Matthew 24 – 25: Three Parables from Jesus

January 16, 2011 at 10:08 PM

I find it fascinating that at the end of Matthew 24 and into 25, we read of three parables; two dealing with the physical second coming and one highlighting the Rapture.  Oh I know there are many who disagree with that, especially if they do not believe in the Rapture at all.  In that case, they do not see anything except three individual parables that point to the physical second coming of Jesus at the end of human history when He will right all wrongs through a process of judgment.  This judgment will literally separate the sheep from the goats, sending the goats off to an eternity of torment and the sheep to an eternity of righteousness.

Parable of the Servants (Matthew 24:45-51)
Here we read of two different servants; one faithful and wise and the other servant, evil.  Jesus points out a significant difference between the two as the parable unfolds.

The faithful and wise servant is recognized because of what he does and we can see this in verses 45 – 47:  “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.  Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.”

It is important to notice a number of things going on here.  First of all, Jesus cannot possibly be referring to salvation by works as some think.  There is no way a servant who was not truly saved would be able to rule over the Master’s house in the Master’s absence with righteousness consistently in all situations.  It is only the truly saved individual, the authentic Christian that desires to serve the Lord by doing the things that bring honor to His Name.  This is what authentic Christians do now, during the time that Jesus is physically absent from this planet.  Through faith, we continue to serve Him, looking forward to the day when we will be brought physically into His presence.

Secondly, the faithful servant is considered by the Lord to be wise because he cares for all the other servants in his keep.  Though the Master of the household is not physically present to observe the actions of this servant, and the servant could use the opportunity to take advantage of those in his care, he does not do so.  His actions are such that they bring honor to the Lord even when the Lord is not physically present.

Notice that when the Master of the house returns, He finds this servant doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing.  He was busy working in the Master’s absence, caring for those he was put in charge of and ensuring that they had sustenance.  Ultimately, the “meat” that is mentioned in this text is a metaphor for spiritual meat.  The servant in charge of many people is mature enough spiritually to ensure that those under him, or in his care, are fed spiritually.  He does not provide them with gobbledygook, or with ideas and doctrines that merely tickle the ears.

This servant is faithful because he takes the time to study God’s Word and presents that truth to those in his care.  He wants to see these people grow in their faith, so that they will become spiritual mature and in turn, introduce others to Jesus and help them to become spiritually mature.  It is a never-ending cycle of growth that is precipitated by the proper spiritual concern and care.

When Jesus returns, He will find His people – authentic Christians – doing this very thing.  Again though, Jesus is not speaking of works that gain eternal salvation.  He is speaking of the result of a person having authentic salvation.  Authentic salvation prompts the individual to do what Jesus what do; the very things that bring about spiritual growth in others through proper teaching and guidance are the things that bring honor and glory to God.

People who are not truly saved cannot do these things.  While it may appear as though they are doing these things (on the outside), because they do not have the Holy Spirit within them, it is impossible for them to do these things from the heart.  Those who attempt to pretend to do these things, by imitating the things that they believe Christians would do, wind up growing weary of the charade and eventually fall into evil ways because they themselves have not had any spiritual transaction that Jesus speaks of in John chapter three.  Since they have not been born again, or born from above, it is impossible for their lives to exhibit true spiritual maturity.  At best, they can only arrive at a cheap imitation that they will eventually grow tired of wearing.

This is exactly why we are seeing a growing number of individuals who refer to themselves as “ex-Christians.”  These individuals point to all the things they did when they believed they were actual Christians.  But things do not make a Christian, no matter how altruistic those things appear to be.

When we stand before Jesus, the one thing He determines is whether or not He knew us in this life.  In other words, were we ever truly in relationship with Him?  If we were, then regardless of our failures that kept us from living perfectly, we are fully accepted into His Kingdom.  If we were never truly in relationship with Him in this life, then it does not matter what we managed to accomplish, even if it looked outwardly like something that brought glory to God.

Ex-Christians (an oxymoron to be sure) do not see this point.  That is proof enough that they never were really Christians.  Being a Christian is not like being a practicing Buddhist, or Muslim, or anything else.  One day, a person can be a practicing Buddhist and the next day, they might walk away from it to try something else.  In their mind, they were in fact a Buddhist and that would be truthful to say, but now they no longer practice Buddhism.

