IN OR OUT?
THEN THE kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish (thoughtless, without forethought) and five were wise (sensible, intelligent, and prudent). For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them; But the wise took flasks of oil along with them [also] with their lamps. While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they all began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep. But at midnight there was a shout, Behold, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him! Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order. And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. But the wise replied, There will not be enough for us and for you; go instead to the dealers and buy for yourselves. But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came and said, Lord, Lord, open [the door] to us! But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, I do not know you [I am not acquainted with you].
Watch therefore [give strict attention and be cautious and active], for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.
For it is like a man who was about to take a long journey, and he called his servants together and entrusted them with his property. To one he gave five talents [probably about $5,000], to another two, to another one–to each in proportion to his own personal ability. Then he departed and left the country. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he gained five talents more. And likewise he who had received the two talents–he also gained two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came and brought him five more, saying, Master, you entrusted to me five talents; see, here I have gained five talents more. His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master enjoys. And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, Master, you entrusted two talents to me; here I have gained two talents more. His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master enjoys. He who had received one talent also came forward, saying, Master, I knew you to be a harsh and hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you had not winnowed [the grain]. So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is your own. But his master answered him, You wicked and lazy and idle servant! Did you indeed know that I reap where I have not sowed and gather [grain] where I have not winnowed? Then you should have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent away from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will be furnished richly so that he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have will be taken away. And throw the good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness; there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.
When the Son of Man comes in His glory (His majesty and splendor), and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them [the people] from one another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats; And He will cause the sheep to stand at His right hand, but the goats at His left. Then the King will say to those at His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God and appointed to eternal salvation], inherit (receive as your own) the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me. Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me. Then He will say to those at His left hand, begone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me and entertain Me, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me with help and ministering care. Then they also [in their turn] will answer, Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? And He will reply to them, Solemnly I declare to you, in so far as you failed to do it for the least [in the estimation of men] of these, you failed to do it for Me. Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but those who are just and upright and in right standing with God into eternal life.
Following on the contrast of wicked vs. wise servants, extolling the blessedness in store for the latter, Jesus expounds on the nature of the Kingdom of God. His illustrations, “it will be like,” give insight into how that contrast between how the slothful and faithful disposition will ultimately be played out and then be separated to go to their very different eternal futures.
So, this section of Scripture contains some of Jesus’ most well known illustrations – The Ten Virgins & The Bridegroom, The Invested Talents & The Rewards and The Sheep & The Goats. Of course, the last one of the three is not really about animals. He refers to these creatures because the parallel would be very familiar in that culture and also because, though similar, these animals are easily distinguishable.
The illustration quickly becomes very personal – From – Jesus sits on His Throne and all nations are brought before Him – To – He separates the people “as” a shepherd separates sheep from goats – mutton from chevon or cabrito – wool from hair. Reminds of the story of the wheat and tares (see Matthew 13). Both thrive in the same “field,” but… Jesus brings the illustration right up in our laps. “All nations” and “people” means you and me, grown on the same planet, but… we are very different – in one respect – our relation to Jesus.
Jesus describes the nature of that relationship in terms of something He needed and we either gave Him what He needed or we didn’t.
Hungry – you fed me – or – you didn’t
Thirsty – you gave a drink – or – you didn’t
A stranger – you welcomed me – or – you didn’t
Naked – you gave me clothes – or – you didn’t
Sick and in prison – you visited me – or – you didn’t
The first thing that strikes me is that He needed something…. from me.
The next thing is that neither group recognized Him as the one who was in need.
Wow! Pretty mysterious. Is it a trick? A test cloaked in a disguise? I don’t think so. If it was a deception, it wouldn’t be Jesus. The problem is not that He was in disguise. The problem is our perception. But here’s the kicker — our bad eyesight or mindless oblivion to reality is not the issue that is being rewarded or punished. The issue is that we did or did not give Jesus what He needed.
Of course, if they had recognized that the needy person was Jesus, they would have given Him what He needed, right? OK, I know this is jumping off into very deep waters here but scripture shows that what a person is, is what a person is. In other words, unless the atonement of God through His messiah’s death and resurrection has been applied, there is no transformed people. You can act different, but you aren’t different. You’re just an actor. In this context — you are either a giver or you are not. Furthermore, the giver Jesus is describing is the same one that James, the first head of the church in Jerusalem described in his epistle and called it “true religion.”
The scary thing about this whole scene is that everybody but Jesus seemed to be oblivious to what was happening. All I can say is, Please make sure Jesus is living out His disposition through you more fully every day. How do you do that? Walk where He wants to walk, say what He’s saying. Take every thought captive to the nature of your only Savior.