Lesson 102: The Mount of Olives Discourse / Two Grand Parables
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome again! This is lesson # 102. We're making some progress. We've spent four lessons on three chapters, Matt. ch. 24, Mark ch. 13, Luke ch. 21. Matthew has one more chapter, ch. 25 that is part of the lesson Jesus taught Peter, James, John and Andrew on the side of Mt. Olivet, just across from the temple. This is still part of that last question they asked about the end of the world. Ch. 25 can easily be divided into three sections, (#1) the parable of the ten virgins. (#2) The parable of the talents. And (#3), the judgment. So, let's proceed one by one in the order given. By way of review, you need to remember that Jesus began answering the last question, about the end of the world, in Matt. ch. 24:36. He said it would be like the days of Noah. Then after Jesus had said much about this, Jesus asked them a question, i.e. Peter, James, John and Andrew. That question is in v.45, "Who then is a faithful and wise servant...??" Then in every verse, v.46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, Jesus made reference to THAT servant. Who is a servant? i.e. a servant of the Lord? We use the word Christian and the word disciple. In v. 50 Jesus said, "the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Ch. 25, begins with the word, "then." "THEN shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins..." Thus, the first parable of 13 verses in Matt. ch. 25; has reference to the way it's going to be with the church when Jesus comes the second time. The church is made up of servants. Servants in this parable are called virgins to indicate the purity of Christians in the sight of God. So, Lets read the first 13 verses of Matt. ch. 25. Are you ready, beginning in v.l. Let's read. "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
Alright, one of the bad things about breaking this up into several lessons is that we tend to lose continuity. So, read it enough to keep it tightly connected. This parable is NOT talking about the unconverted, the unbeliever, i.e. the non-Christian. The kingdom of heaven, i.e. the earthly phase of Jesus' kingdom, also called the church, i.e. the citizens of that kingdom are going to be like this. "THEN", (v.l), i.e. at the end of the world, Jesus is saying the church, his servants will be like this. Peter, one of those apostles here, asked two questions many years later in I Pet. 4:17, 18, "what shall be the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" The number 10 here has no special significance. But, notice that all ten, i.e. all the servants in Jesus' parable are called virgins, or in other words, virtuous servants. This parable is built upon the idea of a marriage which is an extension of illustrations already used in the gospel records. Do you remember John the Baptist's illustration in John 3:29? Christ was the bridegroom in John's illustration. Jesus had used the illustration of a marriage supper or marriage feast earlier that day, Tuesday in the temple, by comparing the kingdom of heaven to a marriage; that's back at the beginning of Matt. ch. 22. The idea is used other places in the N.T. as well as in Rev. ch. 19, that we mentioned before. I don't understand much about their wedding customs in those days. It was mostly a matter of contractual arrangements ahead of time with the parents. When it came time for the marriage; the bridegroom went first to the home of the bride where a feast and a party in their honor was sponsored by the bride's father. Then, finally the bridegroom brought the bride to his own home. Apparently, this usually happened at night, I sense from the parable. The bridegroom in this parable had household servant, called virgins in this parable. It was their responsibility to ready the home for their lord's arrival with his bride and to welcome home their master and his bride. The servants were not told when their master would arrive with his bride; they were simply told to be ready, prepared and watching for his arrival. Five virgins were wise and five were foolish. Whatever the oil represents, the point is that five of the servants; (please note: they were servants, you must understand) but, they did not get thoroughly prepared for the occasion. They were caught off guard by the DELAY in their lord's coming. V.5 said, "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept", i.e. they took a nap on the job. In other words they did not go to bed in a formal approved sense and ignore the bridegroom's coming. Their station in life likely permitted reasonable resting and napping while waiting as long as they had a watchman posted and were thoroughly doing their job. All ten were aroused at the bridegroom's coming. But, as the bridegroom approached; the difference in the five wise virgins and the five foolish virgins became apparent. All had made some preparation; but, the five foolish virgins had made insufficient preparation. It was then too late to prepare. While they were making a last minute attempt; the door was shut. Borrowed righteousness will not be accepted on the judgment day. Then in v.13, Jesus makes the application of his parable: "Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." One of the observations you need to make here: When Jesus returns, the bride will be with him. The bride is the church, Eph. 5:22-32. In connection with this thought, please read 1 Thes. 4:13-18. Now, let me make that an assignment! Turn the tape player off and read right now I Thes. 4:13-18.
