WHEN THE SON OF MAN COMES
Key Verses: 25:31,32
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels
with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All
the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate
the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep
from the goats."
1. Read verses 1-13. To what did Jesus compare the kingdom of heaven?
Who is the bridegroom? How did five virgins show their wisdom? Why
were five virgins called foolish? What does the oil represent? What
can't we borrow or lend?
2. Read verses 14-23. Who is the man going on a journey? What did he
give his servants before leaving? What did the first two servants
do? When the master returned, what did they report? How did he com
mend and reward them? Why?
3. Read verses 24-30. What did the third servant report to his master
upon his return? What excuse did he give? How did the master rebuke
and punish him? What does this parable teach about God and the
mission he gives his servants?
4. Read verses 31-40. What will Jesus do when he comes again? How does
he reward his sheep? Why was he pleased with them? Why were they
surprised? What can we learn here about how to live as a child of
5. Read verses 41-46. How did he rebuke and punish the "goats"? Why
were they surprised? What does he teach about every person's
opportunity to serve the King? (Compare Ro 2:6-8) What can we learn
here about heaven and hell?
Chapter 25 consists of three very beautiful parables: the ten
virgins (1-13), the talents (14-30), and the sheep and the goats
(31-46). These parables tell us that we must have a basic attitude as
Jesus' people when we expect to enter the kingdom of God. We also must
live a faithful life as we wait for the Second Coming of Jesus. In this
chapter we especially learn what Jesus will do when he comes again.
First, the five foolish virgins (1-13). As we have studied, the kingdom
of God is the central theme of Matthew's Gospel, and it is repeated
here again. Look at verse 1. "At that time the kingdom of heaven will
be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the
bridegroom." This verse implies that those who hope to enter the
kingdom of God should be like pure virgin brides who are waiting for
the coming of the bridegroom. According to Jewish custom, the
bridegroom would come to the bride to have a wedding ceremony after a
one-year period of engagement. The bridegroom would be accompanied by
many friends and relatives when he comes to get married.
The bride also would invite many of her friends to be her
bridesmaids. The bride would put on makeup and dress up like a
princess, and the others would be her attendants. As a custom, the
bride and her attendants would come out on the road and play musical
instruments or dance merrily until the bridegroom and his company would
arrive. In ancient times, transportation was not so convenient; so the
bridegroom's coming would frequently be delayed. The bride and her
bridesmaids had to wait until the bridegroom and his company arrived.
Look at verse 2. "Five of them were foolish and five were wise."
The foolish virgins took their lamps but did not take any oil with them
(3). The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became
drowsy and fell asleep (5). Look at verse 6. "At midnight the cry rang
out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'" Then all the
virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the
wise, "Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out." "No," they
replied, "there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to
those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves" (7-9). The foolish
virgins should have gone to the gas station and bought oil beforehand.
But they did not because they were lazy. While the foolish virgins were
on their way to the gas station, the bridegroom arrived, and the
virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And
the door was shut. Later, the foolish virgins came back from the gas
station and knocked at the gate, saying, "Sir! Sir! Open the door for
us!" He replied, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you" (10-12).
Usually, a virgin bride has an inherent joy to prepare many
things--everything--for the day of her wedding. All virgin brides are
joyful and very diligent to prepare for their happy weddings. None of
them are lazy. It is unbelievable that the five of them were so lazy
that they did not prepare oil beforehand. We cannot deny that the
foolish virgins' problem was that they were lazy. These lazy women
thought they were the smartest. But they were foolish women. These
foolish women could not get into the wedding banquet. There was a girl
student who wanted to get a Ph.D. and become a scientist like Newton.
Her idealism was good. But she was overcome by laziness. When she was
overcome by laziness, she was overwhelmed by lustful desires. From then
on, she lived a loose life. Later, she became a factory girl instead of
a scientist. Smart people calculate again and again; finally they come
to the conclusion, "Well, I am going to invest the least and get the
most benefit." There is a danger for smart people to become lazy. The
foolish virgins represent lazy people. Laziness is not a light matter.
