The Life of Christ
In our last two lessons, we examined Matthew 24 and its parallel accounts. I showed how the first 34 verses were dealing with the destruction of Jerusalem and how the remainder of the verses were talking about the end of time here on earth. As we will see, Jesus will continue to focus on the end of time and how we should remain ready for that day as we enter into Mathew 25.
Mathew 25 contains two parables about the end of time and ends with a vivid description of the end of time. The first parable is called the 10 virgins.
Matthew 25:1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. †2 "Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. †3 "Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, †4 "but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. †5 "But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. †6 "And at midnight a cry was heard:`Behold, the bridegroom is coming1; go out to meet him!' †7 "Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. †8 "And the foolish said to the wise,`Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' †9 "But the wise answered, saying,`No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' †10 "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. †11 "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying,`Lord, Lord, open to us!' †12 "But he answered and said,`Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' †13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour1 in which the Son of Man is coming.
Jesus is doing His best to teach His disciples to be prepared at all times for the Lordís return. Our parable is based on the Palestine custom of the day. It was customary for the friends of the bride to keep her company until bridegroom came to get her. When he came, they would light their lamps and accompany them to his house. In our parable, we notice that there were 10 virgins, 5 of them were wise and 5 of them unwise. These represent Christians who are waiting for Jesusí return.
Verse 5 tells us that there was a delay of the bridegroomís return, and they fell asleep waiting on him. They had no idea when he would come, but at least 5 of these ladies were prepared. Some have suggested that their sleep represents death. We see that the bridegroom shows up at an unexpected time at midnight. Even though the virgins knew that he was coming, it took them by surprise.
Since Jesus speaks of this delay, it tells me that He was hinting at the idea that His return would not be quick as some thought. In fact, there were those that we read about in the Bible who questioned the fact the Jesus had not already returned as can be seen in:
2 Pet. 3:4 "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."
These foolish virgins tried to borrow oil from the wise virgins, but they would not give it to them. This does not mean that these 5 wise virgins were mean or selfish, they didnít want to make themselves unprepared by getting involved in these other 5 ladies foolishness.
Unlike these 5 wise virgins who could have shared their oil, on the judgment day, we will not be able to help anyone out because when it comes, we have to bear our own burden and give an account for what we have done. No one can make us prepared by their works or obedience.
Gal. 6:5 †For each one shall bear his own load.
Rom. 14:12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. See also 2 Cor. 5:10
While these foolish virgins went out in the middle of the night trying to find some more oil, the bridegroom comes. The 5 prepared virgins go in with him to the wedding and then the door is shut and sealed forever. Since the 5 wise virgins were prepared and faithful, they entered into the feast. In a similar way, those of us who are faithful will also look forward to Jesusí return, and we will get to enter into heaven.
Then in verses 10 and 11, we find these unprepared virgins make their way to the door of the master and they cry and beg and plead to be let in, but they are refused. The same will happen to all unprepared people on the Day of Judgment. They will not be allowed to enter in to heaven.
As Luke wrote:
Lk. 13:24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. †25 "When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying,`Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you,`I do not know you, where you are from,'
The whole point of the parable is found verse 13.
13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
This is same message is repeated several times through the Bible. 1Thes. 5:1-6, 2 Peter 3:10-12 Rev. 3:2-3.
Now I ask you, Are you looking forward to Jesusí return, and are you prepared like the wise virgins? If Jesus was to come right now, would you be ready? If you are not prepared, you will hear those same words in this parable on that day, †Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.† So, letís always strive to be faithful to God, spend time in prayer and spend time in studying God Word so we wonít be found unprepared.
Our next parable, is the parable of the talents and it has to do with stewardship. A steward is a person who is to manage what he has been put in charge of. In the 1st century, slavery was prevalent, and the owner of the house would make one of his slaves the steward of his household.
The steward was supposed to take care of the household for his master. All Christians are stewards of God, and we should take care of what God has left in our hands. For example we read in:
1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. †2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
1 Pet. 4:10 †As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Our parable, is very similar in mean to the parable of the pounds in Luke 19:11-27, which we examined earlier in our series. So, letís go ahead and read the entire parable.
Matt. 25:14 †"For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. †15 "And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. †16 "Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. †17 "And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. †18 "But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money. †19 "After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. †20 "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying,`Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' †21 "His lord said to him,`Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' †22 "He also who had received two talents came and said,`Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' †23 "His lord said to him,`Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' †24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said,`Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. †25 `And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.' †26 "But his lord answered and said to him,`You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. †27 `So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. †28 `Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. †29 `For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. †30 `And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
A talent was a weight of measurement which generally represented about 60 to 80 pounds. So, even one talent was considerable amount of money. However we donít know the worth of these talents in this parable because it does not tells us what it was a talent of.
Now, the man traveling into a far country represents Christ, and the far country represents heaven. We know that Jesus was taken up into heaven in according to Acts 1:9-11, and Christians are supposed to look forward to that new country in heaven according to Heb. 11:16. †Jesus has assured us that we will one day be with him in heaven as we read in:
John 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. †2 "In My Father's house are many mansions1; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you2. †3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
The servants represents the disciples of Christ, which includes you and I. He has entrusted us with His Word and His church. We all have different talents and the ability to spread His Word and grow His church. Some may have 10 talents, while others may only have one. Jesus is stressing that you and I put forth our best for God and do what we can with what talent we have.
