“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,
then he will sit on his glorious throne.”
Probably no other event has been spoken or written about more than the second coming of Christ. Here in Matthew 25, actually a continuation of chapter 24, Jesus speaks to his disciples in parables to prepare them for the time between his ascension and before his second coming. Keep in mind these parables were in response to their question in chapter 24 (v3).
“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying,
“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming
and of the end of the age?”
Jesus starts off chapter 25 by using the phrase “The kingdom of heaven is like…” and then precedes to tell his disciples the parables about the Ten Virgins, the given Talents and a description of the Final Judgement. These parables speak to us in preparedness, kingdom investment and the Lord gathering his sheep from among the world. In all three accounts, Jesus recognizes those who are his sheep (believers) and those who are not (unbelievers).
In the parable of the ten Virgins, Jesus speaks about his church being prepared for his return using the example of a traditional Jewish wedding. It was Jewish custom for the groom and his friends to leave his house, often at night, and go meet the bride at her home where the ceremony was conducted. After the ceremony, the wedding party would then return with the groom back to his house for the celebration. Since this often happens at night, oil for their lamps was vital. Here the bridegroom was delayed, and the brides fell asleep. At midnight, when the bridegroom arrived, the five foolish virgins realized they were almost out of oil and couldn’t make the journey back with the bridegroom. The five foolish virgins asked the five wise virgins for some of their oil. Not having enough oil for all of them, the five wise virgins instructed the five foolish virgins to go purchase additional lamp oil. In doing this, the five foolish unprepared brides missed going back with the bridegroom and were not allowed into the celebration and culmination of the wedding. The bridegroom said to these five, “I do not know you!” There is probably no other event where so much time, effort and money goes into than a wedding. Forgetting something as important as lamp oil is unacceptable. You can’t have a celebration at night without light!
The second parable in Matthew chapter 25 deals with stewardship. Here a man goes on a journey and entrusts his property to his servants. He gives to the first servant 5 talents, the second, 2 talents and the third, 1 talent; each is given according to his ability. The first and second servants each doubled the number of their talents through trading. The third did something totally different. He buried the talent and thought no more about it. When the master returned, he commends the first 2 servants for increasing the talents given to them and receive their eternal reward, the “joy of the master.” The third servant was rebuked and punished for doing nothing with the talent he was given. Simply storing by burying it showed laziness and lack of concern for his master’s property. His talent was taken and given to the one with 10 talents, and then cast to outer darkness. Notice the master wasn’t judging by the amount of increase, just that there was growth. He would have even settled for the interest. This is interesting because Jews could not charge fellow Jews interest on loans. They could only charge interest to Gentiles.
Remember Jesus begins with “The kingdom of heaven is like…”(v1). We see two key principles about the Kingdom here. First, the Bride of Christ (church) is to be prepared and eagerly awaiting Christ’s return. Then we have the entrusted servants charged with managing the master’s talents. Both the bridegroom and the master leave for a period of time and return. These represent Christ who ascended to heaven and who will return for his bride/faithful servants. The wise virgins and the faithful servants represent those who are believers and will enter into the joy of the Lord. Finally, the foolish virgins and the wicked and slothful servant represent those that are not believers, unknown by the Lord (v12) and cast into outer darkness (v30). In verses 31 through the end of the chapter, Jesus explains when he returns in his glory and sits on the throne, he will separate the sheep (to his right) from the goats (to his left). Then those on his right will inherit his kingdom and the ones to his left will be cursed and placed into eternal fire. This is why it can be said that the gospel is first bad news before it is good news! The bad news is that we are sinners in need of a savior. The good news is that God has made a way through Christ, the one given to redeem us from our sins, and raised us up into everlasting life. The Apostle Paul says it best in Colossians:
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.