“How are you going to fare when God comes to “settle accounts” with you?” That question concludes Wednesday’s lesson in the Adult Bible Study Guide. It focuses on the parable that Jesus tells about the master who gives money to his servants/slaves. When he returns to check on their service to him, he rewards the two who double his money and humiliates the third man who was given the least and merely preserved its value. He notes that his master is a “hard man” and proclaims: “You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.” The lesson repeatedly employs an Ellen White quote that “the parable applies to the temporal means which God has entrusted to His people.”
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/sabbath-school/2023/parable-whistleblower
Thanks for a different view of this coomonly preached parable.
Excellent article, Alex. The interpretation of this passage that you share comes in line with the justice teaching and work of Jesus throughout the synoptic gospels. Theologian Ched Myers was the one who first opened my eyes to this. The traditional reading makes God worse than the greediest capitalist of today. Your reading calls us to stand up to the system that is currently devouring God’s people.
This solves a lot of misunderstanding. Thanks for links to resulting alternative reading of the parables in Matthew and Luke…
The Sabbath School Lesson author failed to state that “talent” was a measure of gold, not a talent of action. No matter, as the story is really about what you do with the Gospel. Hold it under a bushel? No. Obdience will indeed be judged at the end, in a fair and just way. Absolutely nothing in this parable even hints to a lesson on managing money, no more than the parable of the lost sheep instructs shepherds on how to raise their flock.Parables were never a lesson on the people and situations literally. If it were, then we have a lot to explain about the rich man and lazarus. Managing for the Master Till He Comes - Sabbath School Lesson 12 -"Rewards for Faithfulness" - YouTube
Let me begin by saying how glad I am that after today, this quarter’s lessons will be over. However, I am chagrined to realize that we will next have 13 weeks of the Three Angel’s Messages…oh my.
But I have heard another interpretation of the referenced parable in this week’s lesson, which might add, in a way, to the fine essay penned by Mr. Carpenter.
Indeed, we have all been subjected to the misinterpretation that a ‘talent’ is some kind of personal ability. In first century Judah, a talent was a weight of gold…in other words, currency. In fact, the colloquial use of the word ‘talent’ to describe the ability to play piano or some other personal capability came much later.
In keeping with Jesus’ emphasis on care for the poor and marginalized, the Parable could be interpreted to represent the fact that in life, we all have ‘opportunities’ to serve others. Ephesians 2:10 speaks to this. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” NLT. And the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, along with that of the Good Samaritan also support the concept. But I still like the idea of the Whistleblower!
I don’t really have anything intelligent to contribute, but thank you for all the work you put into taking this quarter’s lessons in a different, useful, direction. I particularly appreciated calling out the complete lack of corporate accountability. It’s always been my experience that when one questions that (or especially how the tithe policy is Biblical), it’s met with accusations of a “bad spirit” or viewing it as a “business transaction.”
As I’ve gotten cynica…er, older, I realize that they’re fair questions, and the ad hominem attacks instead of actual conversation say enough.
Putting this parable into the context of Matthew 24 and 25, it seems that Jesus is telling his disciples that they should prepare for there to be a delay in his return (the parable of the ten virgins) and then this parable of the “talents” instructs them how they should spend their time and resources during that delay. This story would not have been terribly strange to them from their everyday lives.
As most people recognize, there’s not a one-for-one correlation of characters in a parable. So it’s a misconstrual to designate the master as a representation of God. That much is more than clear in everything else that Jesus teaches about the Father. However, Jesus’ hearers would have been shocked at the servant insulting his master by blaming his own failure on his master’s character!
I have wondered if Jesus is telling us in this parable that what we think the Father is like will make all the difference in how we spend our time and resources during the delay. If we believe him to be harsh, we won’t even put his gold in the bank where it will gain interest. Rather, we’ll be rebellious and careless, putting his gold in a cloth in the dirt where it’s not even safe. But if we believe him to be generous, we will want to be generous back. “For in this way, God loved the world so much…” Love begets love. It seems to me that the most important question we will ever deal with is who we believe God to be.
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