The five foolish virgins were lazy, and their laziness disqualified
them from the happy wedding banquet. Verse 13 says, "Therefore keep
watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."
Second, the five wise virgins (4,10). Look at verse 4. "The wise,
however, took oil in jars along with their lamps." They were diligent.
When they were tired and sleepy, they overcame themselves and went to
the gas station to get some extra oil. To be diligent seems to be easy.
But it is not. It requires a diligent mind. Here, preparing oil is to
prepare to wait for the bridegroom's coming. This is comparable to our
lives of faith. The life of faith requires faithfulness. Faithful
people lose a lot to remain faithful. To worldly people, such people
look weird. But to God they are faithful people. God is happy to give
his kingdom to those faithful people. There are certain things we can
borrow from others. We can borrow others' bicycles or pencils. But
there are certain things we cannot borrow, such as another person's
noble character or faithfulness. Therefore we must ask God, so that he
may help us to be faithful.
Third, wise managers (14-22). Jesus again teaches how to be a member of
the kingdom of God. Look at verses 14,15. "Again, it will be like a man
going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property
to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents,
and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went
on his journey." Here we learn that God has given each of us talents
according to our own ability. We also learn that we have to work hard
with the talents given us by God. The man who had received the five
talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more
(16). Also, the one with two talents gained two more (17). It is not
easy to know how to put our money to work. If we knew how to put our
money to work, we would all be millionaires. It is not easy to teach
someone how to put his money to work. But we can learn from the one who
had received five talents how to put our money to work. The man who had
received the five talents acknowledged that he had been entrusted with
his master's talents. When he had this realization, God made him a man
of mission, a man of faithfulness and a man of wisdom, who figured out
how to put his money to work until he made 100% profit for his master.
It was the same for the one who received the two talents. God helps
those who help themselves. What happened to them? They experienced the
joy that comes from success and achievement. They experienced the joy
that comes from faithfulness. So, with great joy, they exclaimed,
"Master, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five
more" (20). "Master, you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have
gained two more" (22). This tells us that God gives great joy along
with the crown of life to those who are faithful to God.
Fourth, God's reward for his faithful servants (19-23). After a long
time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with
them (19). The one who gained five more said, "Master, you entrusted me
with five talents. See, I have gained five more" (20). What did the
master say? Look at verse 21. "His master replied, 'Well done, good and
faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put
you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'"
First of all, faithful servants receive God's recognition. To all
mankind, the problem of recognition is not a small matter. Many young
people want recognition. They want recognition as a bright person or a
good athlete. But these kinds of recognition cannot satisfy our souls.
When we are recognized as faithful persons by God it is indeed
glorious. There is no recognition better than being called a faithful
person. When we are recognized by God as faithful people, our souls
rejoice. Mary the mother of Jesus praised God when she was recognized
by God, saying, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in
God my Savior" (Lk 1:46b,47). When one is recognized by God, he can
recognize himself, and as a result, his soul rejoices.
When we are faithful to God, there is another reward. Look at
verse 21b. "I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share
your master's happiness!" When we are faithful to God to the point of
death, God does not give us a vacation to Florida. God exalts us with
greater tasks and greater responsibilities. In other words, God makes
us great. God also makes us happy. Happiness does not come from the
things of the world. It comes from God. When God makes us happy we are
Fifth, a foolish manager (24-30). Let's see what happened to the man
who had received the one talent. He said, "You are a hard and able man.
So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See,
here is what belongs to you" (24, 25). When the servant who had
received the one talent thought about his master, that he was a hard
man, he was afraid. He dug a hole in the ground and hid his talent.
What did the master do with him? Look at verse 26. "His master
replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where
I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?'" His
master rebuked him, saying, "Wicked and lazy servant!" In the Bible we
can scarcely find synonyms repeated in order to emphasize something.
