The 10 virgins
Jewish weddings went on a long time, a week or more. There’s no set time for the bridegroom to come to the bride’s house for the feast. The virgins wait to escort him in. Once he arrives the door is locked and there is no further access. So in the parable Jesus is the bridegroom. He will come one day, we don’t know when, to take his bride (the church) and celebrate the marriage supper. Jesus is hoping for good things of the Church!
There are three surprises here:
1 The girls all looked the same but were not. Half were ready and half weren’t. The second half missed out. It is easy to be in the church in Christian company and yet be a stranger to the Lord and the Spirit. It’s possible to have a lamp that looks good, but has no oil in it. Jesus would say ‘I never knew you’ – that is a surprise to churchgoers in Matthew’s day and in ours.
2 There are some things you just cannot borrow. You have to have them for yourself and not rely on others. Faith is one of them.
3 There are times when it is too late. The job has been lost, the divorce has come through, the exam is today and you haven’t revised. Be ready!
Be ready for Jesus to return. Trust Jesus for forgiveness and His leadership.
Be watchful and close to God.
Living in the light of salvation
Jesus told the two parables in this passage to teach us about how God wants us to live in the light of our salvation. We receive this salvation through God’s grace, not by what we do – we cannot earn it!
We see in the first parable that although the third servant in the parable didn’t steal, waste or lose the money, he didn’t do anything productive with what God had given him.
In the Quest NIV Bible’s commentary, it says, “Each believer has a role to fulfil in the advancement of the kingdom of God and has been spiritually gifted to fulfil that role”. So God has given all of us “bags of gold”, i.e. talents and gifts. We need to use these gifts or we will waste them, like the third servant.
The first and second servants both used what had been personally given to them and produced results according to the gifts and abilities God had given them. The master in the story didn’t compare them and say that the one who produced more gold was better; he called them both, “Good and faithful servants.” and told them that they would share in his happiness, and that he would entrust more to both of them. God calls us to do things according to the abilities and gifts that He has given us. God does not compare us because He has given us different abilities and different opportunities in which to use them. Too often, however, we compare ourselves with others and end up feeling rubbish and useless – this is not what God does! He simply wants us to be faithful and use what He has given us.
Jesus then tells the second parable. It similarly shows that when Jesus returns He will sort the “sheep” from the “goats”. Those “sheep” who have lived their lives the way God wants them to by using the gifts He has given them and helping those in need are called “blessed”. But those “goats” who ignore the needs of others, He calls “cursed”. God has shown immense and immeasurable love to us and it is because of this love that we are able to love others. It says in 1 John 3:17 – “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need, but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” Therefore, as we have received God’s love, we need to show love to others in whatever ways we are able according to what God has given us.
This is both a challenging and encouraging passage. It reminds of the importance of showing God’s love to everyone wherever we go through what He has given us – which is so much! When we use what God has given us He is pleased with us and it brings Him joy. Verse 21 says – “come and share in your master’s happiness”.
What better reason to help others than to bring joy to our Heavenly Father who loves us and has blessed us with so much.