Matthew Challenge Day 25
For the 28 days of February, a bunch of us are reading through the 28 chapters of Matthew (1 chapter a day). The purpose is to learn more about the life & teachings of Jesus ... and how those should be impacting our lives. We are going to post a short devotional guide each day on this spot so you can get a little help thinking through each chapter. Day 25 starts below.
Matthew 25 (With some leftovers of Matthew 24)
We continue a teaching that Jesus shared with his disciples regarding their question(s) about the destruction of the temple & Jerusalem and the end of the age when Jesus returns. (They thought all of that was wrapped up together; Jesus separated the events.) In chapter 24 Jesus told them a lot would happen before the end—and they had a lot to do (like preaching the gospel to all the world)—but the end would not come without clear signs and warnings for those who followed him and knew God’s word. That was not true for the world at large which would be taken by surprise (24:37-41). So Jesus’ instruction for his followers was to “keep watch” like a homeowner protecting his home from a thief (24:42-44).
What follows in chapter 24 and through chapter 25 are four stores; three teach about living wisely from now until then and one is a story of judgement (“the separation of sheep from goats”).
24:45-51 tells of the difference between a “faithful & wise servant” and a “wicked servant” “whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household.” The good servant takes care of business and so the master takes care of him—“he will put him in charge of all his possessions.” The wicked servant, who mistreats those under his charge, will be caught off-guard by the master’s return and will be punished severely. He is described as being surprised; it was unexpected by him. His problem wasn’t that he was caught by surprise but that he was doing the wrong things in his master’s absence. He wasn’t a true servant.
In 25:1-13 Jesus talks about 10 virgins who were to be the receiving party for a bridegroom coming for his bride and wedding. Because “the bridegroom was a long time coming” (Jesus had warned the disciples about in the first parts of chapter 24), 5 virgins ran out of oil for their lamps and had to leave to go buy some … just when they needed to be welcoming the master. When they returned from their purchase they found that they were shut outside the banquet. They knew it was coming and were invited to be included but they missed out on the most important event of their lives because they were unprepared and not ready. Pretty easy to make application to salvation & eternity. How sad that this will be the experience of multitudes; they knew about the opportunity and appear to prepare, but in reality they have not.
If the preceding story is about people who miss out on salvation, 25:14-30 is more about “the saved” and the need to live actively and faithfully until the master’s return from his journey. The main point of the story is that we have been entrusted with valuable spiritual treasure by our Master and he expects us to fully use & improve it (increase the value of what has been entrusted to us). Failing to respond to what God entrusts us shows we weren’t true servants and can only expect displeasure and punishment.
The final story is about sheep & goats (the sheep are the good guys); I believe this story gets misinterpreted a lot. It is not teaching that if we are merciful to the down & out, that shows how we would treat Jesus, and that we will receive eternal life. Conversely, if we don’t take care of those in need we would be cut off from the kingdom. God cares—and so should we—about those in need, but that is not the point of this story. Jesus is talking about how others treat “the least in God’s kingdom”—his followers—who experience the toils, trials, and tears of this life while expanding the kingdom; it reveals whether or not they are to be received in the kingdom. The good deeds are not done to get into the kingdom but because they are kingdom-type sheep … I mean, people.
To sum up these two chapters (which have been impossible to fully discuss in 2 days), try to remember the main things that Jesus told his followers (then and now):
- Don’t get fooled by all the crises & catastrophes in the world and announce the sky is falling—or Jesus is returning—before he actually is. (Failed prophecies discredit our preaching.)
- Don’t be lulled to sleep or inactivity while we wait for his return.
Stay faithfully at the task he has called us to do. We have been entrusted with treasure; grow it.