Today’s Reading: Matthew 25
Leonard Ravenhill, one of my spiritual fathers, said: “Many pastors criticize me for taking the Gospel so seriously. But do they really think that on Judgment Day, Christ will chastise me, saying, ‘Leonard, you took Me too seriously’?”
This chapter makes us take eternity seriously. Jesus starts right away in verse one with, “God’s kingdom is like . . .” and then He tells three stories.
This chapter is made up of three parables on the kingdom of heaven. It is very simple to outline. In His first parable, He tells of the silly, or foolish, virgins. Then He tells about the parable of the talents. Finally, He shares the parable of the sheep and goats at the throne.
We can see similarities among the three. First, there are winners and losers. Everyone does not go to heaven. There is consequence for living a selfish life and there is reward for living a life sold out to Jesus. In parable 1, He called the winners the ready and the wise. In parable 2, He called them the faithful. And in parable #3, He called them the blessed (“of My Father”) or the righteous. The wise, the faithful, and the righteous. The losers were called the foolish, the wicked, and the accursed ones.
Second, no one is born a loser but a chooser. That means they all had opportunities to be on the right side, filled with oil, a prospering talent, or doing the right thing for the poor, imprisoned, and sick. Things were presented to them that would determine what they would do with their life.
Third, each of the losing groups had explanations, excuses, and desires to get freebies and not play by the rules. The coming of the Lord will be a time of separation, a time of evaluation, and a time of commendation.
Time of separation: all of them were virgins and looked alike.
Time of evaluation: we are held responsible for what we are given.
Time of commendation: everything we do for God does not go unnoticed.
Finally, the end result of the silly virgins, the one-talent man, and the goats was final. Finally is final. It is called “the door is shut,” outer darkness, going away into eternal punishment—a place for the devil and his angels.
Let me give you one quick lesson from each of the three:
Parable 1’s lesson: What is on the inside is not looked after. Though the outside resembles everyone else, it is the inside that makes all the difference.
Parable 2’s lesson: What we are given must produce.
Parable 3’s lesson: Jesus does not look like any of the pictures. Is He black, white, Hispanic? Jewish? None of the above. He is naked, a convict, and one who is hungry and thirsty.
Leonard Ravenhill said, “If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” And this is one of those sobering messages Jesus preached.