Amongst the “hard sayings of Jesus” this is perhaps one that we struggle with the most. The words are found in Mark 4:25
25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
But they also reflect the ending of the parable of the talents where the wicked servant’s one talent is taken and given to the one who had five and turned them into ten. It’s seen as harsh and unequitable. It sounds more like Thatcherism, the rich allowed to get richer as the poor get poorer than something Jesus would say.
However, I think that the context here of the parable of the sower and soils as well as the link to the parable of the talents help us to understand what is going on. I’m also reminded of something wise that my wife said in conversations about youth work. There would be conversations about what we should do with the young people at church. There were worries that if we insisted on focusing on bible teaching with them or if we challenged them about issues then they might stop coming. Sarah’s response was simple
“But if they aren’t meeting Jesus. If they aren’t being taught God’s Word and if they aren’t being changed by it then what exactly is the point of them coming.”
In the context of a youth group, it is tempting to think that you are achieving stuff and succeeding because of the numbers of young people who turn up. However, what have you really achieved if they are just going to walk away as soon as they are able to anyway? The same applies to pastors and evangelists. There’s no point counting the numbers of people attending or even professions of faith and membership if those people aren’t really with Christ. You may think you have a church of 150 but on judgement day you’ll find out that you didn’t have any.
That’s the point of Jesus’ words. If we don’t really have what matters then we don’t really have what we think we have. If you hold some seed in your hand and keep clutching it, then you may think “at least I’ve got some seed” but the whole purpose of the seed was to be planted to produce food for you. So you don’t really have anything that you need at all. The man thought he’d held onto his money (talent) but the sole reason it was entrusted to him was so he would invest it.
In our own lives, we can hold tightly onto things, possessions, relationships, habits etc and we can think that “at least I still have this.” Our lives become like the thorny and rocky soil. Yet if we hold onto those things and don’t allow Christ to work then we discover that they cannot give lasting joy, peace, satisfaction, security, hope. We have nothing. Even what we thought we had is taken from us.