Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Matthew 25:1-30
Sermon Notes
Theology: Knowing God
May 7, 2017
Lynchburg, Virginia

         Near Context- Cataclysmic Events that will befall Israel and Jerusalem in the next 35 years. Israel has been described as the bride of God in many texts of the Old Testament. He is coming to take up his bride. Of course, we now know that Jesus is the bridegroom of the Church, the bride of Christ.
         So, this language of a bride and groom and a wedding feast is familiar to the Scriptures. In this story, the waiting virgins are on the lookout for the bridegroom to show up to receive his bride. The attendants are to watch and notify the bride
when the groom arrives. They are to attend him to the wedding feast.
         Some are wise and some are foolish. The foolish here turn out to not only be foolish but miss the wedding and feast altogether.
         The second parable is also one of waiting and watching. The parable of the talents.
Far Context For Us
Watch- We must be diligent in our expectation of answering to Jesus.
Wait- Our time might be long or short. Don’t grow impatient, bored, embittered.
Work- Work for a long time as if you only had a short time.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
These virgins are waiting upon the bridegroom. Which one will he choose? They all have the same opportunity to meet him but some are wise and some are foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
The foolish had no oil. What is the oil? The Holy Spirit? Wisdom to watch and wait? The wise have oil.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
When the bridegroom arrives, the wise virgins are ready. They light their lamps and go out to meet him.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
The foolish seek help from the wise but they are beyond help.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
When the bridegroom arrives, it is too late. The foolish have to fend for themselves but it is all for naught.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
The wise virgins are united to the bridegroom but the foolish virgins are unknown to him. They receive their just due.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
This is the main point of the parable, so we must careful to read too much into it. Furthermore, this parable should make you sit up and pay attention but it should not make you restless and unsure.
Jesus tells this parable to His own disciples so that they would be ready and they were. The lazy, indolent, arrogant and presumptuous never hear these words. They keep on about their business. When the Lord finally arrives and shocks them with His presence, they accuse Him of being quick to judge. That is another slander of the Lord.

Matt. 25:14   For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Kingdom of heaven is understood here, looking back to the previous parable. We should not understand this as how the kingdom of heaven appears but rather how the Son of man comes in His kingdom in judgment.
Jesus will soon ascend up into heaven. The kingdom of heaven has already appeared on the Earth when the King of Heaven came to Earth. That kingdom continues from Jesus’s time until the end of time.
But Jesus departs from men. He goes up to heaven and His disciples wonder where He has gone. He told them that they could not go there yet but that He would send the Helper to them. But His departure can be seen as a ruler traveling to a far country. He puts his stewards in charge. He invests them with money and authority and expects them to do his bidding.
It says that he delivered unto them all his goods. The kingdom has now become the kingdom of his servants. Jesus said as much. All authority was given to Him in Heaven and in Earth, therefore you go into all the world and declare this truth.
That may seem odd to us. We expect Jesus to rule from His throne with all authority. But no earthly king ever carried out every detail of his administration personally. He appoints ministers, generals, ambassadors, cabinet members, who are vested with his authority to carry out his will in his kingdom. This is what Jesus is doing. He has given his servants all his goods and he expects them to make good with them.

15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
In Luke, he gives ten servants each a pound. There were sixty pounds to a talent.
Here, he gives one man five talents, another two, and another, one.   This appears to be the same story as told in Luke so there are differing facts. However, it is likely that Jesus told the story in differing ways. The point is not necessarily how much money he gave but rather what the servants did with the money.
In Luke, the sum of money recorded is not that much. Here in Matthew it is a great sum. Sixty of the pounds mentioned in Luke.
A talent of weight is a lot. A talent of gold would have been about about 100 of our pounds of gold. Five talents or one would have been a vast fortune. Even in Luke, a pound of gold would have been a fairly large sum.
This parable is about both being ready when the Lord comes and also doing that which He has called you to do in the meantime.
The Lord grants various talents. Not all of his servants are of equal talent. Some have five, some two, some one. But the Lord expects all of his servants to use their talents to the best of their ability. Furthermore, he expects us to use our talents knowing his character.
We live in an age that refuse accountability. We expect the Lord to forgive every sin, every failing. It is true that our Lord is exceedingly gracious. But this parable does not turn out well for the man who has only one talent and fails to utilize it to his lord’s favor. He receives a harsh and eternal punishment. There is a reckoning. And we cannot argue that our Lord is always ever gracious. For some who choose not to understand his character and so mischaracterize him, there is a bitter end.

