Join us today for an episode about the reason the Parable of the Talents may have different interpretations...
Today's episode is focused on a third interpretation of Matthew 25: 14-28...
In today’s spiritual foundation episode about investing in others, I talk with you about Matthew 25: 14-28, a few ways to interpret this passage, and why digging deeper into scripture often reveals layers.
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00:00:00 Thanks for joining me on episode 722 of the inspired stewardship podcast. I'm Annie Purdue Olson from leading better together. I encourage you to find the courage to lead in ministry. Well, and one way to be inspired to do that is by listening to this, the inspired stewardship podcast with my friend, Scott Mader, Then the third servant acted out against this and said,
00:00:31 I refuse to participate in this oppressive system. I refuse to take advantage of others, and that's why he buried the money. And in this case, it's actually the third slave that we are being called to sort of follow it. It's the third slave that we are actually being asked to emulate. Welcome, and thank you for joining us on the inspired stewardship podcast.
00:00:59 If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent and your treasures for your true calling in the inspired stewardship podcast will learn to invest in yourself, invest in others and develop your influence so that you can impact the world
00:01:28 I talk with you about Matthew chapter 25, verses 14 through 28, the parable of the talents. I talk about a few different ways that you can interpret this passage. And I share why digging deeper into scripture often reveals layers upon layers that you can discover over time. Today, I'm going to go back to one of my favorite passages. The what's known as the parable of the talents in the Matthew version of the gospel or the parable of the pounds and the Luke version.
00:02:02 And these are related parables, but not exactly the same story. And I was having a conversation with my pastor and she shared with me a paper that she had done a number of years ago, where she talked about three different ways of interpreting this passage. So real quickly, Matthew chapter 25 verses 14 through 28. And you probably will remember this as you begin to hear it.
00:02:25 And it begins for it is as if a man going on a journey summit, 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.
00:02:45 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 had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents saying master you handed over to me,
00:03:04 five talents. See, I have made five more talents. As master said to him, well done, good and trustworthy slave. You have been trustworthy in a few things and I will and 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 talent C and I have made two talents.
00:03:25 More. His master said to him, well done, good, good, and trustworthy slave. You have been trustworthy. And a few things I will put you in charge of many things enter into the joy of your master. And 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.
00:03:47 So I was afraid and I went and hid your talent in the ground. And here you have, what is yours? But his master replied you wicked and lazy slave. You knew did you, that I reaped 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,
00:04:05 I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from, and give it to the one with the 10 talents. And then there's a number of different ways to interpret this passage. This is the conversation I was having with my pastor. The one that Jared and I talked about yesterday is a perfectly valid interpretation of this. There's there's nothing wrong with it.
00:04:30 I want to be clear. I'm not holding this up and saying, this is a better interpretation. I'm just pointing out that this isn't one of those examples where you can go back to a passage in the Bible back to scripture, back to a parable that Jesus, his tells and began to mine it for different levels of interpretation, because there's, there's often more than one story going on within the story.
00:04:54 You know, the traditional interpretation for the Christian Church, the master is the protagonist of the story. The master is sort of the one we're supposed to be focused on. And it makes since if you look at it in the larger pair, you know, the larger positioning it within Matthew's gospel. This gospel is part of a series of stories about the end of the age,
00:05:20 when Jesus is going to return. And this story holds up this idea of a journey story, or leave and return kind of story. And in the absence, the master in this case, Jesus or God has given over and entrusted in his servants has property. And he, he wants them to do something with it, to do according to their ability.
00:05:46 Now what's interesting is the master looks at these as a few things, despite the fact that it's very clear that a talent would be an extremely large amount money. So he puts them in charge of a few things because money is not that important. And in fact, the, the, the servants are, are faithful over those tiny things, those worldly things.
00:06:13 And so he entrusts them with greater things. In this case, the gospel is the greater thing perhaps. And so it's holding up this idea where now when we turn to the third servant, the third servant says that he's afraid and that he goes away and hides. And it's because he's afraid of his master being a hard man. It doesn't seem to be in alignment because if he really was afraid of his master,
00:06:42 and he knew that that, that he was going to reward people for growing things, he would have gone ahead and done what was necessary to grow that. So there's an inconsistency here and the master calls him evil and lazy and orders that his stuff be taken away from him in this interpretation. Jesus is the master who is preparing the disciples for an earthly departure and a return,
00:07:10 and he's leaving the gospel in their care. And, and as he returns, he's going to settle accounts with those that he's entrusted the gospel to. And the first two servants went out and put his gospel to use and grew the kingdom of heaven, but the third has hidden it. He's afraid to share it and he hasn't put it to work for the glory of God.
