For the last four weeks, we have been looking at misunderstood scriptures concerning the kingdom of God. Our focus thus far has been on two areas: the necessity of salvation to enter that kingdom, as well as the necessity of humility and a rejection of those things which the world values so highly: position, wealth, status, influence, and fame. These issues trouble me because I am so influenced by the culture of the West. However, I have little doubt that all of us, regardless of culture, are negatively influenced to value these things, which God clearly rejects.
In this article, we are sure to be troubled once more. Troubled, because Jesus introduces kingdom matters which have to do with our readiness to inherit His kingdom. All of them are dealt with in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of Matthew. Without posting these chapters entire, please allow me to offer this
brief overview and feel free to investigate these chapter yourself.
In the twenty-fourth chapter, Jesus introduces the topic of His second coming and gives rough details about what will precede it. This is where the Church focuses a lot of its attention. At the end of that chapter, however, He warns us that we should always be ready for His return. He is coming at an hour we do not expect (verse 44).
Because of His unexpected return, Jesus tells us what to do in preparation for that event:
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Matthew 24:45–46).1
He then informs us about the result of that preparation: “Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions” (Matthew 24:47).
In contrast, Jesus warns, “But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:48–51).
Please note the characteristics of the wicked servant:
- He does not feed his fellow servants but beats them. Jesus does not tell us the reason for this behavior, but when people injure others, it is because they, obviously, are treating them as inferiors. One cannot successfully assault another and be inferior to him. (Keep in mind here the previous teachings where we discussed the necessity of humility and powerlessness in order to enter God’s kingdom.) The wicked servant is not loving his fellow servants and clearly not “feeding” them.
- He eats and drinks with drunkards. He gives up. His master’s return—at which time he will be judged for his work—becomes meaningless to him. The hardness of his heart results in an inebriated, adventurous escapism, and fellowship with those worldly individuals who have given up as well.
- He will be put “with the hypocrites,” those who act and talk like they are genuine servants but are not. It is not necessary here to prove that talk is one thing and actions another.
This warning then flows over into Chapter Twenty-five, where Jesus offers two parables, the one of the “foolish” virgins—I think we would call them bridesmaids today—who were not ready for the bridegroom’s return, and the “wicked and slothful” servant who did nothing with the “talent” the master had given him. It is notable that the one who was given only one “talent,” who may have considered himself insignificant in comparison to those who had been given more, did nothing at all. This should cause us to consider, again, the truths about “significance” and “insignificance” in God’s kingdom.
The consequences of the foolish bridesmaids’ inattention: They could not go in to the marriage feast and heard these chilling words: “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you” (Matthew 25:12).
The consequences of the wicked and slothful servant’s inaction:
- What he had been given was taken from him (Matthew 25:28).
- The worthless servant was cast “into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 25:30).
Perhaps we have read these chapters and not applied them to ourselves. This inattentiveness is not wise. Why do we think we may not be one of these “foolish,” “worthless,” “wicked,” “slothful,” people? Because we are Christians? No. These warnings were addressed to servants of their Master and those who had been invited to the wedding feast of the Bridegroom.
Is that you?
1All Scripture quotations are from Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
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