But Jesus rebukes wicked people, saying, "You wicked, lazy servant!"
Here we learn that lazy people are wicked people. Lazy people are
selfish people. Lazy people are unfaithful people. Lazy people are
arrogant people. Still they say to themselves, "Hmm, I am the smartest
guy in the world." But verse 30 says, "And throw that worthless servant
outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of
teeth." Finally, lazy people receive great punishment.
Sixth, our King Jesus separates the sheep and the goats (31-33). Look
at verses 31,32. "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the
angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the
nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people
one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats."
These days most people think of Jesus as a nobody. But he will come
again to judge all people and all nations. When Jesus comes to this
world again, first he will separate the sheep from the goats. Until
now, many brutal people pretended to be God's people, covering
themselves with sheepskins. But when Jesus comes again, he will uncover
them and separate the sheep from the goats. Here, "sheep" refers to
God's children, and "goats" to hypocrites. Human beings are basically
all hypocrites because of their fallen nature. So the King Jesus judges
man's motives and purpose of life (Ro 2:6-9). These days most people
hate Jesus by hating his people. But when Jesus comes again, they must
stand before him to be judged by him. His judgment will be severe
indeed. When they are judged, they have to gnash their teeth in the
darkness forever (30).
Seventh, our King Jesus gives his kingdom to his people (34-40). Look
at verse 34. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you
who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom
prepared for you since the creation of the world.'" Verses 35,36 read,
"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,
I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after
me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." The King Jesus does not
ignore those who helped the helpless while living in this hard world.
The King Jesus regards their good works done for the helpless as done
for himself personally.
What did they say in response to the king's verdict? Look at
verses 37-39. "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did
we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to
drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing
clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to
visit you?'" They were surprised by the king's good verdict for them.
They never thought they were helping others. They never thought they
were helping Christ and thus piling up eternal reward. They helped the
helpless simply because they loved God from their hearts. They simply
gave hungry men meals because they loved God. They simply welcomed
strangers because they loved God. They simply visited the sick to
comfort them because they loved God. Here we learn that when we love
God, we can love our neighbor.
When we have God in our hearts, God gives us happiness. What is
the secret of happiness? The secret of happiness is to have God in
one's heart. There is a story about a centurion (Mt 8:5-13). Roman
officers were known to be proud, straightforward and merciless. But
this centurion was different. One morning he saw that his young
servant was very sick. The servant's eyes looked pointless, and his
lips, dried. Then the centurion threw away his briefcase and went to
the Jewish rulers. He persuaded them to ask Jesus to come and heal his
servant. The centurion could do this because he loved God and he loved
They say that once, St. Francis of Assisi met a leper, loathsome
and repulsive in the ugliness of his leprosy. St. Francis dismounted
and flung his arms around this wretched man. A few seconds later he
found that the face of the leper in his arms changed to the face of
Christ. St. Francis did this because he loved God. Abraham rescued Lot
at the expense of his wealth when Lot became a war prisoner, even
though Lot had betrayed his love and care (Ge 14). To human eyes,
Abraham was foolish. However, he could not stop himself, but rescued
Lot at any cost. How could Abraham do this? It was because he loved
On the other hand, King Jesus punishes selfish people (41-46).
What is the verdict for those whose inner motive is selfish? Look at
verse 41. "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you
who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his
angels.'" They will be cast into eternal punishment because they lived
a selfish life. They never gave food to the hungry (42). They never
gave water to the thirsty. They never welcomed strangers into their
apartments (43). Instead, they used all their money to please their
stomachs. Selfish people usually want to get something from others.
They have no idea to give something to others. Selfish people become
arrogant after getting all the benefits from God. These days secular
humanists propagate the idea of living a selfish life. They lead others
to eternal destruction.
In this chapter we learn that we must live a life of faith while
we are waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus. We must be like the five
wise virgins. We must learn how to put money to work for the glory of
God. We must believe that we inherit the kingdom of God when we believe