At the judgment day, the amount of your talents is not going to matter. What will matter is your faithfulness in the talents that you did have. Some Christians will be like the first 2 servants, and they will immediately go and try make the best use of their talents and take advantage of every opportunity to do good Gal. 6:10. When we obey Godís commands and we go about doing good and sowing the seed, we do so because we love and respect our God.
Jesus is teaching you and I that we need to use our talents for the growth of the kingdom. Letís look at 3 ways that can do this.
1. We must be willing to give our time.
In our fast pace society we use up all of our time going from one thing to another, and we simply run out of time to work for the Lord or spend time with Him. We see an example of this in the 1st century as well in:
Lk. 9:59 Then He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." †60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God." †61 And another also said, "Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house." †62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
As Christians, we get our priorities out of whack sometimes, but we need to make it our priority to make time for the Lord and His way. Paul tells us that we must redeem the time because the days are evil Eph. 5:16. In fact, itís interesting that those who are willing to sacrifice time for the Lord will usually do it with an amazing amount of energy. I like how Isaiah puts it:
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. †
2. We must give of our talent.
Again, we all have a talent, whether it be one or 100, and we need to use our talents. God has blessed us with differing abilities and all of them are important for the church to function properly as we read in:
1 Cor. 12:14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. †15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? †16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? †17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? †18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
So, letís never be lazy when it comes to using our talents for the Lord and His kingdom because we are going to have to give an account for what did and did not do in Godís kingdom. †
3. We must give of our lives.
The first two servants did this very thing, and we as Christians need to surrender our lives over to God as well. As Paul said:
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. †2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Sometimes we struggle with this idea of giving all of ourselves over to Christ but that is what we need to learn to do. We can know that when we do this that we will be pleasing to God, and we will hear on the Day of Judgment, Well done, good and faithful servant.
Unfortunately there are some Christians who are going to be like the 3rd servant. Now they will not really do any harm with their talents, but they will not do any good with their talents either. This kind of Christians is one who is not willing to do much for Lord, instead they are just hoping they will be pleasing to God for hanging on to their one talent, but James tells us that if you know to do good and you donít do it itís a sin James 4:17. Not only is it a sin not to do good, we see that there are dire consequence for being lazy in your Christianity.
Some on the judgment day will probably try and blame God for being such a killjoy to what they consider as living life to its fullest. Maybe some will try and claim that they were faithful when they were not like Jesus points out in:
Matt. 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me,`Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.† 22 "Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'† 23 "And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
There is no hope for those who follow the example of this 3rd servant because it says he will be cast out into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. We all should know that this represents hell.
So, the overall message of this parable shows that God expects you use what He has blessed you with. Again, it does not matter if you have a little or a lot, what God is looking for is that you are being active in His kingdom. So, donít be a lazy Christian.
In the remainder of the chapter, Jesus paints a vivid picture of what will happen at the end of time.
Matt. 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.† 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.† 33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
It would be hard to misunderstand what Jesus is saying here. It is talking about when He comes back with His angels as we have already seen earlier in the parable of the tares and wheat. He will sit on the throne of glory ready to judge as Acts 17:31 says.
All nations will be gathered before Him. None will be left out. They will separated as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep are those who have made Jesus their shepherd, and the goats are those who belong to the world. Next, we read:
Matt. 25: 34 "Then the King will say to those on His right hand,`Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:† 35 `for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;† 36 `I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'† 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying,`Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?† 38 `When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?† 39 `Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'† 40 "And the King will answer and say to them,`Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
Of course, the King is Jesus and He tells those on the right, which are the sheep, that they are blessed, and they will inherit the kingdom that God had prepared from the foundation of the world. They are a bit confused on how they did any of these things for Jesus that He mentioned, but He explains and tells them that when they fed those who belonged to Him or did any of these other kind acts, it was just like doing it for Him. †
This should serve as powerful message to all of us. Many times we look at Godís people for who they are on the surface, but we need to realize that how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ is how we are treating Jesus. That shows how connected we are to our Savior. When we view each brother and sister in Christ as being directly linked to Jesus, it should change our perspective because who wouldnít give their best for Jesus. Notice what Jesus says next:
Matt. 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand,`Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: †42 `for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; †43 `I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' †44 "Then they also will answer Him1, saying,`Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' †45 "Then He will answer them, saying,`Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
Now He is talking to the goats. They are cursed, and they will cast into the everlasting fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels because they did not live the Christian life nor did they do any of the Christian works that Jesus mentioned. They too were a bit confused and wanted to know when they ever saw Jesus needing help, and He gives the same answer as before. When they neglected to help His people, they neglected Him.
Again, this tells us that when people neglect us or persecute us, it as if they are doing these things to Jesus Himself, and they will pay for their consequences. So, if you think you have no value as Christian, I hope this teaches you that you do. I also hope this teaches us the importance of treating our brethren as we would treat Jesus. Finally, Jesus says:
Matt. 25:46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
So, when Jesus comes back, all will be gathered before Him. Those on His right, will get to spend eternity in heaven, but those on His left will spend eternity in everlasting punishment in hell.
So, the question becomes, What will your choice be? Will you live your life in such a way that you will be prepared for the Lordís return so heaven will be your home or will you choose to live like the world and end up in hell with devil and His angels? I hope you will choose the Lord.†