5 The man in the illustration possessed eight talents, a huge fortune in those days.* Before traveling abroad, he distributed the talents among his slaves, expecting them to do business while he was gone. Like that man, Jesus possessed something of great value before he ascended to heaven. What was that? The answer has to do with his life’s work.
6, 7. What do the talents symbolize?
6 Jesus attached great importance to his preaching and teaching work. (Read Luke 4:43.) By means of it, he cultivated a field that had rich potential. Earlier, he told his disciples: “Lift up your eyes and view the fields, that they are white for harvesting.” (John 4:35-38) He had in mind the ingathering of many other honesthearted ones who would become his disciples. Like a good farmer, Jesus would not leave unattended a field that was ripe for harvesting. Hence, shortly after his resurrection and before his ascension to heaven, he gave his disciples the weighty commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples.” (Matt. 28:18-20) Jesus thus entrusted them with a precious treasure, the Christian ministry.—2 Cor. 4:7.
7 What, then, may we conclude? When giving his followers the commission to make disciples, Jesus was, in effect, committing to them “his belongings”—his talents. (Matt. 25:14) Put simply, the talents refer to the responsibility to preach and make disciples.
8. Even though each slave received a different number of talents, what did the master expect?
8 The parable of the talents reveals that the master gave to one slave five talents, to another two, and to still another just one. (Matt. 25:15) Although each slave received a different number, the master expected all of them to be diligent in using the talents, that is, in serving to the best of their ability in the ministry. (Matt. 22:37; Col. 3:23)