Monday, November 17, 2014

The Master Returns

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants [3] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, [4] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. [5] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
(Matthew 25:14-30 (ESV)

“For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
So Jesus ends the parable of the talents with which he describes the kingdom of God as a merchant who trusts his servants with his capital to invest as they see fit while he  is gone, and when he returns he wants to see what they have done with it, to rejoice with them in their good fortune. “Well done good and faithful servant,” He says, “enter into the joy of your master.” This is his response to the two who invested what they had, and had managed to double their money. They put it all in circulation. It paid dividends. They enjoyed their life, and now their Lord gives them more. One of them didn’t do this. He buried his talent. Lived the whole time in fear of the accounting, and when it came even what he has is taken from him. He would have been better off if he had lost it all in a bad investment.
Of course, it is a parable. The talents here, a monetary unit in antiquity equating into the double digits in our economy, is merely metaphor for the abundance that our Lord has given us in this life. It can be quite a staggering thing to contemplate. The old count your blessing’s routine. You have your family, your job, house and home. You have your eyes and ears and all your senses. You have your hobbies, your aptitudes, your abilities, your talents. First God gives you this life and then he gives you everything you need, everything you have. It’s all gift. None of it really belongs to you. It all belongs to him who has given you your life in the first place, it belongs to him to whom your life belongs, Jesus Christ, who lived and died for your sake.
This is the man, the merchant, the master in the parable who trusts his servants with everything he has and leaves to go abroad for a while, even delays in coming back because he trusts and loves his servants, he trusts and loves you. This is the Man, Jesus Christ. This is the master who gives so generously to his slaves. This is the man, Jesus Christ, you know, the one whose sole purpose in coming at all was to die for you, to shed his blood for your salvation. Jesus the one who came to save the world, who doesn’t want or care to condemn the world. He gave his life for you! This is how much he loves you. So he says do what you want with the money, but do something with it! You don’t bury it. This is the thing, this last servant just insults Jesus. Refuses to enjoy his life. Lives in constant fear of God, despite all that God has done for him. Buries his treasure and refuses to use it. He’s afraid of owing his master anymore than he already does, and the others are certain that God could care less if they lost it all as long as they tried to do something with it. They are certain that there master will take care of them. The servants know their master and they trust him. So they invest his money for Him, and he gets returns, and the benevolent master shows even more benevolence.  
It is Jesus who is coming back. He’s been gone awhile, but he remains true to his word that he comes soon. He didn’t come to condemn us the first time he came, neither does he want to condemn when he returns, He came to save, and he desires that all men would be saved and come to the knowledge of truth, and it is to that end that he leaves you here. That through you, his word would spread, be told and retold, shared with those you love, friends and family, coworkers and employees. To this end he has given you all that you have, and asks you to be part of the production, you, his trusted servants. And this is what you do today as you take part in the voters meeting and approve the budget, as you teach Sunday school, sing in the choir, yes, even here in the church where you invest your money to make the budget you vote on, even here you join in the enterprise, even as you leave here in the forgiveness of sins and go to work, go home and to school and carry with you the name of Christ given in baptism that others would know of this master who comes again to welcome you into the joy of his kingdom who are here today, who make use of all that God has given you, that God himself would bless your work and double your returns, faith for faith strengthened, love for love fortified, hope for hope fulfilled in the return of Jesus Christ, enter into the joy of your master.

Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

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