November 13, 2011
TEXT: Zephaniah 1:7-16/1 Thessalonians 5:1-11/Matthew 25:14-30
THE HAVES AND THE HAVE-NOTS
Vicar Alex Post

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Jesus Christ talked about money a lot. A large number of Jesus’ parables, which teach us about the Kingdom of Heaven using earthly metaphors, are about money. But don’t focus on a tree in this parable and miss the forest. If you read too much into the details, you will miss the point.

It is easy to find a slogan in the parable of the talents and then, since it’s from God’s Word, make an entire society based on this slogan. When the master gives out money to each servant, he gives “to each according to his ability.” However, Jesus is not advocating a utopian society in which each one gives according to his ability and each one receives according to his need. Jesus is not advocating public ownership of the means of production. Rather, this parable is about the heavenly consequences of what we do here on earth.

November 13, 2011
TEXT: Zephaniah 1:7-16/1 Thessalonians 5:1-11/Matthew 25:14-30
THE HAVES AND THE HAVE-NOTS
Vicar Alex Post 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Jesus Christ talked about money a lot. A large number of Jesus’ parables, which teach us about the Kingdom of Heaven using earthly metaphors, are about money. But don’t focus on a tree in this parable and miss the forest. If you read too much into the details, you will miss the point.

It is easy to find a slogan in the parable of the talents and then, since it’s from God’s Word, make an entire society based on this slogan. When the master gives out money to each servant, he gives “to each according to his ability.” However, Jesus is not advocating a utopian society in which each one gives according to his ability and each one receives according to his need. Jesus is not advocating public ownership of the means of production. Rather, this parable is about the heavenly consequences of what we do here on earth.

At the same time, do not focus on a tree and ignore the forest by interpreting this parable as an exhortation only for sound earthly investments. This parable is not an exhortation for private property ownership, or for free-market competition, or choosing the best stocks with which to increase your fortune. The talents belong to the master, and whatever the servants do with the talents they’re entrusted with has eternal consequences.

A talent is a lot of money! A talent was worth at least 5-6,000 denarii, and each denarius was the coin for one day’s wages! One talent alone would have been over 20 years worth of salary, let alone 2 talents or 5! Imagine getting that kind of advance on your salary. The Master has truly entrusted His servants with a huge amount.

Since this parable is not about who owns the means of production, or about wise financial investments with good returns, we see from the context that Jesus Christ is teaching about the final reckoning at the end of the world. Jesus Himself is about to meet His imminent end on the cross, and his final parables to His disciples in the Gospel of Matthew have to do with His return – His Second Coming – and the separation of those who do not believe from those who do believe.

You see, unlike our society, which increasingly views people as those who have much and those who have less, it is all or nothing in the Kingdom of Heaven. You either have everything or you have nothing. Jesus said: “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.”

If you rely on what you’ve done for your salvation – if you claim that the talents God has loaned you are yours – you will end up in the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, just like the wedding guest without a garment (Mt. 22:13), just like the wicked servant (24:51), and just like the wicked and lazy servant who buried his talent in the ground (25:30). If you think your household, your bank account, your family, your car and clothes and personality and toys and electronics and goods belong to you, you will see them plundered and laid waste and swept away right before your eyes on the Last Day (Zephaniah 1:1, 13).

For all those who pretend to own their bodies and their possessions, God has prepared a sacrifice (Zeph. 1:7). For all those who love their talents more than the God who gives the talents, God sent His only Son to suffer for their unbelief. Jesus Christ is the Master who went on a journey and then returned after a long time! God the Father sent His greatest treasure, His only Son, Jesus, to purchase this world of lazy and wicked servants by His death on the cross!

The payment was so great, and the investment so total, that Jesus Himself was hidden in the ground – crucified, dead, and buried. Yet on the third day, God the Father raised Him from the dead, and declared, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Mt. 25:21) “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mk. 1:11)

Just as Jesus did the will of His Father and received all good things from Him (Jn. 3:35, 6:38), God has given you a marvelous storehouse of treasures – they are on loan from Him – use them for His glory! The servant even said: “Master, you delivered to me five talents…” Do not be like the rich fool, who said to said to himself, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink and be merry.” (Lk. 12: 15-21) Do not let the gifts separate you from the Giver. Jesus said: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Mt. 16:26)

You do not know the day or hour that Christ will return (Mt. 24:36, 44, 50, 25:13). He expects you to faithfully work, trade, teach, learn, and invest in His Kingdom with the treasure He has given to you. Do not be caught unaware, for He will return like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2) in order to settle accounts with His servants (Mt. 25:19).

We have been given much. So how are we accountable for that which has been given to us? We are to use everything God has given us for His glory and for the confession of His Gospel. What about profit? How did the servant with 5 talents and the servant with 2 talents manage to trade and invest with the result of 100% profit? Well, keep in mind that the Master went away and returned after a long time (Mt. 25:19). Time is a gift from God. Money is a gift from God. All that we have is a gift from our loving Father in heaven, who wants us to use everything we have to bring others to Him.

In the Kingdom of Heaven, there is no comparison between those who have 5 talents and those who have 2. Notice that the servant who was given 5 talents and earned 5 more got the same response as the servant who was given 2 and earned 2 more. His Master said the exact same thing to both of these servants: “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.” Each of us has different gifts – but they are all to be used for God’s glory and for the purpose of confessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not have it.

There are simply those who have, and those who have not. Those who have, that is, those who have been freely given the gift of faith by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, are already in the Kingdom. Those who have not, that is, have rejected the gift of faith and refused to use their talents for the Kingdom, are outside, in the darkness, crying and grinding their teeth in pain.

We are accountable for how we use the gifts God has given us. In the words of Jesus: “The Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” (Mt. 16:27) This does not mean that our salvation depends on what we do! It does mean that when God sees the works of the person who has been declared righteous for the sake of Christ and His work, He judges that person as a good and faithful servant! It also means that when God sees the works of the person who has ignored and despised the righteousness that Jesus Christ gives, He judges that person according to that person’s own works in this life, which can never be good enough.

The epistle of St. James gives us this advice: “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (4:13-15)

In other words, if God wills that you go to school and finish homework and take tests and read books, do it with joy. If God wills that you change diapers and teach your children the Word of God and the Catechism, count it as a huge and priceless gift from God. If God wills that you go to work with computers or machines or making calls or figuring numbers or selling products, remember that God sees your works as holy on account of your loving Savior, Jesus.

We know one thing for sure: God wills that you come to His house each week and receive His Words and His true Body and Blood and His Baptismal washing for the forgiveness of your sins. God wants to entrust you with great treasures, both physical and spiritual, both here on earth and in even greater measure when you reach heaven (Mt. 25: 23). It will be so wonderful for you and so happy and so perfect, and no one will be able to take it away from you.

Every one of you that has been clothed with Christ and fed with His Word and Supper will enter into the joy of your master. You will not be counted among those who have not on the Last Day, but among those who have, when your master returns to settle accounts. And very soon, you will hear these wonderful words in your ear, echoing for eternity: “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.”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a