Matthew 25 – The Parable of the 10 Virgins, the Talents and the Judgement of the Nations

Overview

Eph 2:8-10  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in

Sometimes I wonder why certain parables or lessons are side by side in the Gospels.  They seem disconnected, yet I believe there is a purpose for being there together.   The challenge is to see the thread of the story, an interconnection between the teachings that as we mature we are able to see.   Today’s lesson in Matthew 25 covers 3 parables or teachings:  the Parable of the 10 Virgins, The Parable of the Talents, the teaching of the Judgment of the Nations.  As we will see, the thread that connects these 3 seemingly separate teachings is that the New Birth takes time.  It takes time to get us to where we are what God desires.  

This is a hard teaching.   Isn’t the new birth instantaneous?  Wasn’t the thief on the cross saved when he simply asked Christ to remember him when he came into his kingdom?  Yes and yes.   The new birth is instantaneous and the thief on the cross was saved when he called out to Christ.  However, if we let the scriptures speak salvation is bigger than the event of “getting saved.”  We are saved unto something (Ephesians 2:10).  There are trials to pass through (Matthew 13:3-30) and a price to be paid, a weighing of the cost (Matthew 13:44-46) that we all must pass through as we continue on to salvation in its intended sense.  This is a mystery as it were, but we must accept it and it is given to us to know (Matthew 13:11).  A friend once told me that an easy truth is one where the opposite is false.   A hard truth is one where the opposite is also true.   This is a hard truth.   The new birth is both instantaneous and the beginning of a trial that we must pass through successfully – but by the strength of Christ – in order to be a part of the kingdom of heaven.

The Parable of the 10 Virgins

The “then” Matthew 25:1 refers to what was being discussed in the previous chapter which was the end times.   So these virgins portray people living in the end times.  However, the lesson is applicable to all of us because the path of salvation is common to all.

Ten is a number for completeness, particularly of a set containing members.  For example, we have ten fingers and ten toes.  If we are missing a finger then the set is not complete.  The set is not as God intended it to be. 

The virgins portray those who are pressing to enter the kingdom of God through Christ (Luke 16:16).  They are like virgins who have not consummated a marriage (Ephesians 5:30-32, Revelation 21).   The marriage that these virgins seek will not be consummated until the believers becomes bone of Christ’s bones and flesh of His flesh in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:13-58).  So the ten virgins portray the body of believers that Christ intends to have, but as the return of Christ draws nigh half of them have no oil.  The intended set is not complete.

It is a time of great darkness – midnight – as far from the light of evening or morning as you can be.   Sad.   These people are struggling to enter the kingdom of God but the light of God’s Word is not shining brightly for them.  However,   something makes them all realize that the return of Christ the Bridegroom is near.  Some kind of cry is made.  What this is I do not know.  Perhaps it is simply a moving of God’s Spirit.  The bottom line is that they realize that Christ’s return is imminent and they begin to trim their lamps.

A lot of us in the West don’t know what it means to trim a lamp.  Those of you in Africa probably do.  It refers to sharpening the wick and making it into a point so that the lamp will burn brightly and clear.  The virgins all clean up their lives; sharpen their wicks as it were, but only half have the oil of God’s Spirit.  They are told to go and buy this from those that sell. 

It is interesting that they realize that they do not have the same oil as the real virgins.  How they realize this I am not sure.  However, it may have to do with the cross of Christ.  You see we are all called to take up the same cross as Christ bore.  This cross is a message and a way of life that is peaceful, humble and kind, but it provokes the world into persecuting us just as they did Jesus (John 15:18-27).  Even in the early days of the church there were those within the church who began to teach in such a way that the cross of Christ was removed.   Their God became their belly and they began to mind earthly things (Philippians 3:8-19, Jude 1:11-19, Romans 16:17-18). This began to take away the cross of Christ.  It was an earthly gospel that somehow promised the blessings of God but took away the sufferings that come with following Christ.  In 2 Timothy 1 we see Paul exhorting Timothy to continue on and not be ashamed of his sufferings but rather to be a partaker of them.   I believe in any age if we truly follow Christ we will suffer the cross – it makes us a spectacle to the world, a city set on a hill (1 Corinthians 4:8-16, Matthew 5:11-16).  Note carefully we are a spectacle because of our sufferings, not because of our religious success, large buildings and large budget.

 (Note:  In the Old Covenant the oil that was used in the tabernacle had to be “beaten for the light (Leviticus 24:2).”  This spoke of the process used to make oil; however, I believe it also portrayed the sufferings of the cross of Christ.  In order to be light, we must suffer the beatings – rejection and persecution of men, often religious men, just as Christ suffered.)