The same cannot be said about Christianity if Jesus was truthful in His conversation to Nicodemus and I have absolutely no doubt that He was truthful, because He could be nothing else.  Jesus explained that in order to see the Kingdom of God, one must be born again, or be born from above.  This is what sets Christianity completely apart from all other faiths.  Christianity stands alone in this regard.  Everything else teaches that wisdom comes from within until we become actualized into a higher plane of spiritual existence.

Christianity says that without the indwelling presence and seal of the Holy Spirit, we cannot receive salvation.  Salvation is eternal life in God’s Kingdom, which actually begins in this life.

The evil servant in the parable that closes out Matthew 24 is just that, evil to the core.  Because he is evil, he abuses his power and position and does not care about those he is supposed to serve.  He does not feed them proper meals, but tosses platitudes that only itches their ears.  That would be like a doctor who prescribes sugar pills for a serious infection.  Obviously, those types of pills would do nothing at all to eradicate the infection though the patient may certainly believe that they are taken something that will heal them.  In the end, they are worse off than before because their faith was in something that was fully unable to help them at all.

Because the evil servant was in charge of people that he did not help and he was deliberate about that, Jesus tells us that He will take care of him upon His return and “appoint [the servant] his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  This is merely another way of stating that this particular individual will be cast into hell and from there, into the lake of fire for all eternity.

This parable ends in judgment; the wise and faithful servant becomes a ruler in God’s Kingdom (cf. v. 47), while the evil servant is literally thrown into hell (cf. v. 51).

Parable of the Talents
The next parable is about the Ten Virgins and we will come back to that one in a moment.  First, let’s look at the parable after the Ten Virgins, which is found in Matthew 25:14-28.

This parable is an interesting one and has a number of things in common with the first parable of the servants.  First, we see that in this parable, there are both good and bad servants.  Second, the parable ends with judgment.

The story is that the Lord of the house goes away, but before He does, He gives talents to each of His servants.  Their job while the Lord is gone is to take their talents and increase them.  Many people simply take this parable as a warm-hearted story about the fact that God has given each of us talents and that we should not squander them, but instead use them for something.  In this interpretation, the point is missed completely.

What the parable is pointing to is the quality of lives of the servants.  The good servants use their talents and those talents bring in some type of return.  The last servant – afraid of the Lord – decides rather than lose the talents that the Lord gave him he will simply bury the talents in a safe place so that he can at least give the exact same talents to the Lord when He returns.

The last servant was under a completely wrong impression.  He believed that the Lord was a hard taskmaster and because of that erroneous view, saw the Lord as mean and unfair.  He then developed an errant view of the master that created a fear that should not have existed.

In other words, in this parable, we again have servants who were truly and authentically saved and one who was not.  The servants who had talents that brought returns simply show that they had the correct attitude regarding the Lord of the house.  This correct attitude comes only from having the correct relationship with Him.  Because these first two servants actually knew the Lord of the house, they were not only not afraid of Him, but were very excited about the possibility of bringing a return on the talents they were given.  They acted the way they did because they wanted to bring glory to their Lord.  The growth in the talents did exactly this; it brought glory to God.

The evil servant, who did not truly know the Lord of the house, mischaracterized the Lord’s demeanor.  He did this because he was not in a relationship with the Lord.  He stood far off, seeing the Lord at a distance, never drawing close to enter into a relationship with Him.  Because of this, he was too afraid to do anything at all, so he thought he should at least bury the talents so that they could not be stolen.

The good servants here in the parable of the talents did the right thing because of their relationship with the Lord.  They understood Him (as much as they could from their point of view) and because of that, endeavored to do the things that made the Lord happy and pleased with them.  The evil servant cared more about himself than anything else and this attitude is what caused him to hide the talents in fear.

The point of the parable has nothing to do with our innate talents that the Lord may have given us.  The point of the parable is teaching that those with a right relationship with God through receiving authentic salvation will live the right way, doing the right things that glorify God.  Those who do not have authentic salvation because they were never born again will not have that authentic relationship with God that prompts them to do the right things and live the right life from within.

