New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Sheep and Goats

I have learned much in our journey through the parables. Not enough, but much. As this is the last of my posts in this series on the parables, I would appreciate your thoughts and comments. I am considering a series on the miracles of the Lord Jesus and would appreciate if this is of interest to any who may be following.

On to our parable! This parable is of sheep and goats. Two animals that are easily distinguishable. I think!

Lets read the passage and then dig in.

Matthew 25:31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

The disciples, those who were following Him.

When did the Lord give this parable?

Jesus spoke this parable two days prior to the Passover.

When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” – Mat 26:1-2 ESV

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Jesus had been teaching His future apostles, those who would lead the ekklesia, truths on the mount of Olives

As he sat on the Mount of Olives the disciples came to him… – Mat 24:3a ESV

Why did the Lord give this message?

The purpose of this message as I understand it, is to instruct His men of the extent and power of His Kingdom, of the coming judgement, of His method of judging and can be outlined as follows

  • The King has authority of all nations (The nations are gathered before Him)
  • The King divides the nations into two groups (This implies they were together previously)
  • The King rewards both the groups on behavior towards the “least of these my brothers
  • The King judges based on linking the least of these my brethren with the King
  • The King will judge with surprising outcomes for both groups.

What was the message for the original audience?

During the time of this parable, goats and sheep were not as we see them today. Their appearance was not as distinct as we find today. Consider Genesis 30:32, where Moses describes both sheep and goat as being speckled and spotted.

let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages. – Gen 30:32 ESV

It was not uncommon for a flock to contain both sheep and goats during this time and this parable would ring true to the original hearers.

Consider Leviticus 5:6

he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat… – Lev 5:6 ESV

The original audience, the disciples were listening to the Messiah speak of the separation of two types of animals from a flock, not based on appearance, but based on the actions of the animal. What they did.

But I must ask. The sheep did things for the least of these my brothers. These things that were performed on the weak and powerless were acts of mercy and kindness. That seems obvious at this point.

But I need to understand who the Lord is referring to when he mentions “the least of these my brothers”?

I have always, until forced to consider it in this post, assumed the “the least of these my brothers” to be the physical, national brothers of the Messiah. Those who have their roots in the nation of Israel. Of course this is a result of my previous fascination with dispensational theology, which I have abandoned.

But ideas linger, and this is one that may be challenged with this passage. This needs to be discussed a bit later, as I am drifting a wee bit!

What is the message for us today?

One item that I have always assumed is that those who are “the least of these my brothers” is referring to the poor, weak and imprisoned, sometimes defining the least of these my brothers as Jewish “brothers” of Jesus.

As an aside, as many of you know, I live in Houston Tx, and the streets are full of the poor and destitute. My wife, who works in a store on a busy intersection, often comments on the organized efforts of the “poor and destitute” beggars who drive up to the intersection and pile out of a relatively nice vehicle, and take their stations for the day. Scam artists are out there and we need to have discernment in our efforts to be loving and kind. One characteristic we watch for are the condition of the shoes. If the “beggar” has nice shoes, it seems apparent they are not poor and destitute.

But I digress

Who are we, as believers to consider as “the least of these my brothers“, when we hear the Lord speak in this parable. I find it curious that the Lord appended His description of “the least of these” with “my brothers” Of course I can find no specific instance in the New Testament where national Israel is defined as Jesus family/brothers, but I do find multiple instances where the New Testament describes believers as His brothers. Consider Matthew 12:48-49, where His mother and brothers were requesting His presence while He was teaching.

48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! – Mat 12:48-49 ESV

Another passage that comes to mind is when the author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is not ashamed to call those sons that He is bringing into glory his brothers.

11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, – Heb 2:11 ESV

Jesus’ family are those who are His disciples. His brethren (and sistren) are those of faith, not of the flesh. This may seem obvious to some, but I did not catch this truth in the story of the sheep and goats for decades.

