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The Meaning of the Parable of the Talents

We learn next that each servant has a different amount of money entrusted to him, “Each according to his ability.” (Matthew 25: 15) Everyone receives something, but not everyone receives the same amount.

In our day and age it is tempting to complain that we have not received as much as someone else, but we can be sure that God Himself has given us the ability to care for what we have. In other words, we are responsible, and we are able!

“After a long time the master of those servants returned,” Jesus continued. He is telling us that his return is sure, even though it may not always feel so. Upon his return we are called into account regarding our faithfulness with his gifts. All of us give an account. The second coming is not only about Jesus, and not merely about others, it is also about us. In the last day we, too, have a role to play.

Sharing in the Master’s Happiness

Each servant in the story presents the master with the results of their stewardship. They tell their own story first as the Master listens, but the Master has the final word. When the first servant demonstrates that he has managed his affairs well, the Master speaks. This is perhaps the most surprising aspect of Jesus’ story: the Master invites the faithful servant to share in the master’s happiness (Matthew 25: 21).

Sometimes our view of the Second Coming is so centered on the Judgment of God that we have overlooked the joyful nature of his return for those who are prepared. Perhaps this is why the Old Testament prophets referred to Christ’s return as the “great and glorious day of the Lord.” (Joel 2:31)

On his return, Jesus will look for those whom he can invite into his joy. True, there will be judgment, but the Master’s motivation is to share his happiness with all those who have longed for his coming.

Of course, Jesus also tells us about a third servant who presented the Master only the single coin he received at the beginning. Even here we can learn something about how to prepare for Christ’s return. The last servant viewed the Master as a harsh and unrelenting taskmaster, and the servant’s fear caused him to make unwise choices as he prepared for the day of return.

The Meaning of the Parable of the Talents

Is there a lesson for us from the third servant? Perhaps we should see that our view of God will determine the choices we make. Do we see Christ as “a hard man” with unfair and unrealistic expectations of us? (Matthew 25: 24) If we do, it will cause us to live our current days in fear, with unprofitable results.

Only those who eagerly look forward to the return of Christ can find the freedom to live with confidence now. The Apostle Paul understood the freedom we can experience through the grace of God when he recounted the words, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (II Corinthians 12: 9)

In these parables of the second coming each story contains a depth of teaching regarding how we can prepare for his return in the everyday choices we make now. When he returns he will look for those to whom he can extend the invitation, “Come, share in My happiness!”


This article on the meaning of the parable of the talents originally appeared here, and is used by permission.