Notice that this parable also ends with judgment.  The good servants became rulers (cf. vv. 21, 23), while the evil servant was tossed into hell with the same type of gnashing of teeth that we read about in the first parable (cf. vv. 24:51; 25:30).  So the first and third parables both end on notes of judgment.  This is the judgment that will occur when Jesus physically returns to this earth.

Just prior to setting up His Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will judge the people of the nations.  The results of their individual judgments will determine whether they receive a “well done good and faithful servant,” or a “depart from me because I never knew you.”

Parable of the Ten Virgins
I’ve saved this one for last because it is different from the other two that it is sandwiched between in Scripture.  This particular parable is about ten virgins – five of them wise and five of them unwise.

Please note that the very first verse of Matthew twenty-five says “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.”  In the previous two parables, it was the Lord or Master of the household that left.  He went on a journey but was to return one day.  In both cases, neither set of servants knew when that day was to be.  They simply knew that they were to continue on as if He was still in their presence.

In this particular parable, the Lord is obviously in another place, however here, the virgins are to go out and actually meet the Bridegroom.  They were not to wait until He came to their abode, but were to meet Him as He approached.  This is the first difference.

Immediately, we read that five of the virgins were foolish because as they made ready to go meet the Bridegroom, they did not have oil for their lamps, while the five wise virgins did have oil for their lamps.  This was going to be a problem.

Verse six of Matthew 25 states, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”  Again, the point here is not the time (midnight) that the cry came, but the fact that it did come and with it the directive to go out and meet the Bridegroom.  In the previous two parables, the Lord returned all the way to His home.  In this parable, the emphasis is on the fact that the virgins were awoken and given the order to go out and meet the Bridegroom.

As the virgins got up and began heading out to meet the Bridegroom, the five foolish virgins realized they did not have oil for their lamps.  Of course, they could have gotten oil just as the wise virgins had done.  Instead, they had not been concerned about it, but now that they needed it, they immediately implored the wise virgins to share their oil with them (vv. 8-9).  Note the five unwise virgins said that their lamps had gone out.  The point of this is not that their lamps our going out, or are out.  The point is that they did not have the necessary oil for their lamps to be lit as they made their way to the Bridegroom.

The wise virgins refused the request, saying that if they shared what they had, there would not be enough for their own lamps.  They insisted that the unwise virgins go and purchase their own oil for their own lamps.

Again, we cannot read too much into a parable.  Some believe that this teaches that a person can lose their salvation.  No, it does not.  If we read that far into the parable, then we can also read into it the meaning that salvation (or the Holy Spirit) can be purchased and it (He) cannot.

The point to this entire parable is to highlight the fact that the unwise virgins did not have the Holy Spirit (the oil) therefore they were not authentically saved.  They were virgins, but that is all.  In essence then, the unwise virgins are like professing Christians who believe that they are saved because of what they do.  It turns out though that they are not authentically saved because the Holy Spirit does not indwell them, which occurs during the birth from above, or while being born again (cf. John 3).

In that way, all three parables are similar because they are comparing the unsaved with the saved.  We have the wise servant (saved) in the first parable, the wise servants (saved) in the second parable, and now the wise virgins (saved) in this last parable.  Also in each parable we have the wicked servant (not saved) in the first parable, the wicked servant (not saved) in the second parable and the unwise virgins (not saved) in this last parable.

All three parables also end with a reference to the fact that the individuals who were not saved were not known by the Lord, Master, or Bridegroom.  Since they were unknown to Him, it is clear that they were not in relationship with Him and if not in relationship with Him, they were absolutely not saved.

