Unburied Life | Matthew 25:14-30
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 25:14–25:30
Introduction | More Fun Times with the End Times
Good Morning! We are in our Summer Eschatology series looking at a particularly challenging section in Matthew Ch 24 and 25. These chapters are an extended period of teaching Jesus gives his disciples which falls into the category of Eschatology (Study of the End Times). Jesus is about to go to the cross and he wants his disciples and us to know what our lives should like and be defined by between now and when he returns. When Jesus came first is was for salvation, when he returns it will be for Judgement. We will be accountable to King Jesus for our lives. This is true for all, those who currently have no concern for Jesus, and those who profess to know and follow him. I say profess because last week we end with the parable of the bridesmaids, invited to the wedding, desired the wedding, professed to be ready for the wedding; but there was division between those who had short-term zeal, but foolishly didn’t respond with action and those who were prepared for a long obedience. The wise entered the feast while the foolish were left out, because the Lord of the feast said “Truly, I do not know you.” The focus for disciples of Jesus is to remain vigilant during this in-between period between Jesus ascension and His return. This week the parable shifts from vigilance to diligence, as the church’s call to “keep watch” goes deeper to include “keep working.”
Matthew 25:14-30 14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Verse 14-18 | Purchased for a Purpose
This isn’t a proof text for Jesus being a free market capitalist, well maybe it is. God is THE owner of everything, and everything exists with a purpose, to increasingly produce and magnify His glory, and produce life-giving and life enriching joy for those He employees as stewards, servants. Our very lives, our breath, all we have and all we are given, none it is our own, it all comes from God.
1 Cor 6:19-20 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
This is why we exist, to glorify God. Yet we know each of us has sin, and has, sinned falling short of the glory of God. The Gospel of Jesus death for us and resurrection says we are purchased for a purpose. Because we are purchased we are no longer slaves to our own sin but to God’s good purposes. As slaves he entrusts us and distributes to us His property with the understanding we will be accountable for it.
What’s a “talent”? It’s not “America’s Got Talent” or the ability to run fast, or play notes well, but this word is where we get the concept from. It’s something that is both given, actively stewarded, and reaps rewards.
Specifically, a “talent” is a weight of gold, silver, or other precious metal. It is roughly estimated to be equal to 20 years of wages for the average person. To translate into terms we can best understand the median income in Snohomish County is $67k per year. 1 Talent = Roughly 1.35 Million. 2 Talents = 2.7 million; and 5 talents = 6.75 million. I want us to have these numbers not to better understand 1st century Palestine but to get a concept of how incredibly gifted EACH of these servants of the master were. All were gifted differently, but the guy with one talent was exactly given a Starbucks gift card.
Each according to his ability. God knows what your best you is capable of. He made you. Each of us are absolutely equal image-bearers before God, each of us are absolutely equal in value to God. However, we are all distinct in our design, gifting and abilities all according to God’s good design. God does gift and distribute to His servants differently including some more than others, but ALL are equipped lavishly.
Beyond simple financial terms, what is the measure our talent(s) we have been given? All the giftings, money, intellect/reason, time, experiences, influence, passions, and energy that make us who we are. Where do these come from and for what purpose? All that we have an all that we truly are come from God to be used for God. Conversely, nothing we “have” is from ourselves. Where would each of these servants be without the explicit giftings from the master? How much would they have? What could they accomplish? Apart from the masters will and provision the answer is: Absolutely Nothing.
Neither is given explicit instructions, they’re all to respond on their own initiatives based on who the see themselves to be and who they know the master to be. There are two responses put on display to the life we’ve been given. The first is Gospel Life, the second is Buried Life.
Gospel Life: Gospel Life is resurrected Life. The gospel leads to new life and new life isn’t buried life. Our old self focused life is buried with Christ and risen for Him we will begin to live out a new life with a new purpose, new desires leading to great profit and ultimately joy. What we do doesn’t save us, but being saved changes what we do. Our work(s) matters to God and is a sign of what we understand about him and who we truly are. Our work flows from our faith and we see that played out here. Verse 16 says the one with five went out “at once”. Jesus is always taking about urgency. In this case it’s related to getting to work. #5 and #2 “Can you believe what we’ve been given? Let’s go take this and throw a big party or buy something we’ve always wanted. No! Look at what we have been given! Can you believe how much this is? What could we use this to be productive make everything even better?!” Gospel Life is one of freedom, freedom to be faithful and not be consumed with the results. The point wasn’t in the profit but in the faithfulness to pursue what is profitable. These guys went worked and pursued without fear. They knew the character of their master and were too overwhelmed with how good he was to them to be afraid.
