Sharing Christ’s Love Worship Series: “Enter Into Joy”

Rev. Emily Wilmesherr

Decatur Presbyterian Church

November 19, 2023



Matthew 25: 14-30

Listen now to the reading from Matthew 25:14-30.

14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to
them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his
ability. Then he went away.

At once 16 the one who had received the five talents went off and traded with them and made
five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents.
18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid
his master’s money.

19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then
the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying,
‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master
said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things; I
will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me
two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good
and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things; I will put you in charge of
many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew
that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you did not
scatter, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is
yours.’ 26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap
where I did not sow and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my
money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with
interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.

29 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. 30 As for this worthless slave,
throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

My daughter, Evie, comes from a long line of stubborn women. When she is told that she cannot
do something she will work hard to show people that she can do it. Recently she has been
wanting to whistle. This past weekend she began to make some progress and occasionally you
could hear a faint whistle and see her jump in joy. She came home one day this week and said a
friend told her she wasn’t whistling just blowing out air. While at first her feelings were hurt, that
quickly turned into determination to show her friend she, in fact, did know how to whistle. And lo
and behold, she has made some great progress since then.

This concept of working hard to gain more knowledge and skills is very common among
children. However, I think that when we reach adulthood, it doesn’t seem to come as naturally.
We have had years of working hard and experiencing failure or heartbreak. We have spent
endless hours trying to perfect a skill only to realize we didn’t have what it takes. All of these
experiences have shaped us in less than positive ways. A sense of failure tries to creep in
preventing us from taking many or even any risks in our lives.

When we read this text, it is very easy to focus on the money exchanged. I’m sure many have
heard sermons preached on this text during stewardship season, “give to the church and God
will be happy and give you more.” The money that is being exchanged in this parable is a large
sum and shouldn’t be overlooked. One talent is equal to about 6,000 denarii. One denarius is a
common laborer’s daily wage so one talent would be roughly equivalent to 20 years wages for
the average worker. Many of us have also probably heard this text preach in the context of
talents, gifts, abilities that God has given to us. Use the gifts you have been given and do not
hide or bury them or there will be consequences. Use it or lose it. However I would like to look at
it from a different perspective. 

In his commentary on this text, John Buchanan notes:
“The point here is not really about doubling your money and accumulating wealth. It is
about living. It is about investing. It is about taking risks. . . The greatest risk of all, it
turns out, is not to risk anything, not to care deeply and profoundly enough about
anything to invest deeply, to give your heart away and in the process risk everything. The
greatest risk of all, it turns out, is to play it safe, to live cautiously and prudently.”
This parable is the third of its kind in a discourse that Jesus is giving to his disciples about the
end times. As he is nearing the end of life and making his journey towards the cross, there is a
sense of urgency to make sure the disciples know that continuing the work of Jesus will be
difficult. He deeply desires for them to continue the difficult and yet important work that he has
begun. It will be risky but the reward is great, they will enter into the joy of their master. They can
trust that he will be among them, even if he is not with them in the flesh.

New Testament professor Matt Skinner suggests that this is a parable about callings, the
“positions in which God has placed you to make a difference; opportunities to be influential.”
We see in the text that each person is giving a different “calling” while the master is away. As
soon as the master has divided his wealth among the men, he is off on his journey. They are not
told when he will return nor what exactly they are supposed to do with what they have been
given. Yet, all are eager to do something with what they have been given. The first two men
immediately take their money and trade with it while the third goes out at once to bury his talent.
The third slave was so caught up in what was going to happen when the master returned.
Whether he was afraid of the master or afraid of what would happen if he tried to spend the
money, he missed an opportunity. I don’t believe that the master was as much concerned with
how much he got back but that the men did something with what they were given while he was
away. Jesus knows his time on earth is nearing the end and he wants to make sure the disciples
know what they are called to.

The disciples call was not just to their own lives and well beings but to the world. The third slave
seemed to miss that what he chose to do or not do with the money would not just affect him.
Like this our faith is not just for us, however, in a world where fear permeates each moment.
When we fear embarrassment, judgment, ending of relationships, the fear of not being enough, fear of our time being consumed or taken up, it is understandable why we would want to focus
on our personal faith because it feels safe and secure.

Have you ever been so afraid of taking a risk that you missed an opportunity to act as a disciple
of Jesus? Living in a way that shows care and thoughtfulness about your future is not a terrible
thing, however, when we live in fear, play it safe, stop caring, don’t invest our time and
resources, choosing not to risk anything-Jesus says it’s like being banished into outer darkness.
Through this parable, Jesus is telling us that he doesn’t just want us to believe in him but to live
our lives that reflect who we believe Jesus to be. We have been entrusted with this great and
valuable responsibility of being a disciple of Jesus. We are being given another way to live that
offers abundant life not just for ourselves but for others.

It is very easy to lose hope in a world where hatred runs deep. We can be stuck wondering if
Jesus will ever return and if love will actually prevail. Our energy for working towards a different
way can be lacking. Evie started to feel a little hopeless when her friend told her she didn’t
actually know how to whistle, but instead of giving up, she got down to work to see what could
happen. She still has a way to go but she is determined to keep working on it and through that
work, she is discovering great joy. She delights in sharing how she is getting better each day
and loves to share this joy with others. We must be determined to invest in the work for which
we have been called. When we take the risk of living into the life we are called, joy will abound,
not just for us but for others too. We don’t know how things will turn out, but we can trust in the

One whom we follow and know we are never alone.
The first two men made the assumption that the master would be happy to know that they went
out and worked to increase what they had been given, but the third assumed that the master
was harsh and instead of taking the risk to see how the master would respond, he buried his
talent. Chose not to do anything with it and just wait to return the same amount back to his
master. I believe this might have been a dark assumption on the part of the third slave. If we
look at the master’s response to the first two men, they were given different amounts, brought
back different amount yet both receive the same reward which leads me to believe that he was
less interested in how much money he got back and more interested in the fact that his slaves
took on the work while he was away.

The PCUSA Book of Worship describes the church as “a community of faith, entrusting itself to
God alone, even at the risk of losing its life.” This community of faith is preparing for its
bicentennial in 2025. This church has spent almost 200 years serving God in Decatur. As we
look back on this church’s history, I’m sure we see some things that have not continued to this
day, but I wonder what threads we do see continue throughout the life of the church. I think a
common thread is that this church has always been and will always be a group of people who
care for others. You are a group of compassionate and generous people. If you are visiting
today, you are getting a chance to experience the love and welcome from these folks and we
hope that your experience causes you to share compassion and generosity in your own life.
This is the legacy that we have been entrusted with. How can you invest in this legacy of compassion and generosity? If we claim to entrust ourselves as the church to God alone, what might we have to risk in order to live as faithful disciples of Jesus at DPC and beyond? 

Friends, you are a compassionate and generous community. May you recognize this calling that
has been entrusted to you. May this way of living direct us so that we will one day enter into the
great joy of our Savior Jesus Christ. May it be so. Amen.