The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) – What Jesus is trying to teach us

Today, I would like to analyze the parable of the Talents and explain what Jesus means by it and is trying to teach us.

Jesus tells the parable as follows:

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours. 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? 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. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 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. 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)

What is Jesus telling us in this Parable:

This parable is interesting because at first glance it seems like the master is being hard and unfair on the servant that tried to keep the master’s money safe by burying it…at least that’s the impression I got at first. But when you take a closer look at the context of this parable, we can see what it means.

Context of this parable:

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away”

When we analyze the first part of this scripture, it become obvious what Jesus is referring to. The man going on a journey (or master) represents God. In reality, it is not God that goes on the journey, but his servants. So who are the servants in the parable? That is us as human beings. When God created us, he sent us into this world or in other words departed from us during this journey.

So what are the talents? I find the choice of words here interesting because that is exactly what Jesus is referring to if you put it into “today’s” context. Back when Jesus walked the Earth in human form, a talent was a unit of measurement for Gold and silver. It also became “common tongue” for purses of money usually made up of gold or silver coins. In the parable, the master gives each of his servants a certain amount of money. The parable states that the amount each one is given is dependent upon their abilities.

So lets dissect what this actually means.

We know that the master represents God in the parable and that the servants represent each of us as human beings. The talents (money) that the master gives his servants refers to the common use of the word talent today, or in other words, the abilities and skills that we need in order to do his mission here on Earth.

Like the scripture verses state, each of our talents are different and we are given those talents in different amounts. Before we are born, God has a plan for each of us. We all have a “mission” in Life that he wants us to do. Naturally, God, being the loving creator that he is, gives us all of the skills and “tools” that we will need in order to complete the task. Each task is different and each requires a special set of “tools”. Naturally, some may require more “tools” than others.

“He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.”

In this section of the parable, after the master leaves us (in this world), now it is time to put our talents to use. As discussed in the previous section, God gave us all of the talents and “tools” we need in order to be successful with the plan that he has for us.

Going back to the parable, both the servant that was given 5 talents and the servant that was given 2 talents doubled their money. So what does the doubling of this money refer to? It refers to the “fruits” of their labor.

Everybody has heard the saying “God has a plan for us”. What exactly is his plan though? Well, let’s imagine that we are all part of a machine. That machine has an ultimate purpose which is say to clean something. The machine has many different parts and each part has a different purpose. There is the scrubber, the gears, the motor, the retractor, etc. The machine needs all of these pieces to effectively do the job. Now let’s say that there are many other machines as well which are each made up of different parts each with a different purpose. That is what God’s plan is like for us. God gives us all of the “tools” that we need in order to perform our function which in turn helps others perform their functions. All of this effort works in combination to achieve the ultimate goal.

So what is the goal?

The goal is salvation for each of us.

When Jesus was asked in (Matthew 22) what the most important Commandments are, he basically summed up all of God’s commandments into two: Love God and Love each other.

The mission that God has for all of us usually follows the same pattern. Our mission is usually aimed at helping ourselves by serving God and by helping others so that they can be saved as well.

Therefore, the doubling of the talents that is mentioned in this parable actually refers to using our talents and abilities in order to obtain “fruits” – fruits being the effects of our efforts by working towards God’s plan.

“But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.”

But what about the servant that decided to bury his talent instead of use it? If we jump ahead in the parable, we see that when the master finds this out later, he refers to this servant as lazy and “slothful”.

God gave us talents and skills for a reason. As stated before, these are the “tools” that we need in order to do God’s work here on Earth. Some people however choose not to do God’s work. Instead of using their talents and abilities for the purpose of good, they instead waste those talents by not using them or using them for the wrong purpose.

“Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 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. 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. 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. 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.”

When the master comes back, he reviews what the servants did with the “tools” which he gave to them.

If we translate the meaning of this verse, it would symbolize reuniting with God when we die. God instills us with talents and skills before we are born and expects us to use those skills for good while we are alive. After we die, the time to do our Mission in life is over and we will be reunited with our master.

As expected, the master is proud of the two servants that used their “gifts” to produce “fruit”. In other words, these faithful servants used their talents for good. At the time of their judgement the master, which is God, is pleased at what they have done and decides to give them abundance. That abundance is the Kingdom of Heaven and all that comes with it.

“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, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours. 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? 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. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 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. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

The last section of the parable is a warning to all that choose to be selfish and slothful. If we do not use the talents and “tools” that God gave us in order to do our Mission, then why did he give us those talents in the first place?

The parable describes the master as someone that likes to reap where he has not sown and gather where he has not scattered seed. This is what God is indeed trying to do through us. He wants to save all of his children. He does not want to see any of us go to hell. By doing God’s mission we can help to gather souls to him that otherwise would not have been saved. We do this by following God’s plan and using the individual tools which he gave us for the greater good. For the people that do not do this, they are effectively wasting away what was given to them and condemning themselves to fire. On top of that, they are also condemning others that they may have been able to save if they had tried.

Conclusion:

Upon first glance this parable makes the master seem selfish and cruel, however as noted above, when we dissect the meaning of the parable, we begin to see the truth.

God gives each of us different talents and skills. We all have different missions and God gives us each the “tools” that we need in order to complete that mission. The ultimate goal that God has is that each of us be saved. He empowers us to do that by working towards his mission.

If we follow his word and work his plan, we will produce “fruit”. When we die, God will see that we were productive and will reward us with abundance in the kingdom of Heaven. However, for all of the people that did not use God’s gifts accordingly, they will go to hell for all eternity.

Feel free to comment if you want to add anything, have any questions, or have any concerns.