Dioc Logo

The Returning Master

Bures 19.11.2017

Matt 25:14-30

It must now be 50 years ago. As a teenager at school I was in class enjoying a French lesson. The time was just after 11.00. Our French master was a lazy man. He would set us some work; then leave at 5 past 11. At 5 to 12 he would return, assuming we’d completed the work he’d set us. So we always knew we had 50 minutes without him in the room. We knew where he’d gone – into the Masters’ Common Room to watch the Test Match on the telly.

He must have had great faith in our desire to study (totally misplaced, of course); or maybe he just didn’t care. Anyway, as soon as he left the classroom, chaos reigned!  Some boys lit up cigarettes; others started staring at very questionable reading material. A group of us, including me, pushed back some of the desks to make room for a cricket pitch. Out came the bat and the tennis ball. The ball was wacked all around the classroom. Those smoking and reading hid behind their desk lids; while the fielders desperately tried to catch the ball.

One particular day it was my turn to bat and I hit a fine shot, which sailed over the bowler’s head. Unfortunately it smashed into the clock on the wall, breaking the glass and stopping the clock. As fast as we could we picked up the broken glass and hid it. It was 10 to 12. Quickly the desks were replaced; the dodgy reading material hidden; the fags stubbed out. Right on schedule, the master came back at 5 to 12. All was quiet. Thankfully he didn’t notice that the clock was a trifle slow. The only other clue to what had been going on was a smoke-ring which curled slowly upwards towards the ceiling.

What we got up to 50 years ago is a sad example of human nature at work. If you had been sitting in that classroom would you have been mugging up on your French vocabulary, or would you have joined in the chaos?

What has all this got to do with our reading today? Well, in this gospel passage we see another Master, Jesus, who says he is going away; but promises to return. Unlike the class I was in, his students are distraught about the prospect of his leaving. But he, too, gives instructions about what he expects of them while he is away.

In 3 parables Matthew sets out these instructions in Chapter 25. First there is the parable of the 10 bridesmaids, 5 wise, 5 foolish. The wise ones had lamps full of oil, ready and waiting for the bridegroom’s return. The foolish ones hadn’t thought to fill their lamps. They had to rush off to get some oil but when they got back it was too late. They had missed the bridegroom. They were shut out. The oil refers to the Holy Spirit. The wise bridesmaids were full and ready. The foolish ones….

The 2nd parable is about a rich man who goes away leaving most of his wealth to his servants. This gives them great opportunities. What will they do with them?

The 3rd illustration talks of works of mercy. Whenever we feed the hungry, give the thirsty a drink, welcome a stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison; we may think we are doing those things for these unfortunate people; but in fact we find we are doing them for Jesus himself – what an inspiration for anyone involved in such caring work?

The first story of the bridesmaids refers to the flame burning inside us, in our own personal spiritual lives. The second story refers to the gifts we have been given for our active service for Christ, mainly within the church. The third illustration refers to compassionate work, mainly outside the church.

So this chapter is beautifully balanced. The 3 areas work perfectly together. Obeying what we see in this chapter won’t earn us our way into Heaven. It’s simply what is expected of his followers in this interim period, before our Master comes back.

Jesus was brilliant at using people, events or places familiar to his listeners in order to illustrate his teaching. The second parable, which we are particularly looking at this morning, is no exception; because this story rang a loud bell those around him.

25 years before, in AD 6, King Herod died. (He was the horrible Herod who ordered all the children in Bethlehem under the age of 2 to be killed.) His son, Archelaus, wanted to take over from him. To do this he had to go to Rome and make his case to the Roman Emperor. Before he left he gave the responsibility for the running of his castles and his treasury to his officials.  When he came back he asked them how they had done. Some had done well – they were promoted. Some had done OK – they were to continue in their jobs but were given less responsibility. However there was a third group who had appealed to Rome and asked that none of Herod’s sons should rule over them. When Archelaus got back all in this group were immediately put to death.

Jesus uses this piece of history to wonderful effect. His listeners would know all about Archelaus. They would remember how he went away leaving his officials in charge; and then came back.

This 2nd parable is called the “parable of the talents”. But what is a talent? It’s a huge amount of money. In today’s terms one talent is worth about half a million pounds.  We’d all like to be given that, wouldn’t we? Here we see a rich, successful man. He is going away, so he can do nothing with his assets. Therefore he hands out massive amounts of money to 3 servants. It’s up to them to make the most of these fortunes while he is away. He has been successful and he expects the same from them.

The first servant has been given 5 talents (£2,500,000), He goes to work immediately. He makes another £2,500,000. The second one has been given 2 talents (£1,000,000). He at once gets cracking. He makes another £1,000,000. They are keen. They are enthusiastic. They have learned from their master. They want to follow his example. They know they have been given these assets to achieve success. And, lo and behold, they do. They are thrilled. They are full of joy and so is he. “Well done, good and faithful servants”. He says warmly. “Because you have done so well I shall give you yet more money and responsibility”.