O.K. let's go to the next parable, the parable of the talents. V.14-30. Don't forget the sitting, Jesus, James, John, Peter and Andrew on the side of Mt. Olivet. Let's read beginning in v.14. "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou has not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gathered where I have not strewed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Undoubtedly, in reading the parable of the talents; you will remember the parable of the pounds in Luke ch. 18 that Jesus gave in the house of Zaccheus. Undoubtedly, Peter, James, John and Andrew were present in Zaccheus1 house at Jericho when Jesus gave the parable of the pounds. Both parables begin with the idea of the master going into a far country. The point is, Jesus represents the master or the king of his kingdom. Jesus would soon go into heaven and the work of the kingdom was going to be left with his disciples. You will remember in that parable Jesus called ten servants and gave them ten pounds and said, "Occupy till I come." So, it's obvious that Jesus used similar parables as he taught from place to place. In the parable of the pounds Jesus gave each servant the same amount to invest but the rewards were different. In the parable of the talents that we are embarking upon; Jesus gave his servants different amounts; "to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey." (v.15). But, to every servant that obeyed his lord's instruction, the reward was the same. The theme of the parable of the ten virgins was to WATCH. The theme of this parable, the parable of the talents, is WORK or accomplishment. Thus, there are two aspects of duty for each citizen of the kingdom.. One is to watch, i.e. exercise that inward man quality, sometimes called faith, which Jesus emphasized in the sermon of the mount. The other aspect of duty is to carry out the work, i.e. perform physical functions that emanate from that inward man quality in accordance with understanding. Not everyone is given the same resources in this respect; our abilities are not the same. A talent in this parable represents a quantity of money; apparently a rather large sum. We won't try to translate a talent into dollars and cents as some commentators do. But, Jesus used finance to make his point. I remember some year ago teaching the parable of the talents in an adult class and I made the statement that a talent was money. I'll never forget how strongly one woman in the class challenged the statement; she was a very outspoken sister. I'll never forget how she wilted down when I called her attention to v.18 and v.27, where Jesus used the word "money" synonymously with talents. It was one of those few times in my teaching that I happened to have my finger on the answer. I usually, discover the answer about a week or sometimes a month later. Now, take the time to it get this parable in clear perspective. In v.13, the conclusion of the parable of the ten virgins was-"Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." V.14 connects to that thought with the word "for." "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling in a far country." The church or the kingdom that Jesus and John the Baptist had so strongly emphasized, and described, and defined, and said was at hand; would be in some way like this parable. You see, Jesus was telling Peter and the other "three apostles that he would be leaving them and was going to leave the work with them, and all disciples actually. So far as work is concerned, they would be left to their individual initiative. Every servant would have certain resources. He was to use those resources to accomplish as much as he could for his master. Each servant would be on his own and each servant would be reckoned with individually. V.19 said, "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them." That is, each disciple, or each servant; would be called to account for his accomplishment; i.e. the fruit of his efforts. That fruit might represent teaching others. It might be measured in influence, benevolence, good deeds. It might be measured in the number of souls converted. It's equivalent to Jesus' statement in John 15:8, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciple." Now, the master delivered HIS goods to his servants, v.14. But, notice that no quotas were assigned. Every servant is left on his own to accomplish what he can. The man that was given five talents traded and made five more talents. He was praised and rewarded. The man that was given two talents traded and made two other talents, i.e. proportionately he done the same. He was praised and reward equally with the five talent man. But, the one talent man didn't try and that was why he was condemned.' He was given no quotas to meet; but, he was told to work, you see. He didn't! He simply protected what he was given. He made no effort to bear fruits and produce for his master. Realize, now, he was not dishonest! He didn't extort that which was given to him. He protected it by digging into the earth, v.18, and "hid his lord's money." When called into reckoning, v.25, he promptly returned what he was originally given, every penny. Why was he condemned? He did not work or take any chances with his Lord's resources as he had been instructed to do. Notice what the lord of that servant said in v.25, "Thou wicked and slothful servant..." Why was he wicked? He didn't obey! Why was he slothful, i.e. lazy? You see, he didn't work on the assignment he was given. Every disciple is given an assignment, to work and obey — watch and pray. In James 2:26, that writer said, "faith without works is dead." Those inward qualities of meekness, gentleness, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, mercy, peace and all that is great. It's necessary to salvation, you better believe it! Jesus requires it! But, Jesus also requires more than mental assent. Jesus requires putting it into action in your life, YES!, study, teach, and trade, i.e. deal with our fellow man and bring souls to Christ. Look at v.27, Jesus said to the one talent man, "Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine with usury." What if the man had tried and failed, the question is often asked, i.e. what if the one talent man had worked and lost the lord's money? First of all, you can't fail in the business of Christianity. You can only, gain; you cannot fail. But, even if that should happen in some way; I believe the Lord will still say; "Well done." If one works and tries; he can't be charged with slothfulness. We can't be charged with wickedness. If we work and obey, and that's all that is asked. Watch and pray; work and obey. Fear of failing is not a sufficient excuse. Have you heard someone say; I would become a Christian; but, I'm afraid I couldn't hold out? You see, that excuse won't get it! That's the message in this parable. Until our next lesson, have a good day.