Friday, August 17, 2007

The parable of the missing talents

I have been preaching on the topic of Jesus and money. One of the business people in the church asked me what I thought was an excellent question: what would Jesus have said if one of the people in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-28) had lost money. It got me thinking about how domesticated the Parable has become, and prompted me to have a go at contemporarising the parable in light of contemporary ethical issues.

Any suggestions to the “What would Jesus say? gratefully accepted, as Sunday’s coming!


“Again, it will be like a businesswoman going on a journey, who called her servants and entrusted her property to them. To one she gave 3.5 million dollars, to another 1.5 million, and to another 700,000, each according to their ability. Then she went on her journey. The one who had received the 3.5 million went at once and put his money to work and gained 3.5 million more. So also, the one with the 1.5 million gained 1.5 million more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, and placed it in Kiwisaver.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the 3.5 million brought the other 3.5 million. ‘Master,’ she said, ‘you entrusted me with 3.5 million. See, I have gained 3.5 million more. I set up a sweat shop in Thailand and used bonded labour to supply cheap chairs for growing churches.

What would Jesus say to that?

“The one with the 1.5 million also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with 1.5 million. I invested them in the share markets and foreign exchange currency. But I lost my money when the Kiwi dollar crashed.’

What would Jesus say to that?

“Then the man who had received the 700,000 came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard woman, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was careful and cautious and planned for my retirement and I invested in Kiwisaver. When I retire, I am sure that you will get what belongs to you.’

What would Jesus say to that?

Posted by steve at 05:22 PM


  1. Sylvia Keesmaat wrote an fantastically interesting piece on this parable that flipped the entire meaning of the story around and tied it into the narrative of Jesus and Zaccheus.

    The suggestion was that the King represented the status quo and the despised servant, those who follow a different (better) path.

    Comment by jeremy — August 18, 2007 @ 8:05 pm

  2. This is probably too late for you due to time differences but I’ll send anyway as food for thought.
    I have been pondering your question of what would Jesus say to that for a while now. Hard to come up with anything except the following:
    The minor prophets (particularly Amos from memory) say that God is more interested in justice than sacrifice. Which makes me think that if the servant had said this to Jesus, he would’ve challenged the servant about justice. On the other hand. I think the businesswoman would’ve said well done.
    Not sure on the foreign exchange thing, but I think the Kiwisaver retirement would’ve had Jesus say, “but I want what belongs to me now not in the future which you don’t know about”, and in fact Jesus would probably remind the servant of another parable about the man who decided to build a bigger barn – tonight your very life will be taken, so what good is a bigger barn?
    A very challenging way of looking at the parable though.

    Comment by wokboy — August 19, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

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