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The parable of the talents* is commonly understood to challenge us about how we are using the abilities God has given us. But consider another possible understanding: that Jesus is talking about the knowledge of God.

The Bible teaches that, because the visible creation displays the nature of God, none of us can say 'I didn't know'. Every human being is exposed to the knowledge of God from the moment of his birth.

Some people, because of the culture in which they grow up, are exposed to further knowledge of God from the teaching of their society, their parents, or from the Bible. Still others are taught about Jesus Christ, the One who claimed to be identical with God.

The Bible also teaches that the normal human response is to put aside, distort, dilute or deny whatever aspects of the truth we have. Could this perhaps be the meaning of the 'one talent' servant in this parable? Is Jesus here teaching: Build on the knowledge of God that you have - don't let it stagnate, don't put it aside, don't swap it for human ideologies or human opinion, don't hide it away in a box, don't be afraid of finding God's real absolute truth.

And could the message of the other two servants be: Maximize your knowledge of God, work on it, develop it, search out its meaning and its radical implications, with a bold daring dig deeper into the truth, until you find the truth that is the true truth about the one true God: absolute - for all people, in all places, at all times.

Among those who listened to Jesus were people who had some knowledge of God - they had access to both the knowledge of God in creation and the knowlege of God in the Old Testament scriptures, but they had perverted it, misunderstood it, and buried it so deeply under their own perceptions that they had lost it.

Such is the nature of true truth: as soon as we bury it, as soon as we distort it or corrupt it with some ideas of our own, it ceases to be true truth. It becomes at best powerless and useless error, at worst destructive heresy. But, when we embrace it and believe it, it opens up our understanding to deeper levels of truth; it redeems us from our ignorance of God and liberates us into the present and future eternity of a life-giving relationship with God.

So Jesus said: 'everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.'

'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'


Scriptures: Matthew 25:14-30; Romans 1:18-32; John 10:30; 14:6-9; John 5:31-47; 8:19; 8:32; 17:3; 1John 5:12; Jeremiah 29:13.

*'talent' = a currency unit worth US$1000+


Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004, 2010