Is any decision we make truly trivial? Not really. Every decision bears either Christ’s righteousness or our unrighteousness.
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair;
When Jesus had given the Olivette Discourse, He told three parables about the coming of the kingdom of heaven (or, the kingdom of God; see Luke 19:11). Instead of quoting all of them, let’s look at the cruxes of the parables.
Matthew 25:1-13 The Parable of the Ten Virgins
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
Jesus was telling them to be prepared for the Messiah when He came to do what He came to do. The expectations of the people were not in line with what Jesus came to do, which was to be the Passover Lamb for them. The resulting consequence was that they were left out of the kingdom because they missed Jesus, their Messiah.
Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Bags of Gold
20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
25 I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant…28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The rewards and the consequences are according to the actions of the servants. The people of Israel had a choice: Believe in Jesus as Messiah and let Him free them from their chains of sin, or reject Him and stay in the chains of their sin. The consequence of sin is death and destruction. Within 40 years, Israel self-destructed. How could Jesus allow the scattering of Israel to the ends of the earth? What about the covenant God had with His people? That covenant was fulfilled in Jesus. In fact, the first covenant that was established with Abraham is still being fulfilled through all who believe in Jesus. Theirs is the true circumcision, the circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:28-29 and Galatians 6:15). What is it that whoever has it, more will be given? Faith. What is it that if a person doesn’t have it, even the little that may reside in him is taken from him? Faith. Faith in what? Faith that Jesus is who He says He is and that He did (and will do) what He said He would do.
Matthew 25:31-46 The Sheep and the Goats
The first thing we notice is that the heading doesn’t say the word, “parable.” The way this one is given is different than the other two and has the feel of reality–it may not be a parable at all! In fact, I believe that it is the answer and conclusion to the previous two parables. It is prophecy.
- Jesus referred to Himself in the story: The Son of Man.
- The people of all nations are referred to as sheep and goats, a comparison that the people of Jesus’ day would know well.
- The truth of verse 34 is enlightening because of the reference to the creation of the world. See Hebrews 4:3c-4.
- The answer to this prophecy is found in Isaiah 58:6-9. Jesus wasn’t just pulling examples out of thin air. He was tying His kingdom back to the Old Covenant and the standard of righteousness that God requires. We know that the only way to meet that standard is through faith in Christ. Read it for yourself:
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:20-24
The standard is high because the stakes are high. We must be clothed with Christ in order to stand in the presence of the Father (Matthew 22:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:53). The alternative is the lake of fire–that was not intended for anyone but Satan and his followers (verse 41). Verse 46 spells it out, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
The showdown had begun. The problem for the enemy is that they did not understand just exactly what was going down. More on that tomorrow…
Abba, these parables–and prophecy–teach me to consider the gravity of life’s decisions. None of my decisions are trivial in light of Your righteousness. May I learn to “be clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Romans 13:14)” in every area of my life. Keep working on me, Lord. You are the Potter; I am the clay. Amen.