As residents of South Texas we may have balmy days and nights on November; however, winter signs already came into view. Along with the cold rain coming down, acorns and pecans follow after the same, if not mention the spacecrafts, fairballs; alas, and even the baptismal font that fell before your awed eyes at this sanctuary! Together with the visible signs of dying, there are signs that cannot be seen but believed. The Scripture reading on this Sunday reminds us that the day of ending will adjust everything on return of the King of Glory. It reminds us that we must appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of what we done in this bodies, (2Co 5:10). Instead of the unspeakable joy on receiving rewards some Christians will harvest the shameful end. To help us escape such outcome the readings of this day set the tone as it calls for the watchfulness of faith and hope over against the end of our lives and the Day of Judgment.
The detailed picture of the apocalyptical episode was unfolded in “The parable of the Talents,” by Jesus himself. This parable gives not even a little room regarding the preaching of universal acceptance and unconditional mercy. It might with good intention that the modern theologians enlarge on a point of forgiveness. It says, “ We do not see Christ as our Judge until the end of the world; but now we see him as our merciful High Priest who intercedes for us before the throne of God.“ Nevertheless, we cannot escape the judgment seat of Christ; the merciful High Priest reminds us of a certain responsibility for the realization of his spiritual gifts while we are living in perishable bodies.
As far as we’ve heard and read the content of “The parable of the Talents” many times, we’ll just leap forward toward the explanation instead of reading it again. We start with a prayer asking our Teacher and the Lord Jesus Christ for guidance. “Dear Lord, open our minds to understand “The parable of the Talents.” Please remind us repeatedly of our responsibility for employing your property faithfully. Encourage us to serve you without fear and trust your promises. For you are our God, and we are the people of your pasture redeemed and blessed at this favorable time of growth. Amen.
I believe that all of us who pursue Christianity should become more aware of the fact that none of us was left ungifted at least with one talent / spiritual gift / without which all other endowments are useless. Let call this talent “the Chief” if you like. In (1Co 12:8-10) the apostle mentioned several spiritual gifts known among Christians for centuries. Friends, at this moment I ask your close attention to what I am going to say. As I will enumerate the gifts of the Holy Spirit please chose one or two as you think its your own; please be self-critical at this point. Here are the spiritual gifts you may have: intellectual; the word of wisdom; the word of knowledge; faith; healings; miracles; preaching; discrimination of spirits, tongues and their interpretation; – the ten gifts in total. I bet, I know which one you have settled in your mind. Isn’t it the faith? Yes it is! The faith is the universal and of the highest value spiritual gift.
Please remember about your preferences while we’ll go into detail with respect to monetary value of a talent, and one’s ability in management derived from the parable. In time of Jesus, one talent stood for 6,000 denarii, a bag of silver equal 75 pounds. It is a great sum of money if we take into consideration a fact that one denarius was the usual day’s wage for a worker. According to the parable the three servants received the different amount of money – one, two, and five talents. The only reason in difference cannot be explained by the lack of generosity of a giver, but by man’s personal inability. For example, one lady can drive only a compact car, other can drive a school bus, and someone else has the ability to drive a commercial truck. As employers all ladies received vehicles adequate to their skill and abilities.
As we consider for the spiritual meaning of the talents in the parable, then with the considerable degree of probability we should lay stress upon the priority of Faith as the universal and the highest value spiritual gift among other spiritual gifts we’ve learned from (1Co 12:8-10). As you remember you also have given the priority to faith as your spiritual gift when I read from this passage. The interesting thing here is that like the monetary values of one talent progressively distinguished from two or five talents so the same with Faith; there are persons of different dignity of faith in the church such as a person of “all faith,” “great faith” or “little faith,”(1Co 13:2; Mt 8:10; or Mat 6:30;). But be not afraid of having only one spiritual gift even so small like a grain of mustard seed, it is still of great value. In this connection I recall the funny story. A certain man said he was afraid he was going to be of no use in the world because he had only one talent. “Oh, that need not discourage you,” said his pastor. “What is your talent?” “The talent of judging others, of criticism,” was the answer. “Well, I advise you, do with it what the man from the ‘parable of the talents’ did, just bury it. So, the talent of judging others in a way that we would not want to apply to ourselves let be buried. On the contrary, let the precious gift of genial faith be used in full for the glory of church in Christ Jesus.