That’s what the Christian life should be like. Jesus has gone away. We are his servants. On top of our human gifts, time and possessions he has given us forgiveness, he has left us his teaching, he has left us his Holy Spirit. What “talents” we now have! What is to stop us, now, going out and using what we have to his glory?

In 1949 the Communists took over the running of China. During the previous 100 years missionaries had arrived from the West to preach and teach the gospel. They’d had great success and by 1949 it was estimated that there were approximately 1,000,000 Chinese Christians. When the communists came they threw out all the 140 Christian missions. Church buildings were destroyed. The missionaries despaired. A century of work, all for nothing; or so it seemed.

Not a word was heard of the Chinese church again until 1966. Eventually news trickled out. The church had not been wiped out – far from it. The numbers of Christians had in fact increased. And their faith, despite persecution, had deepened immeasurably. Their mentors had had to leave but the Chinese Christians had diligently pursued the work they’d been given. As the church buildings had been flattened the Christians met together in homes, obeying the words we heard in our first reading – “encouraging one another and building one another up”. Their talents were restricted but they were using, to the full, the ones they had. And now the Chinese church is the fastest growing church in the World, with nearly 100,000,000 Christians, and growing at 10% a year.

This is all very well but, unfortunately we must also look at the 3rd servant in this parable. What a sad case he was. He had been given half a million pounds. But he looked at his hard-driving master and he was scared. “I have all these assets but what if I lose them? I think I shall just go and bury them in the ground”. His master was furious. He was immediately sacked. His one talent was taken away from him and given to the servant who had 10.

My first boss at work was a tough man. He was only 34 when I joined. Already he was the top broker in the firm. He had a brilliant brain. I was terrified of him.  However, working for him, I knew 2 things. He was always right and he was always fair. But if he gave you something to do you did it! And to the very best of your abilities.

So we look at this third servant and we easily say, “What a stupid man”. But…. But then we think again, “In the Christian life am I like two those successful servants? Am I itching to get on with the work our Master has given me? Am I really using my gifts, human and spiritual? Or am I burying them in the ground?”

What are my gifts anyway? Here our British false modesty can get in the way. “No, no, old chap, I am just an ordinary bloke. I have no talent, no gifts”. And when we say that, the answer surely is: “Nonsense. You have a house. You have a car. You have time. You have money. If you are a Christian you have a wonderful message to tell. Get on with the job. Use what you have. Don’t just bury your talent in the ground”. Frighteningly, we know from the end of the  passage what the reward for that is – not very pleasant.

If I dare, can I go back to that class 50 years ago? Surprise, surprise, I failed my French O Level! Along with the rest of us I wasted my time while the master was away – in that interim period. My cricket might have improved but, even now, I cringe, I hang my head in shame. I threw away my opportunity.

How much better to be like those two servants in the parable who grabbed their opportunities with such enthusiasm. Leaving his wealth in other people’s hands must have been a tough thing for the rich man to do. What relief he must have felt when he came back. How pleased he must have been. No surprise then, that he exclaimed, “Well done, good and faithful servants”.

I wonder, when our Master comes back, when we see him, will he say the same to us?





Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  1. July 7, 2020

    I just want to mention I am just very new to blogging and site-building and honestly loved this blog. Probably I’m likely to bookmark your website . You amazingly come with superb posts. Thanks a lot for revealing your web-site.

  2. July 9, 2020

    I have been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or blog posts in this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this web site. Reading this information So i¡¦m glad to show that I have an incredibly good uncanny feeling I came upon exactly what I needed. I such a lot indubitably will make certain to don¡¦t forget this web site and give it a look a relentless basis.

  3. Aw, this was a truly great post. In idea I would love to put in composing such as this in addition? requiring time and actual effort to make a great article? but what can I claim? I hesitate alot and also by no means appear to obtain something done.

  4. I can’t say that I completely agree, but then again I’ve never really thought of it quite like that before. Thanks for giving me something to think about when I’m supposed to have an empty mind while trying to fall asleep tonight lol..

  5. July 10, 2020

    Hey! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

  6. Would certainly you be fascinated in trading links?

  7. I simply couldn’t depart your site prior to suggesting that I actually loved the usual info an individual supply for your visitors? Is gonna be back frequently to investigate cross-check new posts.

  8. Would certainly you be intrigued in trading links?

  9. July 14, 2020

    Your location is valueble for me. Thanks !?

  10. There are definitely a great deal of details like that to consider. That is a terrific indicate bring up. I supply the thoughts above as general ideas however clearly there are inquiries like the one you bring up where one of the most crucial point will certainly be working in truthful good faith. I don?t understand if ideal techniques have actually emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your task is plainly identified as a level playing field. Both children and women really feel the effect of simply a moment?s enjoyment, for the remainder of their lives.

