Parable of “The Talents”

Sermon Title: Parable of “The Talents”

Date: 16 November 2014

Preacher: Jacqui Smith

Church Calendar Date: Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost 2014

Lectionary Reading: Matthew 25.14-30


In today’s gospel reading we heard the parable of the talents. I quite like the parables –

those little stories comparing one thing to another, using something familiar to the hearers

to describe something totally different and often with a little twist, a sting in the tale.

Parables aren’t there to lay it all out in a neat row, it’s not A + B = C, they are designed to

make you go ‘huh’, to get a reaction.


So what is your reaction to today’s story? Three servants all given money by their master,

two make more money and the third doesn’t. And according to their actions they receive

either reward or punishment. So let’s tease this parable out a little.


In Matthew’s gospel it sits between the story of the ten bridesmaids and the story of the

final judgement and like these two bookend stories, it’s a story about responsibility; what

you do with the time and resources you have and the consequences of actions or in this

case inaction. It’s also a story about the kingdom of God, Judgement Day and the calling to

account we all ultimately must give. The gospel writer has taken the rewards and

punishments of the financial world as a metaphor for one’s final destiny – heaven or hell.


In today’s parable the master is going away and entrusts talents to three servants. Now a

talent in this story is not as we would know it to be: an ability or a flair for doing a certain

thing – a talent in those days was purely monetary, usually a bar of silver.


And it was equal to an extraordinary amount of money – apparently one talent was worth

more than 15 years of a labourer’s wages! So each of the servant’s gets an vast amount of

the master’s money – 5 talents was probably a lifetime’s wages, and even the slave who

got 1 talent was given 15 years worth of wages. The master generously places an

extraordinary amount of trust in them. And how did the master decide who got what – each

“according to his ability”. They are all given great responsibility to varying degrees.