Suppose you were one of the three servants in the parable of the talents. You have been given either £5m, £2m or £1m. You have to use the money to serve God’s kingdom in some way. What would you do with it?
Those are the sort of sums the master gave his servants, if we convert to modern-day money. They are large sums of money! We can’t imagine having such resources, although perhaps they are not as out-of-reach as we might think!
During September and October Rosebery Park taught on the parable of the talents and invited members and regular attenders to take part in a re-enactment of the parable. Challenging!
We are not doing it in quite the same as the parable Jesus told, but there are similarities:
- In the parable the master gives directly but here the church is giving funds.
- The church is not giving to individuals but to small groups.
- The church is not giving millions of pounds; it is giving up to £500 to each group.
- In the parable the master did not expect the servants to say in advance what they would do with the money. But here the church is asking groups to indicate what they will do.
- Finally, in the parable, the servants didn’t know when the master would return. But we are setting a time limit of four months.
So, it isn’t a perfect re-enactment, but it’s similar.
Simon, the minister, taught on the parable on 13/10. We had two meetings, on 19/10 and 2/11 from 2-5 p.m. for groups to brainstorm and think what they might do over the coming four months. Fourteen or fifteen of us got together, split into three groups, approached the task with enthusiasm, and made plans… We are now implementing the plans we made. One group has got a prayer chain going. Another group has organized the Marty Breeze event you can see elsewhere on this site. A number of other initiatives are in the works…
Why are we doing this? There are many reasons.
- Jesus places great emphasis on his disciples bearing fruit. You can find some references below. We need to make the effort!
- Jesus often taught by getting his disciples to do something. Think of the feeding of the 5000.
- We think that by entering into the parable we may understand the parable better. The parable is really surprising! A modern-day businessman wouldn’t simply dish out money to his employees. His accountant would have a heart attack!
- We have some money in the bank ?. In the parable, the master asked the third servant why he didn’t put the money into the bank. So, putting money into the bank is acceptable to the master. But the fact that he gave it to the servants strongly suggests that the master thought it could be used more profitably.
- We’re a new team: we have a new minister and two new placement students. We hope this activity will help us to learn to work together, encouraging each other, praying for each other and combining our skills effectively. We hope we’ll grow in confidence and overcome fears that our efforts will be a failure.
- Finally, in the parable, after the master does his accounts with his servants and finds that they have used resources well, he resources them further. As a church we want God to resource us more! A first step is to be faithful with what we have.
In four months’ time we will see if, like the servants in the original parable, our efforts have produced a result!
References to bearing fruit
John the Baptist / Matthew 3:8-10
8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’, for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
The parable of the sower / Matthew23
23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Jesus curses a fig tree / Matthew 21
18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
The parable of the tenants / Matthew 23
33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence round it and dug a wine press in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants …
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.
The parable of the barren fig tree / Luke 13
6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vine dresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig round it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
John 15, the parable of the vine
v.2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
v.4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
v.5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
v.8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
v.16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
The poor widow / Mark 12, although this isn’t specifically about bearing fruit
43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.”