  11. Can I just state what a relief to discover somebody who really recognizes what theyre discussing online. You most definitely understand exactly how to bring a problem to light and make it important. Even more individuals need to read this as well as comprehend this side of the story. I cant think youre not extra preferred since you certainly have the present.

  12. July 16, 2020

    Oh my benefits! a remarkable write-up guy. Thank you Nevertheless I am experiencing concern with ur rss. Don?t recognize why Not able to register for it. Exists anybody obtaining similar rss issue? Any person that knows kindly react. Thnkx

  13. An outstanding share, I just offered this onto an associate who was doing a little analysis on this. As well as he actually got me breakfast since I discovered it for him. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the reward! Yet yeah Thnkx for investing the moment to review this, I really feel highly about it as well as enjoy finding out more on this topic. Ideally, as you come to be expertise, would certainly you mind upgrading your blog site with even more information? It is very useful for me. Huge thumb up for this blog post!

  14. You made some decent factors there. I viewed the internet for the issue and also discovered most individuals will support with your site.

  15. July 19, 2020

    After study a few of the post on your site now, and also I truly like your method of blog writing. I bookmarked it to my book marking internet site list and will certainly be inspecting back quickly. Pls have a look at my web site as well as well as let me know what you think.

  16. July 21, 2020

    This actually addressed my trouble, thank you!

  17. July 21, 2020

    Hello! I just would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information you have right here on this post. I’ll be returning to your blog for more soon.

  18. July 21, 2020

    When I originally commented I clicked the -Inform me when new remarks are included- checkbox and currently each time a remark is included I obtain four e-mails with the exact same remark. Exists any way you can remove me from that service? Many thanks!

  19. July 23, 2020

    Good post. I find out something much more tough on various blogs day-to-day. It will certainly constantly be stimulating to check out content from other writers as well as practice a something from their shop. I?d like to make use of some with the material on my blog site whether you don?t mind. Natually I?ll give you a link on your web blog. Many thanks for sharing.

  20. July 23, 2020

    This is the ideal blog for any individual that intends to discover this subject. You understand a lot its virtually tough to say with you (not that I really would want?HaHa). You definitely placed a brand-new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great things, simply great!

  21. July 25, 2020

    It?s difficult to find educated people on this subject, but you seem like you understand what you?re talking about! Many thanks

  22. July 27, 2020

    This is the right blog site for any individual who intends to learn about this subject. You realize so much its practically tough to say with you (not that I actually would want?HaHa). You definitely put a brand-new spin on a subject thats been blogged about for several years. Great things, simply wonderful!

  23. July 28, 2020

    I found your blog website on google as well as check a few of your very early messages. Remain to keep up the great operate. I simply added up your RSS feed to my MSN News Visitor. Seeking ahead to finding out more from you in the future!?

  24. July 28, 2020

    I?d need to check with you right here. Which is not something I typically do! I take pleasure in checking out a message that will certainly make people believe. Additionally, thanks for allowing me to comment!

  25. July 30, 2020

    Can I just say what a relief to discover a person that really understands what theyre speaking about on the internet. You certainly understand how to bring a concern to light and make it essential. More individuals need to read this and recognize this side of the tale. I cant think youre not a lot more preferred since you most definitely have the present.

  26. July 30, 2020

    Love watching movies !

  27. July 30, 2020

    Would certainly you be interested in exchanging links?

  28. July 31, 2020

    I really love your site.. Great colors & theme. Did you develop this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my very own site and would love to know where you got this from or what the theme is called. Appreciate it!

  29. July 31, 2020

    Best view in the town !

  30. July 31, 2020

    Best view in the town !

  31. August 1, 2020

    When I initially commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be a way you are able to remove me from that service? Kudos!

  32. August 1, 2020

    A redhead getting it in front of another woman from Lacy

  33. August 4, 2020

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to send you an email. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

  34. August 4, 2020

    This really answered my issue, thank you!

  35. August 5, 2020

    Youre so awesome! I do not mean Ive read anything such as this before. So nice to discover somebody with some initial ideas on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. useful task for bringing something brand-new to the net!

  36. August 7, 2020

    This is the ideal blog for any person who wants to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to say with you (not that I in fact would want?HaHa). You most definitely placed a new spin on a subject thats been written about for several years. Great stuff, just wonderful!

  37. August 8, 2020

    When I originally commented I clicked the -Inform me when brand-new comments are included- checkbox and also now each time a comment is included I get 4 e-mails with the very same remark. Is there any way you can remove me from that solution? Many thanks!

  38. August 10, 2020

    Youre so awesome! I do not suppose Ive review anything like this prior to. So nice to discover somebody with some initial thoughts on this subject. realy thanks for starting this up. this website is something that is required online, someone with a little originality. valuable work for bringing something new to the internet!

Write a comment:

Your email address will not be published.

St. Mary's, Bures Top
Follow us: