Sermon + Having Faith to take a Risk

This is Pastor Brian Campbell’s sermon from November 15, 2020 on Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of the Talents.

Pastor Brian Campbell’s sermon from November 15 from the Church at Home service.
Pastor Brian Campbell’s sermon from November 15 from the service at Redeemer.

May we learn from God’s words & stories, working to bring the Kingdom here to Earth. AMEN.

  • Sometimes, like the parable we heard last Sunday about the foolish bridesmaids, you have to struggle to understand what Jesus is describing or explaining.
    • Other times, you hear a parable like this one, and the lesson we are supposed to learn seems so obvious.
      • Here, it seems we are to think about how we are using our talents.
      • Are we using them to share God’s love and the Good News, or are we hiding them?
      • While that is a good question for us to think about on a daily basis, I don’t think that is the message Jesus wants us to take from this parable.
  • This group of Matthew’s parables are descriptions of what the kingdom will be like, and we struggle to find grace in the judgement.
    • It was clear in the parable of the bridesmaids, those who don’t do as they are supposed to risk being tossed out into a void with weeping and gnashing of teeth,
    • The moral of the story doesn’t sound very Christ-like.
      • For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. [a]
        • The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
          • This isn’t a description of what the kingdom will be like.
          • It describes the reality of life.
  • The more I read the parable, what didn’t make sense was the way the third servant, Mr. One Talent, described the property owner.
    • If you imagine that the king is God or Jesus, this parable doesn’t make sense.
    • The description of the landowner or king doesn’t match any description of God.
      • The king is “a harsh man” who reaps where he does not sow.
        • God is the creator and provider of all we have and all we need.
          • God has sown all of creation, and can reap everywhere.
    • How do we reconcile the generous Jesus of love and compassion we know with an abusive capitalist who would deny housing and even life to a frightened servant?
      • The problem is that Mr. One Talent doesn’t know Jesus.
        • Despite being trusted and invited to partake in the abundance of the master’s estate, Mr. One Talent does not to recognize the love that is offered.
        • Just as in earlier parables, we saw wedding guests refuse an invitation, tenants trying to seize the property entrusted to them, and bridesmaids show no care for the coming groom, this parable gives us another example of those whom Jesus reaches out to, only to be rejected.
  • Why do we think the landlord is as awful as the third servant makes out?
    • We don’t hear of him as good or bad before Mr. One Talent speaks.
    • Also, the other servants do not seem afraid.
      • They take the money they have been given and go out and trade – that is, they go out and risk their wealth in the marketplace.
      • They see being given the talents as a sign of their master’s confidence in them.
        • Only Mr. One Talent is paralyzed by fear; the others were willing to take a risk because they see being given all that wealth as a sign of faith in them.
    • The master responds to Mr. One Talent’s charge as a question, “You knew, did you?[b]
      • The master may have decided to play the role assigned him:
    • I think this is part of the lesson this parable wants us to learn.
      • Many of our relationships become self-fulfilling prophecies.
        • We get what we think we are going to get.
        • If we think a situation is going to be too much for us to handle, we tend to find a way to have things to test us.
      • We get a God who meets our expectations.
        • If we see God as prone to punishment, we believe that everything bad in our lives is punishment from God.
        • If we see God as loving, we find it easier to love ourselves and others.
      • Often, what you see in life is just what you get.
    • What kind of God do you see, and how does that call upon you to act?
      • If we see God as gracious, we lead more grace-filled lives.
      • If we see God as forgiving, it is easier to receiving and give forgiveness.
        • We may be more willing to take risks, knowing we will be forgiven if we fail.
    • The satisfaction for a job well done for the first two servants was not over the fortune they earned for their master, but because they did the work entrusted to them.
      • The congratulations the master gives each of them is identical.
        • The master was glad for the quality of their work, not the quantity of the reward.
        • His joy in their willingness to use the blessings he gave them.
        • His disappointment in Mr. One Talent is that he buried the blessing given to him.
  • The master was happy that two of the servants used what he had given them, and since Mr. One Talent believed he served a harsh man; he was treated harshly.
    • The servants who entered into the joy of their master, believed they served a master who would forgive them if their investment efforts were less, or totally, unsuccessful.
    • The servants were willing to take a risk with the blessings they had been given.
      • They had faith in the goodness and mercy of the master they served.
      • THAT is the message we should take from this parable.
        • When the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. preached on this lesson in his early days at Dexter Avenue Church in Birmingham, Alabama, he said:
          • An individual is judged not by the number of talents he possesses, but by his faithful in handling what he has. The question is not “how much talent have you earned” but “how much faithfulness have you manifested.” [c]
      • I hope that we are willing to take risks in sharing and showing our faith.
        • I pray we are willing to do things in new and different ways to proclaim the Good News.
        • Despite the chaos of these times and in our lives, I do not believe that we will bury our blessings in the ground, and be unwilling to risk losing them. 
        • If we have faith that God loves us, and will show us grace and mercy, we must be willing to be full of faith to risk using, and possibly losing, what God has blessed us with.
          • We may fail, or we may be successful.
        • Dr. King also preached: No greater thing can be said in a person funeral than: “he has been faithful and loyal.” There is a reward for faithfulness. “Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”[d]
      • With the blessings that God has given you, be they a few or many, be faithful in using them, and enter into the joy of your master.


[a]     Matthew 25.29.

[b]     Matthew 25.26.

[c]     Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, “Opportunity, Fidelity, and Reward,” Sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, January 1955?,

[d]     Ibid.

Gospel + Matthew 25:14-30

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