Please understand this specific teaching in Matthew 25 does not allow us to ignore the needs of the general population. This is not the intent of the parable nor my wanderings in this post. Each of us are to seek to relieve others of suffering, but as the apostle Paul teaches in Galatians, there is a priority of believers for believers to minister to.

10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Gal 6:10 ESV

One concluding thought.

If Jesus is referring to believers as the poor and destitute that are receiving the mercy, that tells us that it is the believers that are in the prisons, that are hungry, thirsty, poor, naked and sick. Believers are not exempt from the suffering of this world, and may be exposed to greater suffering based on our identification with our Brother Jesus.

As believers, we need to prioritize our efforts on those we know as followers as the Lord leads us. My understanding of this parable has taken a turn for the better after my simple rumination. Will you look for ways to bless those in the Body of Christ, those in the Family of the Son, who are suffering, and going without.

May the Lord help us all to know the best way to minister.

Please don’t forget to let me know your thoughts on a future series on the Miracles of the Lord Jesus. Your input and suggestions are always welcome.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – The King’s Servants

Being an engineer in my day job, you can imagine that when numbers show up in the Word, I “calculate”. As we read through this parable, we see that each of the servants are provided a quantity of resources to use for a fixed period of time. Upon return of the Master, a time of reckoning falls on the servants. The Master judges each of the servants and doles out “rewards”.

Is that what this parable is about? Servants doubling their Masters resources and receiving proportional rewards?

Or is it about something else? Let’s read the parable before we make any assumptions.

Matthew 25:14-30

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Jesus was teaching His disciples. Those who were His servants.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This teaching was provided during the last week of the Lord’s life on earth.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

As Matthew 24:3 teaches, the Lord gave this teaching outside of Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

Jesus began this parable by likening the Kingdom of God to this story. Jesus was about to leave this world and release the Spirit of God into His Kingdom, providing an inestimable “resource” for His servants. The Kingdom of God was about to explode on the scene, and His servants needed to have a clear understanding of acceptable behavior for a servant, but more importantly, they needed to understand the unacceptable perception of the Master.

But I am getting ahead of myself

What was the message for the original audience?

The first two servants, in doubling the Masters resource were rewarded “with much”. The servant that doubled the Master’s five talents, thereby providing the Master ten talents, received authority over ten cities. Likewise with the servant who doubled His Master’s two talents. He received authority over two cities.

As you can see, this is where my initial thought of proportionality was spawned. But I was not considering the point of the parable. This background information was describing the grace of the Master, revealing the Master’s character.

A talent is a huge sum of cash, equal to 6,000 denarii. One denarii was a full days wage. Therefore, a talent represented approx. 20 years of wages!

The audience in Jesus day would consider the initial trust of such wealth to be unthinkable, and the reward to be unbelievable, for servants worked without the expectation of rewards.

Peter and the gang must have been delirious with this parable!

But alas, the focus of the parable is the third servant. Let’s reconsider this servant’s perception of the Master.

‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ – Mat 25:24b-25 ESV

The servant approaches the Master with a bold defense, claiming it is the Master’s fault for his lack of profit. This fellow is the ultimate “victim” This is quite the claim, since “hard” may be understood as fierce, harsh, or stern. This servant approached the Master, proclaiming his fear due to the Master’s character, and returned the single talent back. He knew the Master would expect profit, and this created fear in this fellow, but this fear supposedly “froze” the servant in his endeavors.

The servant was afraid due to his perception (right or wrong) of the Master.

The Master did not accept the servants claim of fear causing his lack of service. The reason the servant came back empty handed was that he was wicked (evil, bad) and slothful (sluggish, indolent, grievous)! This had nothing to do with the Master’s character, for as the parable describes Him, He is one who entrusts His servants with responsibility, and rewards them richly.

Amazing that the servant was described as “worthless” in a parable describing profits, resources and rewards!

This did not turn out well for the third servant, for the talent was taken from him, given to the first servant (thereby blowing my proportionality theorem!) and was thrown out.

