A parable is a story with a spiritual truth. But in order to capture the truth Jesus is trying to share, one must first understand who’s who in the story. So first let me share the story, then I’ll tell you who’s who to help you better comprehend the point Jesus is trying to make. We begin with the story:
Jesus said in Matthew 25:14-30, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ 26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Ok. That’s the story. Now let’s look at who’s who.
- The man going on the journey represents Jesus. After coming to earth to die for our sins, Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father. He’s been away for a long time but will one day return. He will first return to rapture his church. Then seven years later He will return to the earth to rule and reign for a thousand years. As the man in the story went away and then returned, so Jesus has gone away and will one day return.
- The servants represent humanity. The two servants who did the master’s bidding were Christians. The one servant who buried his treasure wasn’t a Christian. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
- The talents represent whatever God has put in your hand. Before the man went away on his journey he distributed some of his wealth to each of his servants. It’s implied in the story that he expected the servants to invest what they were given and get a return. In the same way, to varying degrees God has given each of us opportunities, influence, wealth and spiritual gifts. These are the things God has placed in our hands. God expects us to leverage them in a way that bring Him glory and is good for his kingdom.
- The settling of accounts represents judgment day. One day the man who went on the journey returned to settle accounts with his servants. In the same way, one day Jesus will return and settle accounts with us. Romans 14:12 says that one day “…each of us shall give account of himself to God.” That is, Jesus will hold us accountable for how we used what we were given.
Now that you’ve read the story and know who’s who, you’re ready to see the point Jesus is trying to make, which is this: Until He returns we’re to invest our time, talent and treasure in a way that results in the glory of God and the good of His kingdom. We will one day give an account for how we did.