by Dr. Samuel Lee   05/06/2000     0 reads



Matthew 25:1-46

Key Verses: 25:31,32

  "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels

with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All

the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate

the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep

from the goats."


1.  Read verses 1-13. To what did Jesus compare the kingdom of heaven?

  Who is the bridegroom? How did five virgins show their wisdom? Why

 were five virgins called foolish? What does the oil represent? What

  can't we borrow or lend?

2.  Read verses 14-23. Who is the man going on a journey? What did he

  give his servants before leaving? What did the first two servants

  do?  When the master returned, what did they report? How did he com

  mend and reward them? Why?

3.  Read verses 24-30. What did the third servant report to his master

  upon his return? What excuse did he give? How did the master rebuke

  and punish him? What does this parable teach about God and the

  mission he gives his servants?

4.  Read verses 31-40. What will Jesus do when he comes again? How does

  he reward his sheep? Why was he pleased with them? Why were they

  surprised? What can we learn here about how to live as a child of


5.  Read verses 41-46. How did he rebuke and punish the "goats"? Why

  were they surprised? What does he teach about every person's

  opportunity to serve the King? (Compare Ro 2:6-8) What can we learn

  here about heaven and hell?




Matthew 25:1-46

Key Verses: 25:31,32

  "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels

with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All

the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate

the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep

from the goats."

Chapter 25 consists of three very beautiful parables: the ten

virgins (1-13), the talents (14-30), and the sheep and the goats

(31-46). These parables tell us that we must have a basic attitude as

Jesus' people when we expect to enter the kingdom of God. We also must

live a faithful life as we wait for the Second Coming of Jesus. In this

chapter we especially learn what Jesus will do when he comes again.

First, the five foolish virgins (1-13). As we have studied, the kingdom

of God is the central theme of Matthew's Gospel, and it is repeated

here again. Look at verse 1. "At that time the kingdom of heaven will

be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the

bridegroom." This verse implies that those who hope to enter the

kingdom of God should be like pure virgin brides who are waiting for

the coming of the bridegroom. According to Jewish custom, the

bridegroom would come to the bride to have a wedding ceremony after a

one-year period of engagement. The bridegroom would be accompanied by

many friends and relatives when he comes to get married.

The bride also would invite many of her friends to be her

bridesmaids.  The bride would put on makeup and dress up like a

princess, and the others would be her attendants. As a custom, the

bride and her attendants would come out on the road and play musical

instruments or dance merrily until the bridegroom and his company would

arrive. In ancient times, transportation was not so convenient; so the

bridegroom's coming would frequently be delayed. The bride and her

bridesmaids had to wait until the bridegroom and his company arrived.

Look at verse 2. "Five of them were foolish and five were wise."

The foolish virgins took their lamps but did not take any oil with them

(3). The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became

drowsy and fell asleep (5). Look at verse 6. "At midnight the cry rang

out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'" 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" (7-9). The foolish

virgins should have gone to the gas station and bought oil beforehand.

But they did not because they were lazy. While the foolish virgins were

on their way to the gas station, the bridegroom arrived, and the

virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet.  And

the door was shut. Later, the foolish virgins came back from the gas

station and knocked at the gate, saying, "Sir! Sir! Open the door for

us!" He replied, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you" (10-12).

Usually, a virgin bride has an inherent joy to prepare many

things--everything--for the day of her wedding. All virgin brides are

joyful and very diligent to prepare for their happy weddings. None of

them are lazy. It is unbelievable that the five of them were so lazy

that they did not prepare oil beforehand. We cannot deny that the

foolish virgins' problem was that they were lazy. These lazy women

thought they were the smartest. But they were foolish women. These

foolish women could not get into the wedding banquet. There was a girl

student who wanted to get a Ph.D. and become a scientist like Newton.

