Sunday, November 8, 2020

Proper 28 Series A

Proper 28 Series A
(15 November 2020) 
Series A 

Zephaniah 1:7–16
1 Thessalonians 5:1–11
Matthew 25:14–30

God’s Gift of Forgiveness Engenders Our Forgiveness of Others

The Day of the Lord is “near and hastening fast,” and it will be “a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation” (Zephaniah 1:14, 15). The Lord will search out and punish “the men who are complacent” concerning His Word, “who fill their master’s house with violence and fraud” (Zephaniah 1:9, 12). Then all their works and efforts will be for nothing: “Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them” (Zephaniah 1:13). 

But those who fear, love and trust in the Lord are “good and faithful” stewards of His property (Matthew 25:21). They live by faith in His free gift of forgiveness, and they multiply His goods in the loving forgiveness of their neighbor, and “the master of those servants” settles His accounts with them by the gracious reckoning of His Gospel (Matthew 25:19). Likewise, “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Therefore, let us also “put on the breastplate of faith and love” in our dealings with one another (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

Using What He Has Entrusted

Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege 

You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed” (Matthew 25:26)                                                                        

In Sunday’s parable Jesus gives a hint as to how His stewards are to invest the “money” entrusted to them.  In giving us the response of the wicked steward Jesus highlights a farming metaphor:  Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed [v  24].  To this lazy steward Jesus continues the farming metaphor:  You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed [v 26]?

The first recorded parable of Jesus is the parable of the sower.  Might Jesus be returning His hearers to this parable when in the parable before us He uses the same illustration of sowing and reaping? The master’s expectation of His stewards is that they sow His seed, using what He has given them to do this. 

God’s Word as a seed became an illustration of the Apostles’ work. Paul describes his apostolic work as the planting of a seed:  I planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the growth [1 Co 3:6].  In his first epistle the Apostle Peter credits a Christian’s new birth to the seed of God’s Word: …you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God [1:23].  

Truly the Lord Jesus created the super-powerful seed of the Gospel by His death and resurrection.  This Gospel-seed must be the foundation of every sermon, every Baptism, every absolution, every celebration of Holy Communion, and of all outreach endeavors.  It is by this seed that people are both brought to faith in Jesus and established in this faith. It is by this seed that the Holy Spirit enters the hearts of people, establishing them as eternal saints in Christ.

The Gospel-seed is fundamentally the “Word of the cross.” This seed, when sown, has power to grow and produce abundantly.  Saint Paul explains its power:  For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God [1 Cor 1:18].  And again a few verses later: …we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God…[23,24].  To the Romans Paul again sets forth the power of the Gospel: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation…[v 16]. 

The Gospel is a seed that is to be sown, and Christ has entrusted the sowing of this seed to His church.  In this Sunday’s parable our Lord speaks of entrusting money to His servants.  Though “servants” can be any Christian, yet uniquely in both the Old and New Testaments God’s called “servants” are the “official” proclaimers of His Word.  They know it is their unique calling to scatter the seed of the Gospel, for they know that Jesus, even as he explains in the parable, will reap where He personally did not sow the seed…but He expects to reap!  Woe to the pastor who does not thus scatter the Gospel-seed!

So what about the “money” entrusted to the servants in the parable?  The money can be seen to represent all the Gospel-related opportunities entrusted to a given pastor and congregation.  Not everyone will be given equal Gospel-opportunities. The “money” may represent the literal wealth by which a congregation supports the scattering of the Gospel-seed, or it may represent the community in which a congregation is located, or it may represent the willingness of God’s people to work together to support and share the Gospel. Some pastors and congregations have more and others less, but if we have less opportunities we dare not simply bury them.  May we as congregations and pastors fully use the opportunities entrusted to us, and thus scatter the seed of the super-powerful Gospel within the church, as well as outside it to those who must yet come to believe in the Word of the Cross.

Matthew 25:14 
Ὥσπερ γὰρ ἄνθρωπος ἀποδημῶν ἐκάλεσεν τοὺς ἰδίους δούλους καὶ παρέδωκεν αὐτοῖς τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ,
it will be as a man who went on a journey. Calling his own slaves he distributed his property.   

The apostles are listening privately. We're listening in. We can extrapolate who these servants are but doing...he hands over his goods.

Matthew 25:15 
καὶ ᾧ μὲν ἔδωκεν πέντε τάλαντα ᾧ δὲ δύο ᾧ δὲ ἕν, ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν δύναμιν, καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν. εὐθέως  
to one he gave five talents to another two to another one each according his own power/might/ability...then he went away.  

This is not equal. He gives them what they can handle. No little no less. Equality is predicated on difference not sameness. 

A talent = the tribute one nation owes another.  Trillions here...

Matthew 25:16 
[a]πορευθεὶς ὁ τὰ πέντε τάλαντα λαβὼν ἠργάσατο ἐν αὐτοῖς καὶ [b]ἐκέρδησεν ἄλλα [c]πέντε• 
the man who had the five, worked the them and gained another five. 

