Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Matthew 25

July 10th, 2011 by Vic

July 10, 2011

Matthew 25

“Attitudes about the Second Coming”

 

Last week in chapter 24 Jesus was trying to help the disciples understand the Second Coming.  They had asked about the destruction of the Temple and when Jesus was going to set up His kingdom. Jesus said only God knows that, but it is important to be faithful and expectant until then.  Your attitude about the 2nd Coming is very important.

 

In 24:45-51 Jesus told a parable about a faithful servant and a wicked servant.  The master went away and left these 2 servants in charge of his household.  The master returned before they expected him.  The servant with the bad attitude was condemned.

 

In today’s chapter Jesus tells 3 parables with similar themes.  He begins with a story of 10 bridesmaids who were invited to be part of a wedding banquet.  5 were called wise and 5 were called foolish.  All 10 came with lamps.  All 10 became drowsy and went to sleep.  The bridegroom came later than they expected.

25:1-13

The difference between the wise and the foolish bridesmaids was their attitudes and preparation.  The wise had thought ahead enough to consider the eventuality of a delay.  The foolish did not have the foresight.  They had the arrogant attitudes of assuming they could talk themselves out of trouble.  The wise make sure they are prepared for any eventuality.  The foolish don’t think about future consequences of their immediate decisions.  Deferred gratification is not the American way.

 

The bridegroom’s delayed coming distinguishes the wise from the foolish.  The wise are prepared for delay, but their preparation cannot benefit the foolish.  Some things cannot be shared or borrowed.

 

The lamp or torch was like our wedding gift.  Without a gift, you were a party crasher.  After the ceremony started, no one else was allowed to enter.

 

There is no fault attached with falling asleep, but there are serious consequences if your sleep causes you to be unprepared for the bridegroom.  Once the bridegroom comes, there is no optional entrance into heaven.  There is only one way.  After the door is shut destiny is determined.  Your heart attitude has determined your eternal destiny.  No matter how religious you look, you must make preparation for His coming.  The wise do all within their power to be prepared.  The foolish are only thinking of the party.

 

The focus of this parable is to stay prepared for His return.  Keep an attitude of expectancy.  Be pregnant with the hope that is in you.  You cannot borrow/adopt someone else’s faith.  Make sure you are prepared with an expectant attitude and a pure heart.  Make sure there is no bitterness, anger, envy, strife, or any other sin that puts out your light.  Unpreparedness brings tragic consequences.

 

Jesus may come sooner than some expect and later than some expect.  Therefore, keep watch.

 

25:14-30

This parable teaches that Jesus is going away on a long journey.  He will entrust His disciples, with great resources, maybe all His possessions.  There will come a day of reckoning.  This parable focuses on the disciple’s responsibility, their work ethic, or their conduct while the Master is away.  Jesus gives us everything we need for life and godliness including one another.  We are to be faithful servants.  Whether Jesus comes sooner or later we must be prepared and be faithful in the routines.

 

The servants all receive talents.  We do not know if they were gold talents, or silver talents.  A talent was a measure of weight.  The estimates range from $1,000 to $1,000,000 and from a years salary to 25 years salary.  It was a significant amount of money.  In this parable, the talent represents opportunities to do good.  Some say the talent is a spiritual gift; others have said it is the Holy Spirit.  When we receive spiritual gifts, they are ours to develop and use for God’s glory.  The talent in this story does not belong to the servant.  It always belongs to the Master.  Jesus said to whom much is given, much is required.  The talent we receive is the opportunity to use our talents (gifts) that we received when we became a Christian.  In the English language, there is an overlap of meaning.

 

The wicked and lazy slave represents harmless religious people.  He did not really know his Master.  He had no love for his Master.  He had no joy in serving his master.  The attitude of this lazy slave is similar to the goat attitude in the next parable.  He felt no compulsion to please the Master because he had no relationship with his Master.

 

Joy comes when we are compelled by love to serve God in the opportunities He gives us.

 

25:14  Jesus is the man about to go on a long journey.  Many were assuming that Christ would be on earth forever as the Messiah.  They were hoping that this was the time He would restore the kingdom of David.  Their expectations and preconceived ideas blinded them to the life and teachings of Jesus.  He is now in Jerusalem telling them this is the end of life as they have known it for a couple years, but not the final end.  He has to go away.  After His resurrection many faithful believers were hoping that Jesus would return and set up His kingdom before they died in the 1st Century.

 

25:15  All disciples are servants of Christ and have opportunities to do good.  Each servant receives what the Lord decides to give him.  Some receive more opportunities than others.  No two are the same.

 

This landowner was very generous and had a lot of faith in his servants.  In verses 21 & 23 he says they were faithful over little.  His little was over $1,000,000.  It illustrates for us the resources and generosity of God.  The owner was taking a big risk by not being more explicit with his instructions.  Think of the instructions you have to give your children when you are going out of the house for a few minutes.  I left the renters of our farm several pages of instructions.  This landowner is putting a lot of trust in these servants.

 

Watchfulness is not a life of ease but growing and developing the resources God has given us.

 

25:16  The one the Master expected the most from did not disappoint him.  Immediately he took off to invest.  He doubled the Master’s investment.  It does not say if he had any time to retire or take a cruise.  It does say that both the first two gave equal effort to their task.  They both worked as hard as they could.  The results were different, but the effort was the same.

 

25:17  They both wasted no time in getting to work.  Their activity indicated their attitude.  So it is with us.  What we take time to do, tells the world what we are.  What motivates us to do things tells us who we are.  You will get a clue to the kind of person you are by thinking about what motivates you.  What things do you forget to do and what do you remember?

