Jesus spoke of what would happen in the end and spoke of his return, but he knew that there would be many who would fall away or who would become dismayed because it seemed to them to be a long time until he returned.
But Jesus knew that this is how it must be, and so he began to warn the disciples of some specific things that they must be aware of within the waiting time.
First, Jesus told the parable of the 10 virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom. Five of them were prepared with oil in their lamps so that they could light their lamps and directly go to meet the bridegroom at a moment’s notice while the other five needed to go and buy oil so that they could go to meet the bridgegroom.
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’Matthew 25:7-9
So the lesson is clear: We need to have prepared and be in a position of readiness for Christ’s return. We need to have not only repented and believed in Christ, but we should be living a life by the Spirit, producing fruit for him. We shouldn’t imagine that we can live our lives in any way that we want, and then at the last moment we try to “get right with God” in some way. Christ will return unexpectedly for those who are not expecting him, but for those who are prepared, watching and waiting, they will be able to enter.
Next, Jesus told a parable of the master who left his servants in charge of his property, giving them each a certain amount of gold that they should utilize on behalf of the master. To one he gave five bags, to another two bags, and to the third, one bag. Jesus said that the master had given these according to their abilities.
When the master returned, the servants who had given the master a return for the five bags and the two bags were the ones whom the master rewarded while the one with one bag did nothing with it except bury it in the ground. His gold was taken from him and given to the first servant who had earned the most and is then put outside.
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.’Matthew 25:29-30
Again, the lesson is clear. Jesus expects us to be at work for him, to be doing what he has called us to do. What is the work that he expects of us? What is it that he has called us to do? Jesus said that we should produce fruit in keeping with repentance and we should make disciples. In other words, we become disciples of Christ, and we make other disciples of Christ. This is the work that he has called us to do.
And finally, Jesus says that when he comes, there will be a separation, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Specifically, he speaks about the mercy that people have had upon others:
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 King – Jesus – is calling those who have been blessed by his Father. God is the Father and he has blessed the people with grace and mercy, blessed them to be able to know Jesus, blessed them to be able to enter into the Kingdom of God. They have provided for those who thirsted, or needed clothes, or were sick, or were in prison. In other words, they helped those who were in need, and so they were rewarded by the King because they did these things for others and Jesus counted it as the same as doing it for him.
Jesus started his teaching by saying that this is what will happpen in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is how it will be. And these are the same things that we see even today. Jesus hasn’t returned yet, but God could decide at any moment that now is the time, so we should ask ourselves:
Are we prepared with “oil in our lamps”? Are we living for Christ now?
Are we bringing a return for our master? Have we invested what we have been given and giving Him a return?
Are we showing mercy and helping to provide for others who are in need?
Jesus is speaking specifically about the time that we find ourselves in now. May we learn from the lessons that he taught so that we may be found ready to enter into the Kingdom!