Read Matthew 25
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
The Parable of the Bags of Gold
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Who doesn’t love a good story? One of the most effective and memorable ways Jesus taught was through parables. He wanted the listeners (then) and readers (now) to grasp unforgettable principles that would prepare them for this life and the one to come. He used ordinary things and experiences that could easily be understood by the common man, in this way he was a Master Teacher. In this chapter he uses parables with bridesmaids, servants, and a shepherd to deliver his timely message.
The setting for the first one is a wedding. Lots of preparations had to be made particularly for the bridesmaids. They were tasked with leading the bridal procession with lamps or torches to the wedding feast at the groom’s house. To fulfill their duties meant securing sufficient lamp oil in case the bridegroom tarried. Jesus tells of 10 ladies, 5 of whom were prepared, and 5 who were not. Jesus concludes this parable with these words, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (v. 13). Each of us is responsible for our own spiritual condition. We may not borrow or buy from someone else but must continually cultivate our own heart for the day when Christ returns.
The next parable tells of a master and his three servants who were given money to invest while the master was away. Each one is allotted and entrusted with a specific amount of gold: five, two, and one bag respectively. Two of the servants invest and double their amount, while the third fellow digs a hole and hides his portion. The posture of each servant’s heart and the respect they had for the master is on full display. The two who wisely invested were commended, while the lazy servant was condemned. Each of us have been given a certain amount of time, resources, and abilities to invest in building the kingdom. One day, just like the servants in the parable, we will stand before God and give an account. Will he find us faithful or full of excuses?
The final parable showcases a shepherd separating sheep from goats. D.A. Carson, a New Testament scholar, says, “In the countryside sheep and goats mingled during the day. At night they were often separated: sheep tolerate the cool air, but goats have to be herded together for warmth.” Note that the sheep were gathered to the right as righteous, and the goats to the left as cursed. Herein lies the real take-away for us. There will be a day of reckoning, and what we do on a daily basis matters for eternity, especially how we serve others in need. Jesus specifically addressed the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned. Let’s pay special attention to this warning today: The price of indifference to what matters to God is far too high a price to pay.
- How much thought or preparation do you give to Christ’s return?
- Are you leveraging what God has entrusted to you for the gospel and kingdom work?
- In what ways are you presently serving others? Share with your Life Group and choose a way to serve together.
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