Matthewby Mike Raiter
Christians know that Jesus will return from heaven to judge the living and the dead. Before that great day, how should we live? Jesus answers this question in four parables, each building on the other.
At the end of the previous section, Jesus told us to be ready because we do not know when He will return (Matthew 24:44). In the first of His four stories, He describes a master who goes away for a while and leaves one of his employees in charge (Matthew 24:45-51). If the employee has performed well, the boss will reward him. If not, he will be thrown out.
The next story describes ten bridesmaids waiting for the groom to arrive at the wedding (Matthew 25:1-13). Like the faithful employee, five know he could be a while and are prepared. Five are not prepared and, upon his arrival, find themselves shut out.
In the third parable, a master entrusts his property to three of his servants (Matthew 25:14-30). Again, the master is away a long time and, as in the earlier parables, we see how the men spend that time. Two use the money the master gives them to make a profit for his kingdom, and are rewarded. Yet, just like there was one faithless employee (Matthew 24:48) and five foolish virgins (Matthew 25:2), there is an unproductive servant who buries his talent (Matthew 25:24-25). He too is cast out.
We have been told to be ready, and then to be productive in God's service, but what is the profit the master wants from his servants? The final story takes us to judgment day (Matthew 25:31-46). Again, there are two groups of people. What is the difference? It is seen in how they lovingly treat the brothers of Jesus (Matthew 25:40). In Matthew's gospel these ″brothers″ are Jesus' disciples (cf. Matthew 10:42; 12:48-50; 28:10). The faithful disciple is the one who uses the resources the Lord has given to him or her to help a brother or sister in need. Once again, the wicked that do nothing are cast out.
How should we then live? We should use all our resources to bless others, especially God's people, by deeds of love and kindness. This is the profit Jesus wants. These are the ones who are living in the light of Jesus' coming.
In the light of these parables, what will Jesus look for in the lives of His disciples on judgment day?
Why are the sheep and the goats surprised at the words of the King (Matthew 25:34-45)? What does the parable tell us about Jesus' relationship with His people?