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OLD Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 25:14–30

James T. Batchelor

Pentecost 23, Proper 28, series A
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Nov 16, 2014 

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Acts 18:26 (ESV)

26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

A dear brother in the Lord read the following and took time to explain things a bit more accurately.  As a result, I have elected to rewrite this sermon.  I leave this copy here so that you may evaluate it and compare it to the rewritten version.

While the following still preaches law and gospel, it may not use the Biblical text as carefully as it could.

Click here for the updated sermon

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The parable in todays Gospel follows the parable of the wise and foolish virgins from last week.  Jesus continues to teach about the Last Day the Day of Judgment the day when each of us must appear before the Lord and give an account.

The parable tells of a man who left on a long trip and returned at a later time.  While he was away, he entrusted his wealth to three servants.  When he returned, he called these servants before him to give an account of what they had done with his wealth.

The man in the parable represents Jesus who was about to leave on that long trip.  In a few days, He would be hanging from a cross and paying for the sins of all humanity.  After He paid for all our sins, He would rise from the dead and then ascend into heaven.  The parable in the Gospel illustrates our lives during this time of waiting for Him to return.  It also illustrates the judgment that will come to each of us at the end of our time on this earth.

It would be very easy to get hung up on the amount the five, two, and one talent that the man gave to each of his servants.  Instead, when we understand that even one talent is a lot of money, we can realize that the man put each of his servants in charge of a fortune even one talent is worth millions of dollars.  The stewardship this man entrusted to his servants was huge.

The first part of this parable illustrates the incredible wealth God gives to us.  Jesus has earned salvation with His suffering and death on the cross.  That salvation is not just for a few, but the salvation Jesus earned is for the sin of the entire world.  This treasure alone is beyond anything we could measure.  Never the less, the Lords grace goes above and beyond even the gift of salvation.  He not only makes us part of His household of salvation, but when He brings us into that house, He also makes us part of His plan to confess that salvation to others.  He pours out gifts of grace on us in order to help us make this confession of the salvation we already have in Jesus Christ.

As the story continued, two of the servants put their stewardship to work.  They invested and made a return.  The third servant dug a hole and buried the entire talent.  He hid his masters money.

Now here is where I have to share a problem that I had with this parable when I became old enough to understand how investment markets work.  My question was, How do I know that I will earn a return when I invest?  The market is a risky place.  What if I invest my talents and lose it all?  What if I invest all the talents God gives to me and end up with nothing? Here we need to remember that although Jesus is using earthly markets as an example, He is really talking about the eternal treasure that God offers to all people forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Investing the treasure of Gods salvation is totally different from investing money.  Gods salvation flows from His love.  The more you give away, the more you have.  So, unlike investing in the stock market or the commodities exchange, there is no risk that you might lose your salvation by sharing it.  As Jesus said to the woman at the well, [John 4:14] Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. You cannot lose your salvation by sharing it with others.  You can give and give and give of your salvation and still have all the salvation you need.  Furthermore, the Holy Spirit will work through you to pour out the treasure of salvation on others.  In this way He will add to the numbers of those who are saved.

The servant who hid his masters wealth did the exact opposite of the other two servants.  Instead of celebrating and sharing the gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation, he despised it.  He hid it away.  He got no good out of it and neither did anyone else.  This poor servant has imagined a master who is not generous, loving, and kind.  His imagination prevented him from seeing the true master who pours out generous salvation without calculation or measurement.  For him, the master was a hard man, reaping where [he] did not sow, and gathering where [he] scattered no seed. This belief caused fear instead of joy.  It paralyzed him so that he buried his masters talent in the ground.  Instead of rejoicing in the gifts his master entrusted to him, he was terrified of them.

Jesus has come revealing to us the generosity of God.  God does not love us with mere gold or silver.  Instead He loves us with the Holy, precious blood of His Son poured out in innocent suffering and death on a cross.  Jesus brought into this world a love that was priceless, a love that would not balk at the cost of sin, a love that would suffer death and eternal damnation so that the debt of all humanity would be paid and every sin would be forgiven before God.  At another time Jesus described this generosity as [Luke 6:38] good measure, pressed down, shaken together, [and] running over.

Sadly, this generosity terrifies many people.  They hide it away from themselves, and so they hide it away from the people in their lives.  They reject the tremendous generosity that God wants to pour out on them.

At the end of the parable, the two faithful servants hear these wonderful words, 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. The master rejoiced in the return His treasure produced while it was in the hands of these faithful servants.

The terrified servant heard different words, 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. Sadly, the wicked servants own words convict him of his unfaithfulness.  Because he did not trust in the loving generosity of his master, the servant is cast out into darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Instead of rejoicing in the generosity of his master and investing that generosity in others, he rejected it, hid it, and despised it.

The other readings for this day proclaim the terror that will come on the day of the Lord.  The Old Testament reading speaks of wailing, punishment, plundering, waste, bitterness, ruin, devastation, darkness and gloom.  The epistle speaks of destruction and the labor pains of childbirth.  These readings make it very clear that there will be a very real day of judgment, and that day will terrify many.

Never the less, there are some who look forward to that day with joy.  These are the ones whom God has brought into His household of salvation.  By Gods grace they celebrate and confess the gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation that God has given to them.  They look forward to the day when God will say, 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. Amen

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