The word talent in the parable in Matthew 25:14-30 is an unfortunate coincidence. It takes us naturally to what might be a good place to consider - our talents as a gift from God - but away from Jesus' intent while telling the story. Karen noticed a couple neat points at on this parable at the Hardest Question this week that really got me thinking.
1) How much was a talent? It is a year's salary! The servant that got 'a talent' isn't getting a pittance, he's getting a treasure. I can imagine hiding $10 so I don't lose it. Hiding $100,000 feels more like a crime.
2) Treasure = Torah. This is about the Word that we all receive. Are we going to fence it in, or share and thus multiply it? This parable comes right after the wise and foolish bridesmaids, and this helps it connect.
So this week for the youth study, we'll try another dramatic reading. When we did that before, with the parable of the unforgiving servant, it was a big hit, and seemed to make a big difference in the students' understanding of the scripture.
We'll start by talking about 'if you won the lottery...' and then shift to 'if investor's gave you the start up money for a business...'
After the first readthrough of the text: Matthew 25:14-30 (God's Word)
The kingdom of heaven is like a man going on a trip. He called his servants and entrusted some money to them. He gave one man ten thousand dollars, another four thousand dollars, and another two thousand dollars. Each was given money based on his ability. Then the man went on his trip. The one who received ten thousand dollars invested the money at once and doubled his money. The one who had four thousand dollars did the same and also doubled his money. But the one who received two thousand dollars went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.
After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The one who received ten thousand dollars brought the additional ten thousand. He said, ‘Sir, you gave me ten thousand dollars. I’ve doubled the amount.’ His master replied, ‘Good job! You’re a good and faithful servant! You proved that you could be trusted with a small amount. I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s happiness.’
The one who received four thousand dollars came and said, ‘Sir, you gave me four thousand dollars. I’ve doubled the amount.’ His master replied, ‘Good job! You’re a good and faithful servant! You proved that you could be trusted with a small amount. I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s happiness.’
Then the one who received two thousand dollars came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you are a hard person to please. You harvest where you haven’t planted and gather where you haven’t scattered any seeds. I was afraid. So I hid your two thousand dollars in the ground. Here’s your money!’ His master responded, ‘You evil and lazy servant! If you knew that I harvest where I haven’t planted and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have invested my money with the bankers. When I returned, I would have received my money back with interest. Take the two thousand dollars away from him! Give it to the one who has the ten thousand! To all who have, more will be given, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken away from those who don’t have much. Throw this useless servant outside into the darkness. People will cry and be in extreme pain there.’We'll consider these kind of issues:
- what should the money amounts be for our day and age?
- what did the master sound like giving the talents?
- what would they have felt like being entrusted with this? After the return?
- why is the master so mad at the third servant?