Gospel Life is an Invested Life – Is one that’s watching the day-to-day making adjustments, riding some big highs and mourning some losses. It is anticipating life. It is exciting life. “I don’t know what is going to happen today, but I know what my purpose is everyday. Note: it doesn’t say it was some straight-line profit if fact we don’t know anything about the in-between other than at the end it was ultimately profitable. For who? The master, He gets the glory and we get the joy! It’s so much better to work for someone and doing something of meaning then checking out and being bored. How do you view your life? Fear or freedom?
The first two men took what they were given and maximized what it was able to accomplish. Iron Cowboy.
Buried Life – Buried life is fearful life. I don’t want to lose it so I won’t use it. It’s hidden, unseen and unused.
We all live buried lives. God gives us great gifts and we bury them with our own sin. God gives us bodies, we bury them with gluttony. God gives us minds and we bury them with substances. God gives us marriage, we bury it with affections for others. God gives us children and we bury them with abortion or unrealistic expectations for how they will please us. God gives us time and we bury it with idle pursuits and entertainment. God gives us money and we bury it with debt, over spending, and a lack of generosity. God gives us relationships and we bury them with bitterness. What part of your life have you buried?
Buried life is bored life. You are not truly invested in anything that matters so the stakes in everything seem meaningless. You aren’t too worried about loss but you have no gain to look forward to, there is no value in the experienced gained (or not gained) from buried talent. So you’re constantly looking at different distractions but you don’t actually get to focus on anything that actually matters. To hide what God has given us removes opportunities for us to, bring glory to God. We bury the life God gives us through sloth. We neglect consuming God’s word, we fail to pray. We bury our lives in the pursuit of things that don’t matter. We seek pleasure, covet what we don’t have and are self-focused with what we do have. Each day we keep His talents buried we are robbing God of the return and glory he deserves for giving them to us in the first place. In essence we are saying, “What I have been given is not of much value so I don’t have to use it any meaningful way, it can be used, not used, squandered because it is ultimately worthless.
We mourn unused/unrealized talent, ESPN 30-for-30 on Marques Dupree was “The Best that Never Was.”
Verse 19-23 | Accounting Time
After a LONG TIME, the master returns and calls his servants to account. Don’t forget this is in the context of answering the question of when he’s coming back. Urgency yes, unknown yes, but faithfulness in the in between is a paramount idea. Gospel Life is a long one before accounting. We said last week we live unaccountable lives, here we see just how accountable we are. It’s not just in the faithful waiting but in our doing. Yes, our doing matters to God. Jesus wants us to actually be productive with what he has given us. Jesus is all about accountability. What is your idea of what accountability looks like? In the church we have turned the concept of accountability into a simplistically safe keeping each other from pursuing or engaging in active sin. We need a comprehensive understanding of accountability that Jesus is teaching here. Yes he cares not only about us avoiding or fleeing active sin and rebellion but he ALSO cares, and we are accountable for, what we have done with the life we have been given. We see the first two come to the master eager to give a report starting with the source of the talents they stewarded. Gospel life first acknowledges the source and does not forget where what you have been given comes from. What we believe about anything absolutely impacts what we do about it. These servants believed what they had was the master’s and they used it productively to dramatically increase what they were originally entrusted with. Gospel Life is an abundant life (Jn 10:10) empowered and motivated by the Master.
Well done, good and faithful servant. Gospel Life gives us all the approval and affirmation we could ever seek here today and at the end of our days! Then he says you have been “faithful over little” Little?! We are talking about thousands of days of labor, millions of dollars, billions of breaths, trillions of heart beats! Gospel Life puts God’s resources and power into perspective as we see what is both big and precious to us is small in comparison to God’s infinite being and inexhaustible resources. What do you get at accounting time of a Gospel Life? An award to sit back and admire? No, more than affirmation and accolades, you get rewarded with a promotion! Greater responsibility! Really that’s a value? Yes because it’s in the Joy of the Master. This can simply mean joy or it can be a reference to a festival!
The Backroads Bike Tour Company at the end of the long season takes their employees on a massive celebration ride. It’s a reward with joyful work with the founder of the company, pedal by pedal. Who gets rewarded with the joy of the Master? Verse 21 and 23 Jesus uses identical speech in addressing the first two servants. Each gets the same praise and reward because God isn’t as concerned with your explicit fruitfulness but in your long-term and steadfast faithfulness. Those are two different things. The reward is not based on the total amount produced but what you did with what you were given.