Her idealism was good. But she was overcome by laziness. When she was

overcome by laziness, she was overwhelmed by lustful desires. From then

on, she lived a loose life. Later, she became a factory girl instead of

a scientist. Smart people calculate again and again; finally they come

to the conclusion, "Well, I am going to invest the least and get the

most benefit." There is a danger for smart people to become lazy. The

foolish virgins represent lazy people.  Laziness is not a light matter.

The five foolish virgins were lazy, and their laziness disqualified

them from the happy wedding banquet. Verse 13 says, "Therefore keep

watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

Second, the five wise virgins (4,10). Look at verse 4. "The wise,

however, took oil in jars along with their lamps." They were diligent.

When they were tired and sleepy, they overcame themselves and went to

the gas station to get some extra oil. To be diligent seems to be easy.

But it is not. It requires a diligent mind. Here, preparing oil is to

prepare to wait for the bridegroom's coming. This is comparable to our

lives of faith. The life of faith requires faithfulness. Faithful

people lose a lot to remain faithful. To worldly people, such people

look weird. But to God they are faithful people. God is happy to give

his kingdom to those faithful people. There are certain things we can

borrow from others. We can borrow others' bicycles or pencils. But

there are certain things we cannot borrow, such as another person's

noble character or faithfulness. Therefore we must ask God, so that he

may help us to be faithful.

Third, wise managers (14-22). Jesus again teaches how to be a member of

the kingdom of God. Look at verses 14,15. "Again, it will be like a man

going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property

to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents,

and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went

on his journey." Here we learn that God has given each of us talents

according to our own ability. We also learn that we have to work hard

with the talents given us by God. The man who had received the five

talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more

(16). Also, the one with two talents gained two more (17). It is not

easy to know how to put our money to work. If we knew how to put our

money to work, we would all be millionaires. It is not easy to teach

someone how to put his money to work. But we can learn from the one who

had received five talents how to put our money to work. The man who had

received the five talents acknowledged that he had been entrusted with

his master's talents. When he had this realization, God made him a man

of mission, a man of faithfulness and a man of wisdom, who figured out

how to put his money to work until he made 100% profit for his master.

It was the same for the one who received the two talents. God helps

those who help themselves. What happened to them? They experienced the

joy that comes from success and achievement. They experienced the joy

that comes from faithfulness. So, with great joy, they exclaimed,

"Master, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five

more" (20). "Master, you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have

gained two more" (22). This tells us that God gives great joy along

with the crown of life to those who are faithful to God.

Fourth, God's reward for his faithful servants (19-23). After a long

time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with

them (19). The one who gained five more said, "Master, you entrusted me

with five talents.  See, I have gained five more" (20). What did the

master say? Look at verse 21. "His master replied, 'Well done, good and

faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put

you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'"

First of all, faithful servants receive God's recognition. To all

mankind, the problem of recognition is not a small matter. Many young

people want recognition. They want recognition as a bright person or a

good athlete. But these kinds of recognition cannot satisfy our souls.

When we are recognized as faithful persons by God it is indeed

glorious. There is no recognition better than being called a faithful

person. When we are recognized by God as faithful people, our souls

rejoice. Mary the mother of Jesus praised God when she was recognized

by God, saying, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in

God my Savior" (Lk 1:46b,47). When one is recognized by God, he can

recognize himself, and as a result, his soul rejoices.

When we are faithful to God, there is another reward. Look at

verse 21b. "I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share

your master's happiness!" When we are faithful to God to the point of

death, God does not give us a vacation to Florida. God exalts us with

greater tasks and greater responsibilities. In other words, God makes

us great. God also makes us happy. Happiness does not come from the

things of the world. It comes from God. When God makes us happy we are

indeed happy.

Fifth, a foolish manager (24-30). Let's see what happened to the man

who had received the one talent. He said, "You are a hard and able man.

So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See,

here is what belongs to you" (24, 25). When the servant who had

received the one talent thought about his master, that he was a hard

man, he was afraid. He dug a hole in the ground and hid his talent.

What did the master do with him? Look at verse 26. "His master

replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where

I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?'" His

master rebuked him, saying, "Wicked and lazy servant!" In the Bible we

can scarcely find synonyms repeated in order to emphasize something.