00:07:33 And because of that, he then is cast out it's about the judgment in this case. And that is a valid interpretation. There's also Do an interpretation that predates that, where you're looking at this with a Jewish set of eyes. And in this case, again, the master is the protagonist, but burying money is a prudent and trustworthy way to protect someone else's money.
00:08:04 In fact, in tradition, if you went and buried someone's money, you're no longer liable for that money. It was, it was looked at as a good way of protecting it. And, and this is sort of the third, the third person here, the third servant, the third slave is actually doing the right thing while the other two are not,
00:08:25 he looks at the Lord and says that he's a hard one who reaps where he does not. So th this isn't a pretty picture and Matthew is setting up the third servant and giving us a picture of where we would have sympathy for it. And so now at this point, we're kind of rooting for him, but then this third servant is sort of held up as the same thing that is happening with Israel's response to the Torah where we're Torah is supposed to be a joy for Israel.
00:09:02 There, there Israel has put over a position to command and protect them, and it's supposed to take care of them and they're supposed to take care of it. But instead at this point, you know, with, if you look at Matthew and how he talks out about the Pharisees, he's arguing that they've turned it into a hardness, they've turned it into a burden.
00:09:23 They've turned it into something that is now making it hard to fulfill the law while the law is supposed to be a joy. And that in this case case, the, the first two servants went out and put things to work, but the, that, but the third one has protected it and buried it in the first two, they've gone out and taken what should have been a joy and turned it into work.
00:09:51 And this has held up as an interpretation. That's in alignment with what going on with Israel and the Torah at that time. Now there's a third interpretation, and this is the one that my pastor taught to me about that really made me think where instead of looking at the master is the protagonists. You turn your eyes to the third servant or the third slave Dave,
00:10:16 and view them is the prac as the protagonist. If you think about it, in terms of, you know, sort of the medieval patron client world, if you think about it as a peasant economy, kind of world, where there's a limited amount of goods and supplies, there's limited food, there's limited power and traders were often viewed because they would gain wealth as evil exploiters and in an economy where there's a limited amount than somebody who's getting more,
00:10:51 can be seen as evil. And so rich were seen as taking advantage of the peasants and somewhat evil. And if you look at it in this worldview, then he calls over the master calls over his servants and gives them his, his talents, his possessions, and gives them dominion over it. But they then do exactly what he was doing. If we take it as a gift and that he truly was reaping where he did not.
00:11:18 So he was taking advantage of peasants. He was taking advantage, manage of people within the society. Perhaps he was taxing them in a way that it was unfair. Perhacs perhaps he was doing just using an abuser in some way. And so they've gone out and I made a hundred percent profit on their money, which means they've probably done something that wasn't the best way of doing things.
00:11:44 They've done something that created a burden on others. And if, if this is true, then they, them, you know, enter into the joy of your master. He's happy that they've done this, but then the third servant approaches him and calls him out in a way, he says, you're a hard man. You're collecting tribute. You're, you're stealing from others.
00:12:10 You're doing something that is not right. You're, you're collecting money where you have not actually done the work behind it. And if this is true, then the third servant acted out against this and said, I refuse to participate in this oppressive system. I refuse to take advantage of others. And that's why he buried the money. And in this case,
00:12:37 it's actually the third slave that we are being called to sort of follow it. It's the third slave that we are actually being asked to emulate. And so I use this as an example of how I love to have these conversations with people who have read more than I have, who understand things better than I do and dig into the scripture and find that often there are layers behind the layers that are worth thinking about not because they're better or worse,
00:13:11 not because they're right or they're wrong, but they expose another way that we can think about the world and use that to help us invest in others and serve others and take care of others. Thanks for listening. Thanks so much for listening to the inspired stewardship podcast, as a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen,
00:13:43 but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoy this episode, do me a favor, go over to facebook.com/inspired stewardship and like our Facebook page and market that you'd like to get notifications from us so that we can connect with you on Facebook and make sure that we're serving you to the best of our abilities with time and tips there until next time,
00:14:18 invest your time, your talent and your treasures, develop your influence and impact the world.
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We are all the heroes of our own stories, and on of the arts of perspective is to see yourself small on the stage of another’s story, to see the vast expanse of the world that is not about you, and to see your power, to make your life, to make others, or break them, to tell stories rather that be told by them. — Rebecca Solnit