Matthew 25 - Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (Part 2)
a. The parable of the ten virgins.
1. (1) Ten virgins go out to meet a bridegroom at a wedding.
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom."
a. Then the kingdom of heaven: Matthew 24 ended with a parable meant to emphasize the idea of readiness for our master’s return. Matthew 25 begins with another parable emphasizing the same principle.
b. To ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom: There were three stages to a Jewish wedding in that day. The first was engagement - a formal agreement made by the fathers. The second was betrothal - the ceremony where mutual promises are made. The third was marriage - approximately one year later when the bridegroom came at an unexpected time for his bride.
c. Went to meet the bridegroom: In this parable, the first two stages have already taken place. Now the wedding party (the ten virgins) await the coming of the bridegroom for his bride.
i. Why does Jesus describe ten virgins? Talmudic authorities affirm that there were usually ten lamps in a bridal procession.
2. (2-13) The young women caught unprepared are denied entry.
"Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 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.’ 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. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."
a. Took their lamps: The five foolish virgins appeared to be prepared for the bridegroom, because they had their lamps. But they really were not prepared, because they took no oil with them.
b. Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out: Throughout the Scriptures, oil is a consistent emblem of the Holy Spirit. Without oil, the virgins were not ready for the bridegroom.
Without the Holy Spirit, the no one is ready for the return of Jesus.
i. No one can be a true Christian without the indwelling Holy Spirit - now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His (Romans 8:9). These virgins had the appearance of readiness, but they lacked the critical ingredient.
ii. How can we be sure of our own readiness as we ask for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), and walk in the Spirit.
c. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming: The point of this parable is simple - be ready. We see that if we are not ready, no one else can help us. No one else can "give" us their "oil."
b. The parable of the talents.
1. (14-15) A man gives instructions to his servants before departing on a long journey.
"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. 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."
a. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one: A talent is not an ability (though this parable has application to our abilities), but a unit of money, worth at least $1,200 in modern terms.
i. In the application of this parable, it is valid to see these talents as resources in our lives - such as time, money, abilities, and authority.
b. To each according to his own ability: The servants were given different amounts of money according to their ability. One of the servants only received one talent, yet we should see that this was not an insignificant amount. Some received more, but everyone received something, and that something was not insignificant.
2. (16-23) The first two servants are judged.
"Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 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.’ 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.’ 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.’ 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.’"
a. You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: The reward was the same for both servants, even though one was given five talents and the other was given two talents. Each performed the same according to the resources they received.
b. Well done, good and faithful servant: What did the master look for? Goodness and faithfulness in His servants. Whatever financial success these servants enjoyed came because they were good and faithful. The master looked first for these things, not the "bottom line."
3. (24-30) The third servant is judged.
"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. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ 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. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 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. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’"
a. I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown: The servant who merely buried his talent tried to excuse himself because of his master’s great power. In fact, he believes his master to be sort of omnipotent: reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
b. You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown: However, the sovereignty of the master never excused the laziness of the servant. It condemned that laziness all the more.
i. Those who don’t work for the Lord, or pray, or evangelize because "God is sovereign" condemn themselves by their laziness. By their actions (or lack of action), they show that they, like the wicked servant in the parable, do not know their Master’s heart at all.
ii. The charge against this servant who merely buried his talent is that he was wicked and lazy. We rarely see laziness as a real sin, something that must be repented of before the Lord.
c. Cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: Because he was wicked and lazy, the third servant demonstrated that he was not a true servant of his master at all. It is fitting that he (and those who show the same heart) are cast forever out of the master’s presence.
d. The main point of this parable is clear: our readiness for Jesus’ return is determined by our stewardship of the resources that He has given us.
i. Some think that "readiness" for Jesus’ return is a rather mystical thing. It really isn’t - it is a matter of being about our business for the Lord. In light of this parable, we must ask ourselves: what have we done with our knowledge? Our time? Our money? Our abilities? The sins of omission may ultimately be more dangerous than the sins of commission.
c. The judgment of the nations.
1. (31-46) The nations are gathered before God’s throne and judged.
"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. 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. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 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: 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; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 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.’ 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: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 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.’ Then they also will answer Him, 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?’ 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.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
a. In this parable, the nations are judged on the basis of their treatment of the least of these My brethren. Are the brethren mentioned here Jesus’ fellow Jews, or are they Christians? Perhaps Jesus has both in view.
b. Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? Both those who are found guilty (the goats, on the left hand) and those who are declared innocent (the sheep, on the right hand) are surprised, wondering when they helped or neglected Jesus.
i. The answer is simple: they helped or neglected Jesus when they helped or neglected the least of His brethren.
ii. Because the righteous were not aware that they were helping Jesus when they helped the least of His brethren, it shows that their motives were pure. It was a simple response of love from the heart.
iii. Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me: The charge against these lost ones does not concern any flagrant violation of a moral code, but their indifferent attitude toward Jesus (and His people). Their indifference seals their doom. Throughout this chapter, the point has been emphasized: the price of indifference is too high to pay.
- We cannot afford to be indifferent towards Jesus and His return.
- We can’t afford to be indifferent towards the Holy Spirit who makes us ready for the return of Jesus.
- We can’t afford to be indifferent towards the resources that God gives us.
- We can’t afford to be indifferent towards the needy people all around us.
- We can’t afford to be indifferent towards lost humanity that will stand in judgment.
c. Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: Jesus clearly points out that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. Men only go there because they have willingly cast their lot with the devil and his angels.
d. Everlasting punishment . . . eternal life: Everlasting and eternal both translate the exact same ancient Greek word. If the righteous experience life forever, then we must say that the guilty experience punishment forever.
e. This is only one of several descriptions in the Bible of future judgment.
i. Revelation 20:11-15 describe the great white throne judgment, where individuals are judged to see if their names are included in the Book of Life.
ii. Romans 14:10 describes the judgment seat of Christ, where Christians are judged according to their faithfulness.
iii. The judgment of the nations described in this chapter seems to be distinct. It probably describes the judgment of the nations preceding the millennial kingdom, to determine national roles in the millennium.
©2000 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission.