The first two parables in Matthew 25 were preludes to something much greater, and both parables taught us a few things, but the basics were this…
The parable of the ten virgins was never about the ten virgins, the lamp or the journey. It wasn’t even about the bridegroom. Furthermore, the parable of the three slaves was never about the slaves, nor was it about the master or the physical work the slaves did.
Regarding both parables, we see that the message Jesus preached was about two things of far greater value than physical works or abilities. Those two things are Faith and the Gospel of Jesus and what Jesus and the Father accomplished through the cross.
To sum it up, Jesus was conveying that the Oil from the first parable was significantly more important than anything else. The reason is because the Oil is the faith that lights our lamps, and the lamp is the message of the gospel that brings light into the world; therefore, when combined together, faith and the gospel will lead humans out of the darkness of sin and continue to provide much needed light in our lives while we journey to meet Jesus (the bridegroom) upon His return.
As for the second parable, the Coin…or talent…was more important than anything else in that parable because the Coin is the Gospel of Jesus that we have been entrusted with. We are required by God (the Master) to invest the gospel in other humans around the world. Furthermore, the investment of the gospel must be done so in faith, and by doing so, that investment will reap dividends for the kingdom of God.
Consequently, it would be unwise for anyone to think that the first two parables were only for a specific group of people, because the message of each parable is clearly meant for everyone who walks this earth at any point in history.
That being said, both of those parables are segues into the most mis-interpreted passage of scripture in the entire bible . . . That passage being Matthew 25 verses 31 thru 46.
And as we work through this passage, my prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit will guide you into all understanding and knowledge of God’s word, and you may realize just how important the gospel message really is.
So, without further hesitation, let’s read Matthew 25 starting in verse 31. . .
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 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; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-46
After reading that passage nearly 100% of you will immediately start thinking about all the times you helped someone by committing some or all of the “good works” Jesus mentions.
Some of you will think back to a time when you gave water, food and/or clothing to someone in need. Perhaps, you’ll reminisce over the time you visited and cared for someone who was sick or in prison, and you might even think about the times you welcomed a stranger into your home.
And as you consider those acts of kindness, you might experience a feeling of confidence, peace or assurance that you have accomplished what was required of you. You might also believe that you are in good standing with God because you did all those “good works”.
Some of you might believe you have done so many “good works” that you have gained the ability to stand on Jesus’ right-hand side, because, after all . . . those on Jesus’ right-hand side are welcomed into His kingdom and blessed of His Father, while those on His left are condemned to the eternal lake of fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels.
However, I’d like to ask. . .have you ever noticed verse 44 where “they themselves” on the left-hand side of Jesus respond to the King and ask, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?”
Now that I’ve pointed that out, I’d like to ask a follow-up question as well…. Have you ever considered that those gathered on the King’s left-hand side actually have given food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, visited the sick and those in prison, and welcomed a stranger in?
I’m pretty sure everyone can think of someone on earth who we believe is condemned to the eternal lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels, who HAS been compassionate to others in need at some point in their lives. I can honestly think of a few people, and I’m sure you can too.
Therefore, since those on Jesus’ left actually have done the same “good works” as those on Jesus’ right, but Jesus says they didn’t . . . does that make Jesus a liar? Furthermore, are those on Jesus’ left not justified when they ask: “…when did we not take care of you?”
Well…to answer the first question . . . NO! Jesus is not a liar, and we’ll see why as we work through the passage, furthermore, I’m pretty confident that a number of you will say that the reason Jesus says to those on His left that they didn’t do those “good works” is because those people didn’t have the right “heart of worship” towards God. Maybe they did the “good works” out of selfishness, pride or greed.
Others of you might conclude that what Jesus is trying to imply is a situation similar to the story of Cain and Abel where Cain, being jealous and bitter, let his attitude get the best of him and those on Jesus’ left were in the same boat.
But . . . that rationale is based on the premise that this message is about doing the literal physical action of giving food to the hungry…water to thirsty…clothing to the naked…visiting the sick or in prison…and welcoming a stranger in.
And while all those things sound plausible…they do not accurately identify the truth about this message, because Jesus is not talking about the literal physical actions.
That might surprise you, but the honest truth is that Jesus IS NOT talking about physical works here.
Therefore, if Jesus is not talking about the literal “physical actions” or “works”, then what is He saying?
To answer that question only scripture can tell us what we need to know.
So, let’s start by reading John chapter four (4) . . .starting in verse seven (7) . . .
Here, we see Jesus meeting with a woman at the well who is about to draw water. . .