“Here some drops of joy enter into us, but there we shall enter into joy.” Scottish Pastor, Robert Leighton
Verse 24-27 | Slander and Sloth
The third servant is the opposite of accountable. Rather than coming with the fruit of his labors, he only brings excuses. Biggest difference is in his belief about the master. He begins not with affirming the source of his talent but in questioning the character of the master. “You’re a hard man”. Who reaps what you don’t sow. “You get something but you don’t do anything!” This servant has completely ignored the cost of reaping and sowing and the price that was paid for the master’s servants. Additionally, he owns a lie from the beginning that somehow God is holding out on you, doesn’t love you, and isn’t for you! We were given the garden and yet didn’t think it much, and buried the memory of the God who loves us. He has slandered the master. Yet his Buried Life is not consistent with his theology. His view of the Master is evil, tough, unfair, but doesn’t turn to religion, fearful diligence but throws it all up and goes to slothful indifference to God. At judgement/accounting time he simply says “Here’s is what is yours back! (Jewish tradition was “I want nothing more to do with this.”) He says I am not responsible for this, but Jesus says “You are responsible.”
The master then responds to this servant. “You’ve got it half-right. I do have productive purposes for my people and my possessions, but I am not a hard man. I desire production to lead to joy and flourishing”
Buried life brings no glory to the master and no joy for the servant and it is actually worse than the bare “minimum” amount of return. Interest in the days of Jesus ranged from 12%-50%. Over a long period of time, He could and should have been able to double what he was given simply by being minimally faithful.
By valuing hesitation, fear, and indifference over boldness, confidence, and passion, potential was beyond squandered, it was buried. A Buried Life is a life wasted. A buried life is a “safe” life, but we’re not called to safety or neutrality . “To do no harm, is the praise of a stone, not of a man.” Puritan, Richard Baxter.
When I took over as the lead of Damascus Road Church I know I began to lead with fear. As each family and staff member transitioned to other churches I acted like the worthless servant who was more focused on preserving what he was given then taking it, investing in and with it. I was more worried than I was working. In a way I think I was burying the church. This was shown to me as sin and by God’s grace I repented and began to lead, serve, and invests with the joy and zeal of the faithful servants. God has been exceedingly good to Damascus Road Church this year and I/we are not done working yet! Until you die or until Jesus comes back it is never too late to repent and unbury your life!
We when we desire and seek safety and security over God’s glory we will make choices out of fear.
You want safety and security look to Jesus. Safety, we’re not reckless but we do understand what our purpose is! We don’t live life for self-preservation but for God glorification. The Church after Jesus ascension without the Holy Spirit was a buried church. They were literally holed up in the upper room, hoping to be buried until Jesus comes back. Then the Holy Spirit shows up and all the sudden it’s go time!
Verse 28-30 | Redistribution of Wealth and Wrath
Buried life leads to destroyed life. You are so worried about safety and security and preservation, you’ll lose what you’re holding on to so tightly. It will be taken from you and put to purposes that are profitable.
The talent is taken because of the unfaithfulness not so the rich can be wealthy on the backs of the poor.
This servant is judged not for not producing as much as the others but for failing to use the life he’s been given to glorify the master. The servant wasn’t condemned for having little, he was condemned for doing nothing. He also wasn’t a violent murderer or adulterer, he didn’t even waste the money on his own enjoyment. Doing nothing is not moderate or neutral; it is the heart of ruin. The living active Holy Spirt of God that resurrected our Lord Jesus from the dead doesn’t come in your life to leave you sleepily, slothful, or dead. It brings life and action. Profession is meaningless if it doesn’t lead to practice.
You bury what God has given you and you’ll end up buried as well! Worse than buried Jesus says he will be cast into the outer darkness. Outer darkness has no light, no joy, constant suffering. It is the opposite of entering into joy! You live a buried life, don’t expect joyful life when its time meet the master.
Wicked, slothful, worthless, unprofitable servants are really not servants at all. This is all of us apart from the gifting of the master. Buried servants are all the servants Jesus has to work with. Jesus is in the business of unburying His valuable possession and making them exceedingly productive! The Gospel meets us in our worthlessness, and makes us new to live new profitable lives for Jesus because of Jesus. The Master isn’t back so we can still repent, be unburied, put the life given from Him to work for Him and be prepared to meet the master and hear “well done good and faithful servant” when we. Trust Jesus!