(Continued from Part I)

3. Which raises the question of the one talent and the relation between that talent and the man's view that the Master was "an hard man". While it is speculation that the man's limited ability (witnessed by the fact that he only got 1 talent from the Master) is directly related to his harsh view of his Master, we have a word from the Savior's lips that hints that it is more than speculation to link the two :

...to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
Luke 7:47b

The one who sees the grace and mercy and depth of love in the sacrifice of Christ and cleansing offered by His blood will most certainly find himself responding with gratitude. In the healing of the 10 lepers of Luke 17, we find one and one only returning to give thanks to God for healing him. And a "stranger" at that. This man felt the depth of his affliction and was probably daily broken by the corruption and its hold on him. He must have wrestled with being such an utter outcast and found himself at the end of himself. No more could his own strength suffice. The descriptions of the Beatitudes would, it might be assumed, have fit this one perfectly. Not so the other 9. So when Jesus passed by and healed them all, we see a great depth of impact on the one. We see one who holds in his mind the great work it was to pass from death to life and the praise due one who could accomplish such a great thing. It certainly was not himself, and such a One who could bring it to pass must be far greater than he. This one who felt his sin and death so keenly must then have seen how unspeakably glorious his healing and resurrection was. Thus, the depth of the understanding of the riches of Christ can only be properly grasped by one so broken and destitute of self-righteousness and self-reliance that it is not a leap to assert that someone who does not so understand God in Christ will not be able to convey His glory. The threatenings of the Law are still his terror because he has not properly been rid of self-righteousness. Therein is the source of his fear, his lack of ability, and his resultant lack of understanding and grace - his receipt of few talents. He does not understand God's grace because he has not perceived much need of it (though he may not admit it).

But notice - and this is almost astonishing - that the Master does not disabuse him of his being "an hard man". The Master does not deny being shrewd and even harsh at times. This low-functioning servant has focused on one or two attributes of his Master. Why? Because that, it would seem, is all he sees. And while it is important not to permit legalism to grip the churches, it seems that there may be - in this parable - an encouragement not to be too aggressive with it. Not because legalism is good, but because the legalist - if allowed and pushed to take his legalism to its logical extent - will be forced to choose between his own righteousness and God's. And if God's, then he can no longer hold to his legalism. And that is where the push for consistency is critical.

God has given man many centuries to prove his own inability to be righteous in himself and be justified by keeping God's Law. He was in no hurry to go from the Law to Grace in Christ Jesus. It is in part because that is what it took to make the whole world guilty before Him (Romans 3:19). And if there are those that still persist in holding to a righteousness of the Law (in any sense), then they need to be brought to the conclusion of that so that their "mouths are stopped". So God does not always simply say "You're wrong". Rather, He does say "You're inconsistent". And this is what is being said here. The Master says that if the servant really believed that he was a harsh taskmaster and wanted to do all he could to placate Him, then he would have at least gotten basic interest instead of burying the Master's goods in the ground. His ability may not have extended to bartering for more, but he could have given it to someone who might use it well so that when the Master came back to HIM for that talent, it would have at least increased some. Instead, he did NOTHING with it. There was no thought of serving the Master - only doing the least damage so as to minimize the anger of this "hard man".