I think of these parables, in Matthew 25, as the parables of the bottom line. After all the teaching and parables and demonstration of what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like, all the invitations to enter in, to turn towards God, to know God etc (more on that in tomorrow’s post!) Jesus finally talks about crunch time. Call it judgment day, the end of all things, whatever…its the point beyond which you can’t change your mind. Here’s an example from my life:
Picture if you will 2 small children, 2 parents who like to include children in decision making… ‘which drink would you like- apple juice or milk?’
‘Milk, no, apple juice, no milk..please’
(hand over cup of milk, which is taken… child starts drinking) ‘I wanted APPLE JUICE!’
you can’t un-milk things… you just can’t reverse the decision once they drink it…
Its not because I’m an evil judgmental dictator of a father (of course, I’m all those things too), but just because decisions are made, and then there are outcomes. And at some point those outcomes become final.
These parables in Matthew 25 are about that finality. You probably want to have a quick scan of them unless you’re uber-familiar with the passage. Go do that now while I put the kettle on and make a brew.
The first- the 10 young girls waiting for the wedding party: the point Jesus is making is that when that final moment comes, will we be in readiness for it (you know the old gag ‘Jesus is coming- look busy’? Well, it’s too late then). But its not about busyness, its about preparedness in our hearts as well as our actions.
Secondly- the 10 talents (they are financial here, but they can nicely be equated to abilities or ‘talents’ which makes it easy to explain to kids): Use what you’ve been trusted with, before its too late and you’ve wasted the opportunity. That can be all kinds of things, and needs to be worked out every day… but use it, don’t lose it.
Thirdly- Goats and Sheep: Serious bottom line stuff here- care for the poor, the imprisoned, the starving just as if they were the Son of God. Or don’t. The choice is absolutely yours. Just don’t be surprised when Jesus eventually turns around and asks what you’ve been up to.
And i guess thats it: we will, in the grand scheme of things, eventually be busted for all the stuff we try to short cut and avoid, for the meanheartedness and laziness. And if we try to justify ourselves, thats when we’ll be stuffed.
Fortunately for all of us, there’s still grace… did I mention grace yet?