The servant was thrown out! When I read that, I was shocked! This was a servant of the Master! How could that be?

I will not repeat my previous findings on the consequences of this servant’s perception of the Master here. If of interest to the reader, please refer to Parable Surprises – Wedding Banquet.

Suffice it to say, I think the original audience understood that their perception of the Master was key to avoiding failure in the Kingdom.

What is the message for us today?

What is the parables message to us today? The core message I have come away with is not that we are required to double any resources we may have been granted. This is not the intent of the parable. The talents are simply a vehicle used to describe the Master’s gracious character towards His servants.

The key message from this parable is our perception of the Master!

Our Perception of God

How do you “see” God?

Do you see God as the third servant saw his master, as a hard man, reaping where He does not sow, and gathering where He scattered not seed?

When you consider the One above, who came to earth, who took upon Himself the form of a man, and became a servant to His enemies, who loved those who crucified Him, who suffered and bled, do you see Him as “hard”?

I am a weak and sinful man blundering through this existence of mercy, but the Scriptures have a constant witness we are wise to avail ourselves of. The Word speaks of God as ever loving, kind and merciful to those who look to Him.

As we seek to serve Him, we must understand His character in order to serve Him and our fellow man properly. He is like no other, and we must be constantly reminded of His “otherness”, of His not being like us.

But what is the nature of our God?

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:16

The fruit of the Spirit is the natural outflow of the nature of our God!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – Gal 5:22-23 ESV

To attribute other than these characteristics to the Lord would be an exercise in contradiction. If we see Him as unwieldly, austere, fierce, harsh or stern, as this third servant saw his master, we ourselves shall suffer for this, and eventually end up using this lie as an excuse for our wickedness.

You see, the Scriptures teach us that what we worship is what we become. Now I am not saying if we worship God we become God, but the Scriptures do inform us of the opportunity to be conformed to the One we worship.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

But what if we avoid or ignore the witness of the grace of God. What may we be transformed into other than confirming our own likeness, of hardening our opinion of ourselves as being right, pure and good? This is a great danger!

But wait – there are implications of this decision to consider our own opinions as being correct as opposed to the Word. What might be worse is that we may project our character on Him? Make the One we worship identical to ourselves! How utterly disastrous for us and for His name!

To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. – Isa 40:25

He is the Holy One, the ever living One, the One who changes not! How can we ever be conformed into the image of the matchless Son of God if all we see is an image of ourselves!

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. – Rom 8:29

and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:10

What is your perception of God?

When you fall into a time of trial, do you see Him as One who brought the trial into your life, or as the One who will suffer with you through it?

When you fail in some endeavor, do you see Him as One that will mock you, judge you condemn you, or do you see Him as One who is kind and compassionate, willing to forgive, and inviting your repentance, providing your renewal?

Your perception of God determines your relationship with Him. Your perception of God determines your destiny.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Wise and Foolish Virgins

In my early studies on this parable, I have found widely varying interpretations and applications. Interpretations that are complex and specific, about which I question the requirement of.

Some of the links of this parable with our current understanding of Christianity included associating the sleep of the virgins with the sleep of death, or that the oil represented either the “works” of the foolish virgins, or the “faith” of the wise virgins.

As I pondered this effort to identify each specific item in the parable, I became engulfed in the details and lost focus on the main point. As a Pastor friend of mine once said… Keep the main point the main point. Therefore, I will seek to stay focused on the main point of the parable.

And what is the main point of the parable? Let’s read the passage, and consider my faithful questions below.

Matthew 25:1-13

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

As mentioned in a previous post Parable Surprises – Fig Tree, the parables spoken by the Messiah are directed to His disciples, the apostles who would lead the church in the near future, who would, in my understanding, watch the Lord build a nation of believers, starting from a nation that was dying on the vine, ready to be spewed from the land.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was provided within a week of the crucifixion.