7 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus *said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Therefore the Samaritan woman *said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 She *said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? 12 You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
The point here is that Jesus is the Living Water!
Now turn to John chapter 6 . . .
In the beginning of this chapter, Jesus feeds 5000 with a couple fishes and a few loaves; then He walks on water and when we get to verse 26, we read. . .
26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”
34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst…”
The point here is that Jesus is the Bread of life!
Now, turn to Luke chapter 4. . .and let’s focus on verses 18 & 19
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
Let’s also look at Psalm 102…verses 18 – 22 . . . specifically . . . look at verse 20. . .
18 This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.
19 For He looked down from His holy height; from heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth,
20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner, to set free those who were doomed to death,
21 That men may tell of the name of the Lord in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem,
22 When the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.
The point here . . . Jesus Sets the Prisoner Free!
Thus far scripture has told us that Jesus is the Living Water, the Bread of Life, and that He sets the prisoner free. . . Are you seeing the correlation with Matthew 25 yet? If not, let’s take a look at a few other verses.
Turn to Luke chapter 8 and let’s look at verses 40-48. . . (notice specifically 43-48. . .)
40 And as Jesus returned, the people welcomed Him, for they had all been waiting for Him.
41 And there came a man named Jairus, and he was an official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus’ feet and began to implore Him to come to his house;
42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as Jesus went, the crowds were pressing against Him.
43 And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45 And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.” 47 When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
If that’s not enough, look at Matthew 4:23 & 24
23 Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
24 The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.
And if you need more evidence, read these passages: Matthew 8: 7-13 as well as Matthew chapters nine, ten, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, nineteen & twenty-one!
The point here is that every single chapter reveals that . . . Jesus Heals the Sick!
So, we’ve covered the Bread of Life…the Living Water…Setting the Prisoner Free and Healing the Sick . . . but what about putting clothing on the naked. Where is that in the bible?
Turn to Luke chapter 8. . . let’s begin reading in verse 26 . . .
26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs.
28 Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.” 29 For Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.
30 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss.
32 Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And Jesus gave them permission. 33 And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. 35 The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened. 36 Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. 37 And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned. 38 But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
Jesus . . . IS the Living Water…Jesus IS the Bread of Life! Jesus Sets the Prisoner Free! Jesus Heals the Sick . . . Jesus. . .The Son of God. . . Puts Clothing ON the Naked!
Is this making sense yet?
But we’re not finished quite yet. . .We still have one more.
Is there any place in scripture where Jesus welcomes a stranger in?
Turn to Ephesians chapter two (2). . .
Starting in verse 11 . . .
Therefore, remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands — remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you, who formerly were far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
So then . . . you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
The point here. . . JESUS! Welcomes! The Stranger! IN !!!!
JESUS! IS … The Living Water!
JESUS! IS … The Bread of Life!
JESUS! Sets the Prisoner Free!
JESUS! Heals the Sick!
JESUS! Puts Clothing On the Naked!
JESUS! Welcomes the stranger in!
Now, after reading those passages and looking back at Matthew 25, can you see what Jesus is really talking about here?
It’s NOT and NEVER has been about literal physical actions. The message in the entire passage of Matthew 25 has always been about the saving grace of Jesus.
When I was hungry, you gave Me nothing to eat – They NEVER provided the Bread of Life.
When I was thirsty, you gave Me nothing to drink; – They NEVER provided the Living Water.
When I was naked, you didn’t clothe Me; – They NEVER shared the salvation of Jesus to someone who was dead in their sins.
When I was sick or in prison, and you didn’t visit Me; – They NEVER shared the healing power of Jesus who can heals the sick and free the prisoner from their sins.
When I was a stranger, you did not invite Me in; – They NEVER shared the message of how Jesus can make you fellow citizens in a Kingdom far greater than this world will ever know.
Therefore, when Jesus condemns those on His left-hand side to the eternal lake of fire, He is justified in that condemnation. Because even though they might have performed the literal physical actions of taking care of someone in need, they NEVER satisfied the most important need in a person’s life.
The need for eternal salvation and the saving of their soul through the gospel message of what Jesus and the Father accomplished by dying on the cross and defeating death through the resurrection of Jesus from the grave!
There are millions and millions of people among us who are extremely thirsty and hungry for the truth of God’s word, and if you have the opportunity to give them living water and the bread of life… DO IT!
On the same token, there are just as many people or more who are suffering in the sickness and bondage of sin, and if you have the opportunity to give them healing and freedom by telling them about the one man, Jesus, who can heal or free them… DO IT!
