Matthew 25:14-30: ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The Gospel reading was the third of a trio of apocalyptic/judgment stories from Matthew 24/25. The Epistle from Thessalonians also had an end times theme. We often get it backwards thinking that Paul built his writings from the available Gospels, when in fact much of Paul’s writing predates the four Gospels we know, being written down.
This helps us make sense of the quandary first addressed last week as to why/how Matthew could puts words in Jesus mouth about the second coming before He had left earth for the first time ie the Matthew passages come just before Jesus turns to Jerusalem. I certainly grew up thinking the Bible was assembled in chronological order, but have since learned that this is far from the case and assuming a chronology can severely inhibit our understanding of what is being communicated.
If we are able to see that the author of Matthew’s Gospel, who was writing for a Jewish audience, is perhaps adding a bit of a political/theological bent to his Gospel to line up with Jewish traditions in making a case for Jesus as Messiah. This segment of Matthew’s Gospel is not found in the other three Gospels.
The point of all this is to remind people to do what these three stories are designed to illicit – a sense of being watchful. Interpretation of Scripture requires that we spend time to ensure that we have a broad range of facts and opinions in putting our thoughts into place.
Having shown the method two weeks in a row, I was comfortable to answer the questions I left hanging the week before – What say you about the end times? My answer is actually rather simply. Studying and discussing all the angles, possibilities and interpretations is of great interest and provides a stimulating conversation. However in the end it does not displace the requirement to have faith and motivated by that faith, to be prepared to meet my God whenever and however that might occur. Given the history I know, that will most likely be when I draw my last breath on this earth. What happens from there is literally in God’s hands. If by chance Jesus should return before my last day, well there is no way I can know the day or hour, so the answer is the same.
THE REV. CANON KEITH NETHERY