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
The first two servants fare well. The one with five talents gets an excellent return. The one with two talents get an excellent return. The Lord is pleased with both of them.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
The one with one talent refuses to use his talent to the benefit of his lord.

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
He reckoned with them. He is going to ask, “How did you do with what I gave you?”
What did he give you? Fine parents, a good education, a bible believing church. You are those with five talents. What will you do with them? Do you know the character of Jesus? If so, then you will get to work.

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
The man of many talents will rule over much. The Lord is overjoyed and this man partakes of the Lord’s joy.

22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
The second man gets the same commendation. He, too, will rule over many things.

24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
Prov. 26:16   The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.
This man really did not know his lord. He said that he knew that he was a hard man. Does this mean hard to please? He was pleased with five talents from a five talent man and two talents from a two talent man. We have every reason to believe that he would be pleased with one talent from a one talent man.
But it looks like this one talent man is turning into a no talent man. He slanders the lord’s character. He was afraid and therefore did not work on behalf of his lord. He gives the talent back to his lord. He never understood that the lord wanted him to use his talent, not hide it in the ground.
These unfaithful servant failed because of fear. Fear is a great crippler. We should be wise and prudent but not fearful. Fear keeps us from doing that which we should do. Fear keeps us from taking risks that require us to trust in Jesus.
Are you fearful about the future? Is that because you think your Lord is an austere man? Can you not trust Him in whatever He has for you? Then press forth into hard things. Do hard things!
He says that his lord reaps where he does not sow and gathers where he has not strawed. Is this so? Isn’t it the case that the Lord sows more than anyone and reaps a great harvest? It is true that the Lord can feed a multitude on a few loaves and fishes but He does so by sowing faith.
The Lord puts in the sickle and straws the field. He then gathers in the sheaves. It is another slander on the Lord to say that he does not sow and does not straw. This is how a wicked man looks at the success of a blessed and hard working man. It was all luck. I know that I do not have that sort of luck so I hazarded nothing. It would be different for you, of course.

26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
The lord answers this fool according to his folly. The servant knew his lord as a hard man and finds him so. Blessed are those who know their lord as a kind and gracious man and find him so.
The Lord says, you know me to  reap where I did not sow and gather where I did not harvest. Even if that were true, it should have made you to hazard a return rather than to refuse to work. A wicked and slothful servant refuses to work based upon false knowledge of his master and his master’s successes.
That is to say, that he makes much with little or nothing. Such a man would expect a return on his investment.
The Lord God has given us life, parents, education, resources and He expects us to use them to His glory. If we do not do so, then we are in grave danger.

28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
Unfair, unfair! The successful man already has 10 talents. How can the Lord give him even more? Just because he has been successful in the Lord’s name. He di not take the honor for himself. He sought to honor the lord. The Lord blesses such work, such hearts.
For those who are in Christ, we know this math. The Lord takes our few or weak talents and blesses them beyond measure. He keeps granting us more and more. Why? Not because He is a hard man, as the slanderers claim. But, rather, because He is faithful, long-suffering, kind, generous, quick to forgive. We can take great risks with that sort of lord.

30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But the wicked servant knows his lord as angry, greedy, demanding, austere, grudge-holding. A servant of such a master would never take a risk. He would never risk squandering that lord’s money. He might just sit low and not do much of anything. The sin here is lack of work, laziness, slothfulness. That is part of it. But the greater sin is a slander on the lord, himself. This servant does not know his lord and therefore, his lord does not know him.
Not only does this man have what he does have taken away from him, he, himself, is condemned. The little that he did have, one talent, is now completely squandered.

