When the preacher starts talking about talent it can be a frightening subject for the folks in the pews. “Not another talent survey!” It either means that I am going to get pigeon holed into a job for the rest of my life or I will go to all this work, answer all these bizarre questions and then the results will get filed away and never used. I have always wanted to have a slot on the talent survey for “My talent is helping implement talent surveys.” I never found that person.
Today we hear the dramatic parable of the talents in Matthew 25 which Matthew set right before the Last Supper, betrayal, trial, crucifixion and death of Jesus in chapters 26-27. Next Sunday, we will hear the equally dramatic story of the sheep and the goat judgment which follows immediately after this story and concludes chapter 25.
I believe that these two sections of chapter 25 are perhaps the most dramatically misunderstood sections in the entire NT. They are too often divorced from the words of Jesus immediately prior and the events which immediately follow upon them and which Matthew intended to be read in close proximity. They are also plucked out of the preceding context of the eschatological discourse in chapter 24. This is particularly acute as many of us take a break from the Sunday cycle of readings for Reformation Day and All Saints and thus do not even read these preceding chapters. I would encourage you personally to rectify that before you preach on these texts. Read chapter 24 of Matthew and try to puzzle some of that out. It is not easy.