 

25:18  The third servant did not do anything right away.  He decided to think about it a while.  He may have other things he wanted to do.  He was quite a talker.  It was easier to think up an excuse than it was to work.  “It was easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”  Do you resemble that remark?  He decided the landowner was gone so he was not going to work either.  He was cautious and frugal.  He was afraid of the landowner.  He did not know the Master very well.  He was not going to take any chances.  He did not want to risk failure.  He did not want to be ridiculed or suffer shame so he would play it safe.  Do you find it easier to come up with an excuse than to do what you ought to do?

 

25:19  Jesus is coming again.  But a period of time will elapse.  Testing is necessary.  All things belong to Him.  The talents are still His.  The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof and He will expect an accounting when He returns.  We also belong to the Lord.  These buildings and grounds are to be used for the Lord.  Maybe when you get to heaven, Jesus will play a video and remind you of every candy wrapper you dropped or picked up.  Maybe you will have to read all the notes you wrote in church.  He will expect an accounting of what you did and what you should have done.

 

25:20,22  The first 2 servants realized they had been given a trust.  The owner had trusted them and they gratefully reported with joy.  They were unequally successful, but equally faithful.  They were equally diligent.  They were equal in welcome and reward.  The joy of the Lord is the same for both.

 

25:21,23  Look what the owner told the first 2 servants.  Two things God requires of servants; goodness in character and faithfulness in service.  That is the same as James tells us.  “This is pure religion and undefiled to visit widows and orphans and keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

 

They were not commended for being clever, quick, talented, or industrious, only faithful in what they had been given.  Notice the reward.  If you want joy, real joy, use the skills you have for Jesus’ sake.

 

25:24  When we do not have pure motives in our hearts, it is interesting how we judge others.  “I knew you were a hard man.”  He did not really know the owner, but judged the owner by his own heart.  Actually the owner had sown very generously.  “You scattered no chaff.”  That is what the servants were expected to do.  “You didn’t get down and dirty.”

 

Our judgment of others indicates what is in our own heart.  The bottom line is that every sinner blames God for his sin.  Man is the only creature capable of deceiving himself into believing his rationalization and distortion of the facts and denying his own sin and responsibility.

 

25:25  “You made me so afraid I hid your talent.  It is your fault I did not find an opportunity to invest it.”  He did not look for opportunities because he did not want the additional responsibility.

 

25:26  The owner called him wicked and lazy.  Investment is hard work and this slave was not about to spend a lot of time investing his master’s money.  He had other things he wanted to do.  His own words convicted him.

 

25:27  It is the owner’s money.  It was just as important for the man with 1 talent to work as the man with 5 talents.  The complaint was not loss of money, but lack of faithfulness.  He did not do what he ought to have done.

 

25:28  The use that one makes of his opportunities is the measure of his capacity for more.

 

25:29-30  Worthless slave, useless, injurious.  Doing nothing is doing harm.  Wicked and lazy people are cast into hell.

 

Why is he punished?  What has he done?  Nothing!  What is the lesson for us?  We all have opportunities to do good for Jesus’ sake.  We all received gifts when we became a Christian.  We also are given opportunities to do good, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  He is very generous.

 

To please the Lord and receive His blessing and joy we must quit making excuses and take some risks.  The Lord risked all.  He risked all on the cross.  He is calling us out of our safe security, our safe creeds, rules and regulations.  There is no continuing joy without risk.  We may be laughed at, criticized, and maligned.  A good steward will have to risk making mistakes.  The opposite of good and faithful is wicked and lazy (25:26).  The final reward of harmless religious men is hell.  The reward of the faithful is more responsibility and joy.

 

We risk, not to gain God’s approval, but because we already have His approval.  He trusts us and we do not want to betray that trust.  We risk because He loves us.  We know He is very generous.  The risk is taken by the servant, but the benefit goes to the Lord.

 

25:31-46

The Bible suggests that there are 3 different judgments coming.  This parable is about the judgment of all people, including Jews and Gentiles regarding their treatment of Christians.  Jesus identifies us as “these brothers of mine”.  Some feel the brothers of Jesus are only Jews.  They say all men will be judged for how they treated the Jews.  I think Jesus brothers are all believers who have a need that other Christians can satisfy.   As we see need and opportunity we build one another up because our hearts have been changed to be like the heart of God.

 

The judgment is regarding attitudes that separate sheep from goats.  The sheep are the righteous who receive an inheritance of eternal life.  The goats are sent into the eternal fire with the devil and his angels for their eternal punishment.

 

The summary list of things that both sheep and goats were to do is the same: feed a hungry person, give something to drink to a thirsty person, give lodging to a homeless person, give clothes to the cold person, give care to a sick person, and visit a prisoner.  These are all basic needs.  These are not big projects and programs, but simple things.  These are the good works that God has prepared for you to do (Eph 2:10).

 

The heart of the issue is, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me…  Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”  There is an intimate bond that identifies Jesus with His disciples.

 

When the sheep had an opportunity to do good they did it, whether they knew the person or not.  When the goats had an opportunity to do good they chose not to show compassion unless it benefitted them or someone they knew.  They may have been looking for praise or publicity.

 

The sheep are surprised that they had helped Jesus.  The goats are surprised that they did not recognize Jesus.  Calculated compassion does not please God.

 

We are judged according to our reaction to human need.  Consistent mercy is characteristic of God’s children.  Failure to show mercy is consistent in the unbeliever.  We please God when we meet the needs of His children.  How do you make a parent happy?  Do something nice for their child.

 

The sheep have an honored position at the right hand of the Father even in judgment.  They are blessed by the Father with eternal life because their nature has been changed and they have to do good.  Their acts of mercy are not calculated, but compassionate.  Wouldn’t you like to be a sheep?

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