Matthew 25 (contd.) – Sheep, Goats, and Four Hundred Thousand Dollars

Matthew 25 Bible with Splendid Dark Chocolate with Orange

Today’s ChocolateSplendid 70% Dark Chocolate with Orange

Today’s PassageMatthew 25

If you like parables, then good news: by popular request, we’re returning to Matthew 25 for the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Sheep and Goats. And by “popular request,” I mean that one person requested it. If you don’t like parables, then I don’t know what to tell you.

We’ve already seen the Parable of the Talents in Luke 19:12-27. In Luke’s account, the framework is the same, but there are ten slaves, and they are each given a mina, which the NASB notes was about a hundred days’ wages. In Matthew, on the other hand, only three slaves appear in the story, and they’re entrusted with different amounts of money, “each according to his own ability” (Matt. 25:15). One receives five talents, another three, and the last guy just one. Moreover, according to the NASB’s margin notes, a talent represents about fifteen years’ wages for a laborer. Even the slave who was given the least to work with here had substantially more in his pouch than any of the ten slaves from Luke’s account.

Additionally, Luke notes that the man in charge is a nobleman, and that his citizens revolt against him while he’s away. When he returns from his journey, he has to attend to the business of punishing the treasonous citizens. He tells the loyalists, “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence” (Luke 19:27). Matthew doesn’t mention the man’s management of his demesne, but flip back a few pages and you’ll find similar themes of judgment in the Parable of the Vineyard and the Parable of the Great Banquet (Matt. 21:33-22:14).

It seems likely to me that Jesus told at least two different versions of this parable, and that he told them both while in Jerusalem. But when you couple it with the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, there’s a strong theme of judgment running through this section of Matthew. I remember at one Bible study I went to, the guy leading the study half-jokingly summarized the point of the Parable of the Talents as “If you don’t have at least two, you go to hell.” It’s ironic that Jesus would deliver these pronouncements of coming judgment, particularly upon Jerusalem’s religious leaders, only to turn around and be the subject of judgment and crucifixion soon afterward.

But the Parable of the Sheep and Goats cautions us: Jesus identifies himself with the hungry and thirsty, the homeless, the impoverished, the sick and the imprisoned. He throws in his chips with them, and if we callously mistreat them, we can expect no mercy from the Son of God.

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