         We covered some of this material last week when we talked about watching over your flocks, knowing the state of your flocks.
         The application today is
         Work- Naked, hungry, thirsty. Sheep and the goats. Do unto the Lord’s people. Contrast this with those who persecute God’s people, or neglect them. The leaders of Israel failed to feed, clothe and nourish God’s people.

But the title of the sermon is Theology: Knowing God. Why?
         Because the great sin of the men with the talents is that they did not know their master, they thought him an austere man, a hard man. The citizens of His city were unwilling to submit to Him because they did not know that He was good and gracious.
Jesus does talk about weeping and gnashing of teeth. This parable has some hard edges to it. Some of the hearers of this parable thought Jesus a hard man, an austere man. Is that all you get out of your theology? Jesus is a hard and austere man? Or, does your theology actually teach you how to know God, to know Jesus? I hope the latter. Kids growing up in this church, I hope you do not think Jesus is a hard man, an austere man. Do you? Why? Because He said harsh words to the Pharisees? Because He threatened hell-fire and damnation? Does that contradict the long-suffering, quick forgiving nature of God we see everywhere in Scripture?
Maybe your own father and mother are impossible to please and you read that into the character of God?
Our theology has some hard edges. We do believe in the Sovereignty of God. He has decreed all things from before the foundation of the world. Some people do not like the implications of this truth. That might even be hard for you. But because that doctrine is hard for you to believe or leaves hard edges like the elect and non-elect, does it follow that our Lord Jesus is an austere man?
         Do we find it more incredible that some are not elect, like Pharoah, or that any are, like you and me? Is it not more amazing that God saves any of us than that He overlooks some? He chooses us because of His decree, His election, His graciousness, His kindness. He is not an austere man. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. Our theology teaches us to know God this way. Do you?
          Do you know the Lord Jesus? Do you know His character? Is He a hard man who is exacting and demanding with His servants? Does He sow sparingly or not at all and expect to receive a reward? Or does He hand out talents in abundance, five to some, two to others, one to many? He is not miserly but generous. He is not hard but forgiving. He does not sow sparingly but abundantly.
         But He does expect a return on His investment. He expects His planting to produce fruit. He is a very patient fruit inspector. He gives time and resources to see the growth. He provides His Spirit to ensure there is fruit, a return on His investment.
         For those of you gathered here, there is no excuse for not giving the Lord a return on His investment. Why? Because:
1.   You know Him- Not like the wicked servant who hid his talent, not knowing his master.
2.   You have His Spirit- We can only really know Him if He reveals Himself to us by His Spirit.
3.   You have many means of grace: Baptism, The Lord’s Supper, Confession, Repentance, Forgiveness, Parents, Bible-reading. Do not neglect them. Use them to get to work.
4.   Vocation- Serve the Lord right where you are. Get about the Lord’s business. You work is to glorify God in everything that you do, whether discipling others, doing school, as an attorney, carpenter, doctor, call center counselor, mother, teacher, wife, husband. In whatever role you find yourself, you should be doing what God calls you to in that work.
It is not enough to say to the Lord that you didn’t do anything bad. Or that you did just enough to pass without getting into trouble. The talent the Lord gave you is not for you. You have to spend it. At the end of your life, you should be spent. That is how the Lord gets a return on His investment.
But just as when you put in a hard day’s work, the spending of His talents does not make your grumpy and grouchy. It produces the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And this fruit has a positive effect on those around you, children, siblings, parents, friends. Are you spending for Him?

If you work for the Lord, then you should work for the Lord. You should put your back into it and do some heavy lifting. You do this by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you refuse to get busy for Jesus, then you show that you do not really believe Him or trust in His Spirit to do what He has called you to.

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