Matthew 25:17
[d]ὡσαύτως ὁ τὰ δύο [e]ἐκέρδησεν ἄλλα δύο•
So also the one given two traded two more. 

Matthew 25:18
 ὁ δὲ τὸ ἓν λαβὼν ἀπελθὼν ὤρυξεν [f]γῆν καὶ [g]ἔκρυψεν τὸ ἀργύριον τοῦ κυρίου αὐτοῦ.
But to the one he dug and hid the silver of his Lord.  

He did not want the responsibility he did not trust the Lord. Genesis 3 again. 

Matthew 25:19
μετὰ δὲ [h]πολὺν χρόνον ἔρχεται ὁ κύριος τῶν δούλων ἐκείνων καὶ συναίρει [i]λόγον μετ’ αὐτῶν
After much time the Lord of those slaves came and took up works with of reckoning. 

Matthew 25:20
καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ τὰ πέντε τάλαντα λαβὼν προσήνεγκεν ἄλλα πέντε τάλαντα λέγων• Κύριε, πέντε τάλαντά μοι παρέδωκας• ἴδε ἄλλα πέντε τάλαντα [j]ἐκέρδησα. 
Coming to him the one with five said "Lord you handed over to me five talents (a confession of grace w/o any instruction and recklessly invested it) gaining five more. 

No instruction on what to do with it but they do with it as they believe their Lord to be.

All can be addressed by God

Matthew 25:21
 [k]ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ• Εὖ, δοῦλε ἀγαθὲ καὶ πιστέ, ἐπὶ ὀλίγα ἦς πιστός, ἐπὶ πολλῶν σε καταστήσω• εἴσελθε εἰς τὴν χαρὰν τοῦ κυρίου σου.  
said to him his Lord well done slave good and faithful. You have been faithful with "a little" (5 trillion is small) enter into the joy of the lord. 

See Revelation 7 

We know very little apart from our infants. 

Matthew 25:22
 προσελθὼν [l]δὲ καὶ ὁ τὰ δύο [m]τάλαντα εἶπεν• Κύριε, δύο τάλαντά μοι παρέδωκας• ἴδε ἄλλα δύο τάλαντα [n]ἐκέρδησα.  
the one with two also  came. "Master!  You entrusted me with two ...see I Have  gained two more!" 

Notice a confession of the lord's grace and mercy. As you gave freely I returned see how awesome this is. 

These were slaves. And we too have been purchased. Not with gold or silver...

Matthew 25:23 
ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ• Εὖ, δοῦλε ἀγαθὲ καὶ πιστέ, ἐπὶ ὀλίγα ἦς πιστός, ἐπὶ πολλῶν σε καταστήσω• εἴσελθε εἰς τὴν χαρὰν τοῦ κυρίου σου. 
his master answered well done good and faithful slave. Over little you were faithful over much you shall stand. Welcome into your lord's happiness. 

The response to the two is verbatim.  Continued generosity of the Lord...the joy is the saints encircling the throne. 

Matthew 25:24
 προσελθὼν δὲ καὶ ὁ τὸ ἓν τάλαντον εἰληφὼς εἶπεν• Κύριε, ἔγνων σε ὅτι σκληρὸς εἶ ἄνθρωπος, θερίζων ὅπου οὐκ ἔσπειρας καὶ συνάγων ὅθεν οὐ διεσκόρπισας•  
knowing you are a harsh man harvesting where you have not sown 

Luther "you get the God you believe..." He hated the Lord's generosity so he hid the talent digging a hole for fear of what the Master would do. Didn't want to loose it.

Matthew 25:25
καὶ φοβηθεὶς ἀπελθὼν ἔκρυψα τὸ τάλαντόν σου ἐν τῇ γῇ• ἴδε ἔχεις τὸ σόν.  
Here it what belongs to you. 

He didn't want the gifts so he gave it back because he hated the Master.

Matthew 25:26
ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτῷ• Πονηρὲ δοῦλε καὶ ὀκνηρέ, ᾔδεις ὅτι θερίζω ὅπου οὐκ ἔσπειρα καὶ συνάγω ὅθεν οὐ διεσκόρπισα;  
"you evil, lazy servant. Did you really know I harvested where I did not sow...? 

Matthew 25:27
ἔδει [o]σε οὖν βαλεῖν [p]τὰ ἀργύριά μου τοῖς τραπεζίταις, καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐγὼ ἐκομισάμην ἂν τὸ ἐμὸν σὺν τόκῳ.   
you should have put my money on deposit so when I returned I should have received what is mine with interest."

Matthew 25:28 
 ἄρατε οὖν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ τὸ τάλαντον καὶ δότε τῷ ἔχοντι τὰ δέκα τάλαντα• 
therefore snatch the silver from him and give it to the one who had ten.

The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software

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