Following His revelation of the End Days Jesus tells three parables one after another. (Matthew 25:1-46): The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (1-13), The Parable of The Talents (14-30) and The Sheep and The Goats (31-46). In the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, Jesus likens the Kingdom of Heaven to 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Of the 10 virgins 5 were wise and 5 were foolish. The wise virgins had made sure that their lamps were filled with oil while the foolish ones took lamps without oil. He goes on to say that because the bridegroom was delayed all the virgins fell asleep. When the bridegroom appeared at midnight the 10 virgins trimmed their lamps and prepared to go out to meet him. To their dismay, the foolish virgins who did not bring oil with their lamps found their lamps going out and had to go looking for oil. While they were away, the bridegroom arrived and took the wise virgins with him into the banquet hall shutting the door behind him. When they foolish virgins returned they called for the bridegroom to let them in but he answered saying that he did not know them. Jesus concludes the parable saying, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." (v13) In the next parable Jesus tells of a landowner who, before leaving to go to a distant land called his three servants to him. To one he gave five talents (a measure of currency of the time), to another he gave two and to the third one each according to their ability. The parable goes on to say that the servant with five talents went out and made five more and the servant with two talents also went out and made two more. The servant with one talent, on the other hand dug a hole in the ground and hid his one talent. Jesus goes on to say that when the landowner returned, the two servants who had doubled the money returned the money and their earnings to the landowner. To each the landowner showed his pleasure equally, saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord." (v21 and v23) The servant who had hid his one talent also came and returned it to the landlord saying, "Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours." (v24-25) Angered the landlord replied, "You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (v26-30) Jesus concludes His teaching in Matthew 25:31-45 with the lesson of the Sheep and Goats. In this parable, Jesus says that when He returns, He will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep were those who have gave Him food when He was hungry, water when He was thirsty, welcomed Him when He was a stranger, visited Him when He was sick and imprisoned and the goats were those did not. To the sheep He welcomed them into His Kingdom saying, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (v 34) and to the goats He proclaimed, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (v 41) When each group asked Him when they had either done or failed to do any of the things for Him. Jesus replied saying, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (v40) and "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." (v 45) That evening Jesus returns to Bethany and while he was at the house of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him and began to anoint Him with expensive perfume from an alabaster flask. (Matthew 26:6-13) Devotional Thought 1 - As I ponder His last three parables my heart is filled with unspeakable relief and joy. It is as though He is answering the question that His disciples should have asked if they had believed Him and understood Him when He told them of His purpose in Jerusalem that week. The same question that we who have the advantage of hindsight would have asked had we been there, "Master, You are leaving us. How then shall we live?" If we understood these three parables in light of this question, His answer would have been clear and unequivocal. It might be something along these lines: "Be ready and waiting, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Be faithful and obedient. Be watchful because I will return like a thief in the night and no man will know, only the Father." "As you wait, be faithful with the gifts and abilities I have given you. I know your abilities, did I not create you? I will not demand of you beyond what you are capable of. Do not fear, I am not a hard master. I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. As you are faithful in your stewardship you will be blessed with abundance." "As you are blessed, use those blessings in loving response to me. Feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, take in the stranger, visit the lonely and the sick. Remember my greatest commandment. Love me with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and remember to love you neighbor as yourself. Do all these as you wait and you be called the blessed of My Father. You will inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Once more, please do not mistake this to mean that works will save us. If we declare that we love Him then we would love as he loved. Devotional Thought 2 - As if in anticipation to some who might mistake His last instructions in the lesson of the Sheep and Goats to mean an emphasis on works. The account of the woman who anoints him with expensive perfume reminds us that nothing must be greater than our love for Him. As we ponder, pray, and study during this Holy Week remember that He requires and deserves our all. In all that we do we must do as if it is for God.
Amen brother . . . thanks for an anointed word.