As an aside, might the disciples have remembered this parable after the crucifixion, (but before the resurrection) and even mocked this delay He spoke of! The delay would be forever – all hope is gone! What a cruel promise is this parable without faith. And yet, the disciples, even after this gut wrenching, hope crushing disappointment, were used mightily of the Lord.

But I digress.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

As with the previous parables, this one seems to be continued directly after the faithful and wise servant parable, given on the Mount of Olives.

Why did the Lord give this message?

This question is sometimes the most difficult question to answer. Not so with this parable.

This parable is given to warn the disciples that they do not know, nor will they know, when the Son of Man comes. This is the intent of the parable. Identifying additional terms, (like the oil or the lamps) are inconsequential, even distracting, from the intent of this parable. Watch therefore! But alas, I am getting ahead of myself, for we have to find out what the message was for the original audience, prior to making any application for ourselves!

What was the message for the original audience?

Peter James, John and the remaining disciples were listening intently to these parables, not realizing that they were some of the Master’s final stories.

In hearing this parable, they had just come off listening to instruction of staying awake.

Mat 24:42,43

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.

And now we have a parable about ten virgins, all of them falling asleep. I find it instructive that within this parable, all ten virgins slept and are not judged on this. The wise virgins slept.

Previous teaching during this same period (minutes before?) the disciples were instructed to “stay awake”. What gives?

Parables, in my understanding are telling a story with a message, not twenty messages. One parable does not necessarily convey into the next. Each parable has a point – take the point and move on!

Matthew 24:42, 43 speaks of alertness, of understanding that we are to expect Him when we least expect Him. If we are looking for signs of His coming, this may indicate that we are not expecting Him when we least expect Him. This is actually detrimental to the Christian faith!

The previous parable speaks of a servant assuming the Master’s delay, and the subsequent results of this wrong thinking that led to his suffering.

Matthew 24:48, 50-51
But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’
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.

The parable of the ten virgins speaks of preparing, even planning for a delay. The foolish servant in the previous parable, assumed a delay for the purpose of selfish indulgence. In this parable of the ten virgins, we are not told why they didn’t prepare. Five of them simply did not prepare for any delay.

As you can see, these parables are to “stand on their own two feet”, to communicate one primary message to the hearers.

So the disciples had been taught of the need for alertness, and of the consequences of thinking wrongly of the Son of Man’s coming.

And in this parable, be ready, be prepared for the Bridegroom’s coming. “Watch therefore” in the parables concluding verse, must include the concept of preparation.

One last topic to bring to my readers attention, is the phrase “the door was shut” in verse 10. Even as the foolish virgins came back with oil, they could not enter the marriage feast. The opportunity had passed.

It seems this unpreparedness was characteristic of these foolish virgins, for the Bridegroom spoke of not knowing them. I am assuming that the bridegroom had a say in choosing these virgins for his celebrations. Did he misjudge their character, and from this say he didn’t (really) know them?

Don’t misunderstand – our Lord knows each and every one of us. Humanly speaking, this bridegroom had misjudged the five virgins. He didn’t know them the way he thought he knew them.

What is the message for us today?

So, what is the main point Carl? Be prepared. To “be” something implies a constancy, a consistency, an existence. Therefore, we need “to be” of such character that we are one’s who are prepared, have a character that looks to be prepared, that plans and prepares for possibilities within our abilities.

Personally, I believe Matthew 24 & 25 is providing teaching to the disciples of the coming of the Son of Man upon the nation of Israel in 70 AD, and that Jesus was giving His disciples direction regarding the dissolution of the political nation of Israel. But that conclusion isn’t critical in finding the important application to be drawn from this story.

This parable was directing the disciples to watch and be prepared for the Son of Man’s coming. A coming that would take 40 years to be realized for Jesus’ apostles. A coming that, in the disciples lives, would occur late in life, even with some of them not actually living to see it.

Long term preparation! Not a preparation that can be accomplished in a moment.