If you like try to imagine yourselves in the place of the servants whom God called to account and you will see the situation from inside. The Bible clearly teaches there will be a day of accounting for every man, woman, boy and girl. Heb. 9:27 clearly says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” It will be on return of our Lord Jesus Christ when all his servants the living and the dead will appear before his throne for accounting of how they have used the gift of faith. So, one of us who had received the five talents of faith or two or extra one will appear before the seat of Christ with hands beautified by fruits of his/her faith. Please be not misled, the fruits of faith are not “good works,” but they are the achieving of goals that we cannot achieve by our own. The fruits of faith are peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; all kinds endurance for Christ’s sake including the persecution even to the point of death; persistence in receiving of God’s promises, the delivery of God’s judgments upon the wicked; and many other such things I don’t have time to count. I reference you to (Heb11), read it prayerfully and you will find many insights with respect to the fruits of genuine faith.
The parable gives us a vision concerning rewards of the faithful Christians with things which “ ….no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,” (1Co 2:9). Hopefully, we’ll not only see but experience as well the bliss of Christ’ rewards. Meantime “… the ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. For the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous,” (Psa 1:4,5). Unfortunately, there are some people who call themselves Christians but they are not. Here we quote the Reformer Luther who said on this occasion, “ … A Christian name, and association with Christians, will count for nothing. It will profit you as little as it profits the Jews to be Abraham’s seed and disciples of Moses. Christ’s words (Mat 7:21) concern every man: ‘Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ There must be performance; faith must be manifested by works.” (Exhortation to be Imitators of God. M.Luther)
Unlike the faithful servants ‘ attitude, the unfaithful, like one pictured in the parable, will appeared with unrealized gift of faith in his/her empty hands. At this instance, the Christ’s Advent was not met with joy, rather with discontent and accusation. “Master”, the wicked servant will say, “I know that you are a severe man. You harvest crops where you have not planted. You gather where you have not scattered. So I was afraid. I went out and I didn’t use the gift of faith in my life. Here is all that belongs to you.” Actually, this reasoning was not correct regarding Masher’s character; the parable speaks aloud of Master’s exceeding generosity toward those who work hard for him. Now speaking of the upcoming Judgment at the last Day, the idles servants will be banished from the Master’s house forever for a reason that in this favorable time they walk after their own flesh and care not how to meet the requirements of being a Christian.
It is the hope of Lord Jesus Christ that all whom he received from the Father would not depart from faith but have eternal life, (Joh 17). No doubt, Jesus Christ is the most generous and compassion person in the universe. However, God’s mercy and kindness should not be associated with Christ’s tolerance towards our sins and transgressions just because he “loves sinners,” rather his love and patience is the realization of a goal concerning our repentance and the following holy life we’ve been called. Otherwise, the righteousness of Christ in us cannot be seen and if it is so we are not His children but the unfaithful and idles servants who have buried a gift of eternal life.
There is still one reminder left. It is the commemoration of Martin Chemnitz, Pastor and Theologian who was born on 9th November 1522. This man had sown plenty that is why he harvested many blessings with thanksgivings, especially Lutherans who regard him as the most important theologian after Martin Luther. He was blessed with a penetrating intellect and an almost encyclopedically knowledge of Scripture combined with a genuine love for the Church. Doctrinal quarrels after Luther’s death in 1546 led Chemnitz to give himself fully to the restoration of unity in the Lutheran Church. Chemnitz became the leading spirit and a principal author of the 1577 Formula of Concord, which settled the doctrinal disputes on the basis of the Scriptures and largely succeeded in restoring unity among Lutherans. He was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry by Johannes Bugenhagen in November 1554.
The man of faith departed at his 64th with all hope beatified with many achievements.
The beginning of November is still the joyful time of harvesting for the workers who plenty sowed and diligently cultivated. On the contrary, the folks who have let the grass grow under their feet for them no reason for joy because they reap what they sow, (Pro 11:31).
Beloved, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the faithful.