Having warned His disciples to be ever-watchful, Jesus explained them the consequences of their action through parables.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Speaking in parables Jesus told His disciples that the kingdom of heaven would be like ten virgins who were waiting to meet the bridegroom but were unaware of the time when the groom would come. Half were wise who were ready for the arrival of the groom with their oiled lamps, whereas the other half had lamps without oil. The groom however arrived at an unexpected time and those who were ready, went with him. The foolish ones then started preparing but it was too late, by the time they reached, the doors were already shut and they were denied to be recognized.
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.Matthew 25:13
Anyone who is ready to wait in the dark for a long period of time would be aware that their lamps would need an extra canister of oil so that the oil lamps can be refilled. The foolish virgins did not realize were making an appearance and did not understand the purpose of them waiting for the bridegroom. When the bridegroom did show up they had no oil in their lamps and thus severed no purpose by being there and were consequently left out of the wedding party. Each of us have been given lamps but only few are wise enough to carry the extra oil that is needed to keep our flame alive. The foolish, the wise, the wicked and the meek have all been given the oil lamp when Christ died on the cross. It’s how we use our salvation that is important. Do we take it for granted or do we build on it with God’s help.
We do not know the time when the Messiah would come to take us, so we have to be ready at all times. We shouldn’t think that we can prepare for the coming of the Lord when we are old, post-retirement, when would not have anything to do, but should be ready and give our best, the prime years of our lives. We should not just put away God and think that He would receive us anyway, even if he has already made the decision. We would end up like the foolish ones in the parable and left out of His kingdom unrecognized.
The Parable of the Bags of Gold
In another parable Jesus talks about a man who when about to go on a long journey called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them, each according to his ability.
To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.Matthew 25:15
Now the one who received five bags of gold put his money to work and gained five more for his master. Similarly the one had been given two bags of gold turned it into four for his master. But the one who had been given only one bag did not put the money to any use but simply dug a hole in the ground and hid the money. When the master returned after a longtime he called his servants to settle accounts with them. The ones who had gained the masters money were rewarded handsomely. However the one who was lazy and did not put the money to any use was given a different reward.
‘Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’Matthew 25:24-25
Even after knowing that his master was a hard man the lazy servant could not be bothered by his master’s instructions and lived his wasteful life. He became complacent and was banking on the grace and kindness of his master to get out from having to work like the other servants. We have been told many times about the wrath of God and consequence of disobeying Him that we have gotten accustomed to it and have started taking our Lord for granted. But the wages of sin is death for those who do not pay heed to the Lord’s instructions. They would be sent to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth along with the hypocrites. But the ones who proved their worth will be rewarded in abundance.
For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Sheep and the Goats
Talking about the day of the Lord Jesus says that he will sit on the glorious throne and all the nations would be gathered before Him as He separates them, putting the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’Matthew 25:34-36
The above separation of goats and sheep is based on what they did while they lived on the earth. Just like the wise virgins and the obedient servants who proved their worth the righteous shall prove their worth by helping the distraught among them and in turn giving all glory to God. Though salvation cannot be earned through good works but someone who has experienced the true joy that comes from above cannot help but overflow that joy onto the lives of everyone that person interacts with. Like the example of the leaves of the fig tree Jesus gave in the last chapter as an indicator to knowing that Summer is near, the works a man does out of the love for his brethren is a byproduct of the salvation he has received with the primary being the complete devotion for Christ.
- What does the oil and lamp represent in our lives?
- Why was the lazy servant not afraid of his master knowing even after knowing his characteristic?
- How can we relate to the parable of the lazy servant and the foolish virgins?
- Does doing good guarantee our salvation? Why is Jesus emphasizing the need for good works?