If this is correct, we need to understand that what was intended for the apostles, in the Lord’s call for their character, is not something we should dismiss. Be prepared for His ultimate coming, for I can promise you that His coming will be within your lifetime, (or one nanosecond later!)

Get right with Him, walk with Him, beg for wisdom in living a life of preparedness and watchfulness.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Be in Readiness

Our last parable spoke of watchful servants and the timing of the coming of the Son of man. The message was “Expect Him when you least expect Him”. Immediately after that message, the Lord questions His disciples of what “the Faithful and Wise” servant was. Recall in the last parable we had a master of the house that should have stayed awake. In this parable, the master of the house has left the household and placed responsibility on the servant. But I am getting ahead of myself. Lets read the passage.

Matthew 24:45-51

45 “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? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Peter was beginning to wonder about the intended audience of the last parable and Luke records that prior to the giving of this parable, Peter requested some clarification

Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” – Luk 12:41 ESV

Jesus did not answer other that the following parable describing of the wise and faithful servant. Do we need to see in Peter the same motivation we may have, of avoiding the finger being pointed at us? Is this question revealing a motivation to avoid responsibility? I know I am in that camp!

When did the Lord give this parable?

I presume this parable was given directly after the previous one. Jesus is teaching of not only the unknown timing of His return, but in this parable, of the results of not being ready. The consequences of the servant not being ready.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Since we are understanding this parable to be directly after the previous one, the location of outside the temple, on the Mount of Olives, is best to be understood

Why did the Lord give this message?

The Lord is warning His disciples of the deadly consequence of assuming the Master’s delay in His return.

What was the message for the original audience?

Notice the parable speaks of a wise and faithful servant being compared to a wicked servant.

The Wise and Faithful Servant

First, lets consider the wise and faithful servant. His only responsibility is to give his fellow servants food at the proper time. The servant needs to go out and earn a wage, raise the cattle, grow the wheat, harvest the fields, mill the grain, slaughter the animals, cook the meals and feed the servants.

Is that how you read it?

The wise and faithful servant was to give his fellow servants food, at a proper time. The verb is give, not supply or provide. The servant was to take of the Masters plenty and distribute the Master’s food at a proper time. This servant is not required to produce the food, simply to distribute the food at the proper time.

This is a management of resources position, a position of responsibility in distributing the Master’s provision to the Master’s servants. There would be a time when distributing the food would be correct, and there would be times when distributing the food would be wrong. That is the very definition of “proper time”!

Let’s continue this train of thought below, in “What is the message for us today?”, and consider the reward granted the wise servant.

Reward?

The wise and faithful servant will receive greater responsibility when the Master returns. The reward is more responsibility!

What? Where are the riches, the possessions, the houses and lands?

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. – Luke 16:10 ESV

The Wicked Servant

The wicked servant follows through on an assumption that the Master will be delayed. Critical error, for this thinking justifies his following actions, and to abdicate his responsibilities.

The wicked servant begins to beat his fellow servants.

In the kingdom, when a servant turns to bad thinking, those who continue to think properly become the enemy. This difference in thought becomes the catalyst for the wicked servant to reject his fellow servants. Rejecting his fellow servants eventually grows into a physical response against his fellow servants.

The wicked servant not only rejects his fellow servants, but joins those who eat and drink without restraint. Remember the servants one responsibility is to distribute food in a timely fashion, or at a proper time. This servant, having become wicked through wrong thoughts, has thrown out all restraint, and is possibly giving the Masters food and drink to drunkards. He has abandoned his fellow servants, beaten them and migrated his affections to drunkards, joining them in their short sighted and dangerous life.

Rewards?

The wicked servant will be cut in pieces, placed with the hypocrites. In the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth!

Cut in pieces! This may be referring to the Hebrews most cruel method of punishment.

And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the LORD in Gilgal. – 1Sa 15:33 ESV

This term, cutting in pieces, may be referring to one of two actions. To be cut in pieces may speak of the complete cutting in half of the victim. The other is that the victim is cut up by scourging. Either one is completely undesirable! Either consequence is to be avoided at all cost!

