25 March 2014

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 25

I love how much we’ve been talking about Jesus’ second coming lately. While other believers and I can be excited about this coming event, unbelievers have reason to fear it. But you don’t have to fear this day. You can know for certain that you will go to heaven when Jesus returns to take His people home with Him.

In this chapter of Matthew, Jesus presents three parables that help us get ready for His return to earth. In the first parable. ten virgins are waiting for a bridegroom. This was a common tradition for this culture. All of the virgins take their lamps, wait a long time for the bridegroom, fall asleep, hear the cry, wake up, trim their lamps and meet the bridegroom.

But there is one major difference. The foolish virgins did not take oil for their lamps while the wise virgins were ready with their oil. The foolish virgins ask the wise ones for their oil. The wise ones refuse. Then the foolish virgins leave to buy oil and miss the opportunity to go to the banquet. When they knock on the closed door, the bridegroom says he does not know them. Since the wise virgins are ready with their oil, they go to the wedding banquet with the bridegroom.

The bridegroom is Jesus. The wise virgins represent believers. The foolish virgins represent unbelievers, people who profess by mouth they are Christians but never accept Jesus into their hearts. And the oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit.

Each of us must have a personal relationship with Jesus if we hope to go to the wedding feast in heaven. You cannot borrow someone else’s faith or indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The wise virgins could not give oil to the foolish virgins. God is the only one who can give the Holy Spirit to us. You cannot get into heaven just because you attend church, read the Bible or grow up in a Christian home. You must hear and respond to the Word of God by believing God’s Word and receiving Jesus as your Savior.

The next parable is about a master who entrusts talents to three servants – five talents to the first servant, two talents to the second servant and one talent to the third servant. A talent was a sum of money equal to about 20 years’ salary. The talents belong to the master not the servants. But the master gives them the responsibility to care for his talents.

The servant with five talents works to increase them to ten talents. The master praises the servant and rewards him with greater responsibilities. The servant with two talents works to increase them to four talents. The master praises the servant and rewards him with greater responsibilities. These two servants receive different talents, but both were faithful and both were rewarded the same way.

The servant with one talent is afraid and buries the talent. The master rebukes the servant, takes away the one talent and gives it to the first servant. The third servant is cast out into the darkness.

God holds me responsible for gaining wisdom throughout my life, for sharing the truth of His Word, for making disciples, for following Christ’s example, for taking care of God’s people and much more. God has entrusted me with many “talents,” such as His Word, experiences in the Christian life, time and spiritual gifts. Am I using these “talents” God has given me, or do I bury and hide them?

It’s not about how much God has given us but about how well we use what God has given us (“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” I Peter 4:10).

The final parable speaks about the judgment day. On this day, Jesus will separate all people like a shepherd separates sheep and goats. The sheep will be on the right, and the goats will be on the left.

God will commend the sheep and will accept them into His eternal kingdom because they cared for God by caring for the least of His brothers (Christians). God will curse the goats and throw them into eternal punishment because they did not care for God by not caring for the least of His brothers (Christians).

This is not how we earn our way to heaven. This is how we demonstrate our love for and faith in God. Heaven is prepared for those who trust in Christ. Hell is prepared for the devil, his angels and those who have not put their trust in Christ.

Things to Think About
  • Am I willing to share the truth of eternity with others?
  • Am I ready for Jesus like the five wise virgins were ready for the bridegroom?
  • Who in my life is not ready for Christ’s return? Will I pray and ask God to use me to help them prepare for that day?
  • What kind of a steward am I with God’s resources?
  • Am I being faithful with what God has given me? Will I ask God to help me invest His talents wisely as I wait for His return?
  • On the judgment day, will I be on the right or the left? There is no middle ground.