love to find the metaphors in the Parables. We love to assign meanings to the characters and events. However: what if Jesus was just talking about what he was talking about?

I can't help but ask: What if Jesus is talking about the society in which he lived? What if the slaveowner did NOT represent God at all, but the rich and powerful of his time? Maybe sometimes a slaveowner is just a slaveowner!

Maybe the first two slaves were typical people of any age who are afraid to say no to the rich and powerful. Who will do whatever they are told in order to keep favor with the powers that be, whether that be a corporate boss, a bishop or a campaign contributer. Maybe the third slave is the rare person who refuses to use his fellow citizens for any reason. Who has the courage to speak the truth to power. Who refuses to use or be used in the name of greed.

Maybe this third slave represents Jesus himself, who refused to play the political game, and therefore paid with his life.

Jesus was willing to bury his treasure of a life in the darkness - the tomb. And in the end, wasn't that the ultimate risk?

Jesus never preached about increasing wealth. He praised the poor in spirit. He never encouraged us to use one another. He told us to be meek and hunger for justice. He never told us to cower before those who would enslave us; He said we are blessed if we are persecuted for being like him.

Maybe the slaveowner is just a slaveowner: whoever or whatever would enslave us to the values of a greedy, materialistic society. Maybe Jesus is the 3rd slave, and we should be likewise. Perhaps the biggest risk is saying, "NO!"

Maybe. Maybe not.

What if ??????