But notice, that after being cut in pieces, the wicked servant is placed with the hypocrites, those drunkards and gluttons he associated with (?) in a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Check out Parable Surprises – Wedding Banquet for information on gnashing and weeping.

Two servants. Two rewards. One decision. One decision makes the difference. That decision was to assume the delay of the Master.

What is the message for us today?

Proper Time

What is the importance of the reference to “proper time” in the servants duties? Are we instructed, in wisdom, to give out a message at a proper time? Is there a time when we should restrict the message? To be clear, I am assuming the “food of the Master” that is to be given out to others is synonymous to the message we have been given. The truth of the Word.

Consider

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. – Matthew 7:6 ESV

What was Jesus referring to here? Is there a time to restrict providing the Word to some? Since wisdom is required, lets see if the proverbs may help us!

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. – Pro 9:7 ESV

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words. – Pro 23:9 ESV

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. – Pro 26:4 ESV

If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet. – Pro 29:9 ESV

Don’t get me wrong. Preaching the word is to be done in season and out of season. This command was given to Timothy, a pastor of a local church. The gospel is for all.

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. – 2Ti 4:2 ESV

Was this command to Timothy to preach the Word intended only for those within the church, or beyond the walls and into the culture he lived in? It appears to be for those who are in the church, since Paul warns them of them turning away from listening to the truth.

and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. – 2Ti 4:4 ESV

And yet the proverbs above, (and our subject parable) speaks of proper times of giving out “food”.

As I have walked this pilgrim way, I have come to recognize that some that I share with simply mock, or reject the message. Previously, I entered into arguments with those who were of differing opinions. Surely I could convince them!

That is until I read the reason Jesus taught in parables. He gave truth to all, but in a manner that caused those who were hungry and thirsty for truth to pursue the topic. The parables were Jesus method (at least one method) of weeding out those who could care less, of teaching only the teachable. Consider Parable Surprises – Why? for a fuller explanation of this truth.

Since then, I have used this method falteringly, and have found various results. When I provide a story speaking of a difficult teaching, those who have an interest, follow up with me. Those who have no interest, move on to other topics.

I am sure it is my weakness in using this method that results in the low response rate, and not the present condition of this generation towards the things of God. Oh, to have the skill of telling stories that cause questions in the hearer!

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth (for whom?)

This message speaks of a servant suffering with the hypocrite? But I have a question for my reader.

Are we to equate the servants in this parable with New Testament believers? If so, this causes me pause. Can a New Testament believer suffer weeping and gnashing of teeth?

Are we to equate the servants in this parable to non-believers? If the servants are not New Testament believers, how does this apply to us today? In other words, what was the purpose of the parable if it was intended for non-believers!

Let’s cut to the chase! This parable speaks of two types of servants. The difference? One assumption! That one assumption led to further decisions for the wicked servant to abandon his responsibilities, and join a wasteful and thankless gang.

Don’t assume the delay of the Master. His timing is unknown, per the last parable, and that is the Master’s decision. When (not if) to come is His prerogative. Whether He comes today or in ten thousand years is His decision alone, and we can not know it! Our responsibility is to trust His coming may be any day, and that He is not delaying His coming. Out of that belief, we will naturally seek to “provide food” to others in the proper time!

Thanks for joining me in this parable, and if you have a comment, please provide in the comments section below.


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New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Watchful Servants

So much in this parable. I will find it difficult to stay focused on my 5 questions, since there are so many issues within the parable that I have had to reconsider as I try to understand it. Of course, lets first read it and then venture into my quandaries.

Matthew 24:36-44

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

As mentioned in my previous post on the parables, this parable was given to His disciples.

When did the Lord give this parable?

Jesus gave this parable to the disciples under the shadow of the cross, within a week of his passion.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

As per the previous parable, the location was the same, that is, on the Mount of Olives.

Why did the Lord give this message?