There are millions of people among us who have lost everything, including their spiritual clothing. They are destitute, depressed and hopeless. They have lost everything emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally; and if you have the opportunity to clothe them with the truth of Jesus, His love, His compassion, His grace, His mercy… DO IT!!!
And finally…we cannot forget that there are people among us who are strangers to the covenants of promise. They are currently excluded from God’s household because they are dead in their trespasses and sins; and if you have the opportunity to share the message of Jesus who will welcome them into His Father’s kingdom and make them citizens and heirs to a glorious family… DO IT!!!
Don’t hesitate. Don’t wait. Don’t end up like those on the left-hand side of Jesus who are rejected because they refused to share the message of the gospel of God; but instead chose to encourage others to look for alternatives for their pain and misery…drugs, alcohol, government, sex, pride, selfishness, hate and so many other human rituals that never bring relief.
Don’t be misled by thinking that literally doing “good works” will somehow be enough to save you in the end, because you will find out that on the day of judgement there are no excuses, and Jesus will be justified when He says: “…I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”
Conversely, those on the right-hand side of Jesus are rewarded because of their faithfulness in sharing the gospel of Jesus with others. If you notice, Jesus even refers to them as “blessed of My Father” (vs34) and “brothers of Mine” (vs40).
The reason they receive those blessings is because they were faithful when they invested the gospel of Jesus into other people.
They might not have understood what they were doing at the time, but in the end they find out that they gave living water and bread of life to someone thirsty and hungry for the truth of God.
They provided people who were suffering in the sickness and bondage of their sins by leading them to the only One who could heal them and set them free. Jesus
They put the clothing of Jesus on those who were lost, naked, destitute, hopeless.
And they welcomed in people who were strangers to the covenants of promise by telling them about the work of Jesus and God the Father on the cross.
It was never about the literal physical actions. It was always about Jesus.
I know many of you reading this might think that I’m trying to diminish helping people in need, but that isn’t true. I firmly believe that we need to provide for others, and that our outward actions will indicate whether or not there is love and compassion and mercy in our hearts. And remember, James 2 is very clear that Faith without works, is dead.
So, I am not trying to diminish helping people.
Also, a few of you reading this might look at Revelation 20:12 or Ephesians 2:10 and say that good deeds or good works are more important than sharing the gospel. Some of you might also look at other passages of scripture that relate to “good works” and try to refute what has been written here . . .
However, based on what Jesus has taught us through His message in Matthew chapter 25, it is misguided for anyone to believe that physical acts of kindness, no matter how few or how many, will ever outweigh the importance of sharing the gospel of Jesus with the world. Furthermore, it is vital that we understand just how meaningless those physical acts of kindness will be on the day of judgement.
Accordingly, on that day of judgement, there will be no excuse for anyone.
You either listened to the gospel of Jesus when it was preached to you, and you accepted God’s plan for salvation…or you didn’t.
Jesus is the ONLY hope of salvation and the ONLY way to eternal life. Jesus is the ONLY way back to God the Father, and God has given us that gospel message of His Son so we might invest it in others so God will reap the dividends.
In closing, we have all heard the message of Jesus. God has men and women preach it from the one end of the earth to the other. That message is the gospel of Jesus…that we are all sinners in the eyes of God. Fallen. Without God. Without hope. condemned to death…separate from God forever.
But God, being rich in grace and mercy, being a God who loves humanity, sent His only Son to die on a cross to pay the price for our sins.
Not by the work of humans…so that no one can boast…GOD DID THE WORK and paid the penalty for our disobedience. And He did it, so we could be reconciled back unto Himself.
Therefore, ALL who believe in Jesus as the Son of God…conceived of by the Holy Spirit of God. . .born of a virgin. . . living a pure, sin-free life on this earth . . .then dying on a cross at the hands of sinful men . . . and being raised back to life by God the Father…. ALL who believe by Faith, will be welcomed into God’s glorious family and live eternally with Him.
That gospel message is the coin that needs to be invested and the oil that we need to put into our lamps to light the path in this dark world, and we need to share it. . . not bury it.
If you are interested to learn more about the gospel, please click on one of these links:
“Without Excuse” – https://www.parksidechurch.com/learn/resources/media-center/sermon/without-excuse/
Alistair Begg – Parkside Church Cleveland, Ohio
“The Gospel of Jesus” – https://www.lwf.org/what-is-a-christian/what-is-the-gospel-of-jesus-christ
Love Worth Finding
“The Gospel of Jesus Made Simple” – https://www.thenarrowwaychristianministry.com/single-post/the-gospel-made-simple
The Narrow Way Christian Ministry