However, please note that in the first two parables, the Lord or Master returns all the way to the house He had left.  In the third parable – the parable of the virgins – the virgins are told to go out and meet the Bridegroom by a voice altogether different from the virgins or the Bridegroom Himself.  This is a picture of Christ’s Bride – the Church – being called up to meet Him in the air during the event we call the Rapture (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

In essence, the first two parables discussed occur when Jesus physically returns to this earth after the seven-year tribulation period.  The parable dealing with the virgins takes place prior to the seven-year period we call the tribulation.  It is important to understand the difference between the first two parables and the third one.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
In this text, Paul is explaining the time when the (invisible) Church will be called up to meet Jesus in the clouds and will physically be with Him forever from that point onward.  Let’s take a quick look at verses 16 and 17:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

This is very much like the description we find in the parable of the ten virgins.  There is a shout to go out and meet the Bridegroom.  Those who died in Christ, quickly followed by those still alive in Christ will go out (caught up) to meet the Lord.  This is what is occurring in the parable of the ten virgins.  Five of the virgins went out to meet the Lord and the other five did not because they were not ready.  They were not truly part of His Church and were left behind.

This tragedy today is that there are multitudes of people who attend churches, who sing, who pray, who even read their Bibles.  Some of these people sing in choirs, or teach Sunday school, or adult Bible studies.  They may even witness or evangelize other people and give their own testimony.  The truth of the matter though is that the heart is deceitfully wicked and because of that, we cannot know it (cf. Jeremiah 17:9).  It is for this reason that we must endeavor to make sure that we are authentically saved.  We must come to the point as the thief on the cross, who humbled himself to ask Jesus to simply remember him when Jesus came into His Kingdom (cf. Luke 23). 

We must pray that the Lord will open our eyes to the truth of who He is and what He accomplished for us through the shedding of His blood and rising from the dead.  Paul tells us that if we believe with our heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, we will be saved (cf. Romans 10:9).  This is God’s promise to us.  But we need to make sure that we are in fact, believing that Jesus is Lord and that He in fact, did rise from the dead. 

It is not good enough to believe that Jesus was a good man, or a great prophet.  He said and did many things and many of those things point to the fact that He was/is God.  This is either believed or rejected.  If we reject that fact, we are rejecting Jesus because that is who He is – God in the flesh (cf. John 1).

In each of the above-referenced parables, there were wise and faithful individuals as well as evil individuals.  They were in the same groups, but were set apart by one thing; their relationship to their Lord, Master, or the Bridegroom.  Only those who fully believe from their heart that Jesus is who He said He is, are able to enter into that life-changing relationship that brings us out of the kingdom of darkness into His Kingdom of Light.

This is the absolute most important point of these three parables.  It is the need to be saved.  It is the need to be in relationship with Jesus.  Without that, nothing else matters.  With it, everything else comes into focus.

Second to that is the fact that two of the parables speak to the physical return of Jesus to this earth where He will set up His Kingdom.  These two parables speak of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  The third parable – the ten virgins – speaks of the event known as the Rapture and that event is reserved only for those who have the oil of the Holy Spirit.  This life-changing oil provides the foundation that only comes from the new birth.  Without that oil, when the Rapture occurs, those who think they are saved will be left behind.

Are you saved?  Have your eyes been opened to the identity of Jesus?  Do you understand what He accomplished for you on Calvary’s cross?  His brutal and bloody death was the sacrifice necessary so that we might be allowed to enter into direct relationship with Him.  When Jesus died, then rose from the dead three days later, He literally sealed the deal, making a public spectacle of the powers of darkness because at that point, they became fully and actively defeated.  Their fate is sure.  The fate of those who believe from the heart that Jesus is Lord is also sure.

Romans 8 opens with the fact that those who have trusted in Christ for salvation are no longer under any sort of condemnation.  This same chapter ends with the fact that nothing will ever separate us from God’s love.  That is huge.  There is nothing greater than knowing all of our sins – past, present, and future – are gone, literally cancelled.  Coupled with that is the truth that because of our salvation, we will never, ever have to be separated from God.

Truly, these two blessings are too big, too great for us to comprehend here and now.  We trust in those truths, but we will not fully understand them until we see Him face to face.  May He come quickly!

Entry filed under: 9/11, alienology, Atheism and religion, Demonic, dispensationalism, Eastern Mysticism, emergent church, Islam, israel, Judaism, Life in America, new age movement, Posttribulational Rapture, Pretribulational Rapture, rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, Satanism, second coming, Sharia Law, temple mount. Tags: , , , , .

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