I believe those who sell are those who are actively involved in bringing others to Christ.  This should really be everyone in God’s family.   It is not as though we are selling the kingdom of God for money.  It is that we are the exchangers (Matthew 25:27).  We stand between God and man and offer to convert their money to something of value.  The money they have is their lives (Revelation 12:11). We as God’s mouthpiece are like doors (Psalm 24:7-9).  We stand at the entry to the kingdom of God and offer salvation to those who pass our way.   If we tell them the gospel truly we will let them know both the price and value of what they are seeking.  We won’t just tell them the value and hide the price.  As we teach them then we are like merchants that are teaching the customer about a valuable but costly purchase.  You don’t but it on a whim, rather you consider the price of this pearl (Matthew 13:46) and only purchase it when you are ready to sell all that you have to purchase it.  This takes time and involves trial as we pointed out in the introduction to the lesson.  It is a mystery that must be understood even as we also understand that the thief on the cross was saved instantaneously.  The 5 Foolish Virgins waited too long and did not have time for the transaction to be completed.  If nothing else the lesson is that now is the accepted time, if God is calling you do not linger (II Corinthians 6:2).  Run and follow.  Do not allow the Bridegroom to come and the door to be shut before you enter.

The Parable of the Talents

The other two teachings in the chapter make it clear what is to be happening while [the foolish virgins] went to buy (Matthew 25:10).  The Parable of the Talents teaches that we are to use what we are given and the teaching of the Judgment of the Nations teaches that we are to love the brethren and weak in a practical way.  We need time to do this.  We need time to perform the works that has ordained for us from the foundation of the worlds.  This is hard to reconcile with the example of the thief on the cross who was saved within minutes or hours of his death.  However, all we can say is that the thief on the cross was saved on God’s schedule and accomplished the works God had laid out for him.  

This is a very different way of understanding what happened with the thief on the cross rather than thinking that anyone can be saved up until their very last breath.  God has planned works for all of us to accomplish in Christ.  He calls us to Himself on a schedule that aligns to accomplishing those works.  We need time to grow and mature so that we can fully use the gifts that God has invested in us.  This takes time.  So when God calls us, we should run to Him and from that point forward rest from our own works and labor in His fields diligently to bring forth fruit (Hebrews 4:9-11).

Our works in Christ are empowered by the Spirit of God and they are like money that we are to trade with.  In this world if a merchant set us up in business he would expect us to use the resources he had given us to increase his business.  So it is with God.   He gives us spiritual gifts and earthly resources to increase His kingdom (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4).   On a practical basis this is each of us plugging into a local church, maturing and using the gifts that God has given us to bring others into His family and help them mature so that they can be productive too.  If we do not use what we are given we will not be a part of God’s family in the end (Matthew 25:29-30).  If we do use what we are given we will be rewarded proportionately.  God looks at this very differently than we do.  In His kingdom that which was despised in this world will be exalted (Mark 12:38-44).  The reward will related at least in some way to the authority we are given in the new heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21:23-34).

The Judgment of the Nations

In Luke 16:19-31 a rich man ignores the needs of Lazarus a beggar and as a result ends up in hell.   We will all be judged according to this same standard.  Yes it is true that Christ saves us, but as we have seen He saves us unto something.  We must lay down our lives and participate in what He has called us to.   One aspect of what He calls us to is to love.  If we love we will help the poor, the weak, the despised both within and without of the church.   While our primary call is to minister to those within the body of Christ, we are also called to minister to those without the body.  The bottom line is that we are to love in a practical way out of a loving and generous heart.  This is true religion.

Summary

So the lesson of this chapter is a hard truth.   We are saved by faith in Christ.   It is a gift of God.  It is not of works.   Yet there is a component of salvation that includes walking in the good works that God has ordained us to do.  It takes time for most people to mature in Christ and accomplish these works.   The thief on the cross was an exception.  His works were limited and only involved a confession before men.  For most of us, the accountability is much greater.   The foolish virgins waited too long and did not respond to God’s call in a timely way.  Let us pray and exhort one another to love and good works so that we are not found to be like the foolish virgins.

Eph 2:8-10  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. 

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1 Response to “Matthew 25 – The Parable of the 10 Virgins, the Talents and the Judgement of the Nations”


  1. 1 Wycliffe Aseka April 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    The parable gives us an insight or a total overview on how we need to be alert on the things of God and waiting upon the Lord without getting weary. At the time we may not expect Him ,that is the time He cometh. So don’t get tired of the great work you do to reach the world with the true gospel. In Nairobi we are doing so well. what I say is that welcome. May God bless you in Jesus name. Regards Wycliffe.


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