What would you say to your loved ones if you knew you only had a short time left? Matthew 25 tells us what Jesus told His disciples: the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, the Parable of the Talents, and the coming of the Son of Man in judgment. This sermon demonstrates both what Jesus was saying and how His words speak to us today.
If you knew you had a very short time to live, what would you tell those closest to you? In chapter 26, Jesus faces the end of His life on earth. In the previous chapter, Jesus delivers his final instructions for when He will be gone.
He reminds assures them that He will come again. Then He shares about preparing to meet Him when He returns, a time of accountability for what we’ve been doing.
The Wise and Foolish Virgins
Judgment of the Nations
Matthew 25:1-13 “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 coming; 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 hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
The wise ones had oil, symbolic of Holy Spirit. Ten went out with lamps, but only 5 had oil. At this point, everyone looked the same.
When all were sleeping, a normal activity, the Bridegroom returned unexpectedly at midnight when they would need their lamps and the oil. The 10 wise ones remind the foolish of the only way to get oil–go out and buy it for yourself. But then the Bridegroom came. When foolish ones returned, they tried to get in the house. But Bridegroom said, “I don’t know you.”
This says a lot! The final distinction between the true believers and those who only look like believers will come at the end–either a person’s death or the second coming of Christ. The story also tells us that Jesus’ second coming was going to be longer than people expected. Also, it may seem unkind not to share their oil. But the lesson is simple: You can’t borrow salvation from anyone else.
And finally, there is a time when it is going to be too late.
Matthew 25:14-30 “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. 28Therefore 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.’”
First, a talent is no small change–equivalent today to about $1.25 million. So even the least “talented” among us have a million-dollar gift. And it’s not what we have or don’t have–it’s what we do with what we have. We have what we have for a reason. And that primary reason is to build His kingdom.
If you’re not sure of your gifts, ask, “Lord, how can I serve You and others with what You’ve given me?” The gifts are given to be used! And the reality is that there is a future life that we are preparing for now!
This man in the story said “I was afraid” (v. 25) What are some of the reasons we don’t use our gifts to serve Lord?
The lord of servants told him he was “wicked and slothful.” Notice that the wicked servant didn’t use his gifts sinfully. He just didn’t use them to bless his master, which was their intended purpose.
Matthew 25:31-46 “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. 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.’ 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 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?’ 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.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
What happens to God’s people happens to Him, so to speak. He identifies so closely with His people that when we bless other believers, we are blessing Him!
Read Acts 9:4 and Galatians 6:10 to see the close relationship.
How we treat other Christians is more important than we think. Current trend toward bashing the church is not something the Lord looks kindly on. It’s not cool to bash other believers; it’s playing into the enemy’s hands.
Again, at the end, there is final separation between those who believe, and serve Him, and those who didn’t.
A few questions:
Are you walking with Jesus? Not, did you meet Him once? Or you prayed the sinner’s prayer… Are you living in His presence every day, living for Him? DO YOU KNOW HIM? At some point, that will become the ONLY QUESTION that matters–either at our deaths, or at His coming.
One of the characteristics of those who do know Him is that they see that their gifts have been given to them for a reason–to serve Him and others. Another is that they will make it to the end. Our salvation brings with it the ability to persevere to the end.
Faced with His upcoming arrest, trial and death, this is what Jesus chose to say to His closest disciples:
I’m coming, but it will be later than you think. When I come, let me find you using your gifts. And be sacrificially loving to your Christian brothers and sisters, because how you treat them is how you treat Me–literally. And the greatest question of all, the only one that will matter, is Do You Know Me?