Today’s readings.. (2 Samuel 10), (Jeremiah 14), (Matthew 25)

Today’s 25th chapter of Matthew contains 3 challenging parables, the Master’s final ones. Just 2 days later (26 v.2) he is arrested and the major purpose of his mortal life on earth unfolds.
The first parable highlights 5 virgins who were wise in taking “a flask of oil with their lamps” [v.4], in case the bridegroom was long in coming they wanted to make sure they had enough, “for you know neither the day nor the hour” of his arrival [v.13].     We are inclined to think that oil indicates the need for sufficient faith to endure so that we can be sure to ‘see’ when it is plainly true to say, “Here is the bridegroom! Come out and meet him” [v.6].
We read in Ch, 24 v.13 that “the one who endures to the end will be saved” and if that is the end of our mortal life – we know that “the dead in Christ will rise first” [1 Thess.4 v.16] and will meet him.
The second parable is of servants being given various talents of money and the use (or non-use) the servants make of them; Those who “have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your Master,” [v.23] he tells them on his return.
The third parable is of the sheep and the goats, the sheep are told, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you …  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.  I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” [v.34-36]
The sheep are perplexed to understand when they did this!  The King answers, “Truly I say to you. as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (or sisters), you did it to me.’” [v.40]  The goats are told, “depart from me, you cursed …”[v.41], there is no future for them!  They ask the same question, “Lord when did we see thee… “ [v,44] They are condemned for being self-centred, like the one with the talent who did not put it to use, they had been pleased no doubt to be known as Christians, but had not really served their Master in any meaningful way.
The chapter ends, “and these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  It does not indicate eternal torture, it means their life is at an end, they go into “darkness” [v.30] and as they go, as was foretold of the Jewish leaders, “there will be weeping … when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.” [Luke 13 v.28]   Are you among the sheep or the goats?  There is no third choice!  Oh the inner joy of being among the sheep – both now – but even more – then to “enter into the joy of your Master.” [v.23]  Isn’t this the God-given purpose of our lives?

* Click verse text to see cross references.
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