But Jesus rebukes wicked people, saying, "You wicked, lazy servant!"

Here we learn that lazy people are wicked people. Lazy people are

selfish people. Lazy people are unfaithful people. Lazy people are

arrogant people. Still they say to themselves, "Hmm, I am the smartest

guy in the world." But verse 30 says, "And throw that worthless servant

outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of

teeth." Finally, lazy people receive great punishment.

Sixth, our King Jesus separates the sheep and the goats (31-33). Look

at verses 31,32. "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the

angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the

nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people

one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats."

These days most people think of Jesus as a nobody. But he will come

again to judge all people and all nations. When Jesus comes to this

world again, first he will separate the sheep from the goats. Until

now, many brutal people pretended to be God's people, covering

themselves with sheepskins. But when Jesus comes again, he will uncover

them and separate the sheep from the goats. Here, "sheep" refers to

God's children, and "goats" to hypocrites. Human beings are basically

all hypocrites because of their fallen nature. So the King Jesus judges

man's motives and purpose of life (Ro 2:6-9). These days most people

hate Jesus by hating his people. But when Jesus comes again, they must

stand before him to be judged by him. His judgment will be severe

indeed. When they are judged, they have to gnash their teeth in the

darkness forever (30).

Seventh, our King Jesus gives his kingdom to his people (34-40). Look

at verse 34. "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.'" Verses 35,36 read,

"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." The King Jesus does not

ignore those who helped the helpless while living in this hard world.

The King Jesus regards their good works done for the helpless as done

for himself personally.

What did they say in response to the king's verdict? Look at

verses 37-39. "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did

we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to

drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing

clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to

visit you?'" They were surprised by the king's good verdict for them.

They never thought they were helping others. They never thought they

were helping Christ and thus piling up eternal reward. They helped the

helpless simply because they loved God from their hearts. They simply

gave hungry men meals because they loved God. They simply welcomed

strangers because they loved God. They simply visited the sick to

comfort them because they loved God. Here we learn that when we love

God, we can love our neighbor.

When we have God in our hearts, God gives us happiness. What is

the secret of happiness? The secret of happiness is to have God in

one's heart.  There is a story about a centurion (Mt 8:5-13). Roman

officers were known to be proud, straightforward and merciless. But

this centurion was different.  One morning he saw that his young

servant was very sick. The servant's eyes looked pointless, and his

lips, dried. Then the centurion threw away his briefcase and went to

the Jewish rulers. He persuaded them to ask Jesus to come and heal his

servant. The centurion could do this because he loved God and he loved

his neighbor.

They say that once, St. Francis of Assisi met a leper, loathsome

and repulsive in the ugliness of his leprosy. St. Francis dismounted

and flung his arms around this wretched man. A few seconds later he

found that the face of the leper in his arms changed to the face of

Christ. St. Francis did this because he loved God. Abraham rescued Lot

at the expense of his wealth when Lot became a war prisoner, even

though Lot had betrayed his love and care (Ge 14). To human eyes,

Abraham was foolish. However, he could not stop himself, but rescued

Lot at any cost. How could Abraham do this? It was because he loved


On the other hand, King Jesus punishes selfish people (41-46).

What is the verdict for those whose inner motive is selfish? Look at

verse 41.  "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you

who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his

angels.'" They will be cast into eternal punishment because they lived

a selfish life. They never gave food to the hungry (42). They never

gave water to the thirsty. They never welcomed strangers into their

apartments (43). Instead, they used all their money to please their

stomachs. Selfish people usually want to get something from others.

They have no idea to give something to others. Selfish people become

arrogant after getting all the benefits from God. These days secular

humanists propagate the idea of living a selfish life. They lead others

to eternal destruction.

In this chapter we learn that we must live a life of faith while

we are waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus. We must be like the five

wise virgins. We must learn how to put money to work for the glory of

God. We must believe that we inherit the kingdom of God when we believe

in Jesus.