These passages have shaken me to the core. They are chilling and alarming, with an urgent warning. As we have been reading more into the prophetic books of Isaiah, Joel, Amos, and Micah, there is more and more pointing to the Savior’s birth and the unveiling of His redemption story and return. The scriptures are sometimes difficult to understand and interpret especially when looking at just a line or two. But Jesus was very specific in Matthew 25. These were the final parables he spoke before the wheels started turning in the plot for His murder.
Anytime Jesus speaks it is obviously important but as some of his last teachings and words to his friends, my ears perk up a little more and I pay even closer attention. As I said, these final parables have shaken me. All three are speaking of that final day, the judgment day that lies ahead for all of creation. Reading this made me pause and evaluate my own life and faith.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on this left. Then the King will say to those on his right, Come you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you cursed, I into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Though some parables may be confusing, I believe these three were quite clear. There will be people on that final judgment day who thought they were one of Christ’s brothers or sisters. They will be confused when they hear those chilling words, “Depart from me”. These parables seem to infer that there is something for the believer to DO to have eternal life. But in Matthew 25:34 Jesus says to the sheep on His right that their inheritance was prepared for them “from the foundation of the world”. It didn’t come from good works or how many people they won to Christ. The sheep were confused when the Lord said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food……..” They asked, “When did we feed you, Lord?” As true believers in the faith and disciples of Jesus Christ, our actions are fueled by the Holy Spirit and “planned in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10) just as our hope and security for eternal life is prepared in advance.
So how do we know if we are a sheep or the goat, the wise virgin or the foolish? How can we rest assured that we will hear those words, “Come, you who are blessed”? What is the preparation needed to be ready so that we do not have to go and buy more oil? I believe these passages are simply referring to faith alone, by grace alone, through Christ alone-before it’s too late. There is no magic wording to be saved, no magic prayer or a laundry list of things to do before Christ returns. It is simply God, regenerating our hearts so that we my come to faith in Christ (by his grace). These passages remind us there is a time limit. Whether it’s this afternoon while we are driving home for work, when we are old and frail or whether we hear the trumpet sound calling all Christians home, there is a time limit. Once that time is up, there are no second chances. No time to get more oil, earn more money or do great things.
“Watch, therefore for you know neither the day nor the hour.”- Jesus