31 Aug

The Parable of the Talents – A Different Angle

I love the Parables of Jesus. Each time I preach or teach these unique stories, I learn something new, and in some cases, a different interpretation altogether. The Parable of the Talents, which I preached this past Sunday, is an example of the latter.

A quick recap: the Parable of the Talents is about a master who left his servants in charge of his wealth. 2 servants invested this wealth and in turn accumulated additional wealth by the time the master returns. One servant, however, simply buried the wealth entrusted to him, which angered the master. This servant was cast out into the streets.

The most popular interpretation of this Parable is this: God bestows upon us blessings (i.e. finances, talents, skills, resources) to be invested in the growth of his kingdom – and it pleases God to invest these talents in Kingdom growth rather than burying them away.

At the same time, a different interpretation has withstood the test of time and treats the Parable as a subversive warning against individual and corporate/societal greed. In this alternate interpretation, the Master plays the “antagonist” – he is largely absent from the day-to-day struggles of the world and simply wishes to accumulate wealth for himself at whatever cost. He is also called “harsh” or “ruthless.” He praises the servants who invested his money in the oppressive, cutthroat economy of the Roman Empire and casts out the servant who refused to take part. Additionally, the servant now finds himself on the outskirts of society, where Jesus often finds himself caring for the least of these among us. Some might argue that Jesus is warning us not to take part in the money-grabbing schemes of the world.

I think both interpretations are worthwhile to consider – that is what makes the Parables so fascinating. At the end of the day, never assume that the Spirit is finished teaching us the truths found in the Parables and in the entirety of the Gospel!