Jesus was teaching to the questions the disciples asked at the start of the chapter.

  • When will these things be?
  • What will be the sign of your coming?
  • (What will be the sign) of the end of the age?

Considering the content of this parable, and the opening statement regarding the timing of “these things” (see Matthew 24:34), timing is the topic. And the unknown timing is the message of the parable!

What was the message for the original audience?

Before judgement, everything is normal.

People do not get married when they expect judgment to be imminent! But those in Noah’s day were gittin hitched! The folks before the flood, even on the day the flood erupted, were going about, eating and drinking, living their lives like they did the day before and “knowing” that tomorrow was just around the corner.

Jesus tells us they were unaware! (But how could that be Carl – Noah had been preaching for decades!)

and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. – Mat 24:39 ESV

Matthew 24:40 & 41 were some of my favorite verses to pull in order to prove the pre-tribulational rapture of believers, of those who were “taken”.

Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. – Mat 24:40-41 ESV

Early on in my Christian life, I was instructed that those “taken” would be the believers in the rapture, and it seemed to fit all my hopes and desires. Too bad I read the context and came away with a different understanding. Note that the previous verse refers to the flood sweeping them all away. We have to determine if Jesus referred to the ones “taken” as being those who were swept away (in judgement) or those that were safe in the ark.

Personally, I do not see the reference of being “swept away” as being equal with being “left”. I understand the one “taken” is equivalent to the ones swept away during Noah’s flood. Therefore, in the above verse, when considering the coming of the Son of Man, the ones taken will be those who are taken for judgement. Those that are “left”, are left to serve, honor and follow after the One who has delivered his Church from judgement.

The message is reiterated in verse 42, where the Lord summarizes the intent of the parable.

Stay awake! You don’t know when He is coming!

Why hasn’t this timing been supplied to believers? Even the Son of Man, at the time of this telling, did not have this information. Verse 43 teaches us that if we knew when He was coming, we would sleep until then! Sure, we would wake up minutes before He came, but what loss, what regret, what failure!

Our not knowing is for our benefit, as it is with all of God’s dealings with us!

What is the message for us today?

Stay awake!

Such a simple command to repeat! But this is long haul Christianity, not flash in the pan stuff. I have often heard that the Christian life is a marathon, and not simply a sprint race. So it is!

Have you on a work day, right after lunch, got a touch of the drowzies?

Well, I just came home from a day of battling the drowzies. Tiredness, like hunger and thirst, are seemingly uncontrollable influences on the human body. A constant battle to not only keep the eyes open but to keep the mind focused and the body alert. The defenses are weakened (I tend to be more sarcastic when tired!), along with experiencing a lack of concern (a bit apathetic, I admit it), a tendency to postpone tasks, or just to simply ignore the demands of the day! This is what we need to battle! (I admit to none of this!!!)

How does this apply to our Christian life. Are there periods or tiredness in our walk with the Lord? Of course. Tiredness is understood and our human weakness often overcomes our willing spirit.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Mat 26:41 ESV

This fact of our weak condition only magnifies the importance of this parable. We do not know when He will come. As a matter of fact, we need to expect Him when we least expect Him.

What? How can we do that. Do not assign any importance to any “sign” others claim as an indicator of His coming. Supposed signs are a distraction to simple obedience!

Do you see signs of His coming? If those signs fade, does His coming become less “apparent”?

Comment below if you think something in the news may be directing us to know of the timing of His coming. Although it may seem I am confident in this stance, please rest assured that I am open to discussion!

By the way, when was the specific coming of the Son referred to above? Could it have been within “this generation” that He spoke of in the previous parable? Could it have been within the lifetimes of those who heard His message while He was on earth?

Questions.

More questions than I have answers to, but may it be possible that the audience of His day understood this parable as His coming to be within their lifetime? If so, how does this impact our common understanding of this parable being applied for our generation?


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New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Fig Tree

For decades, this set of verses were my “go to” verses to speak of the pretribulational rapture and coming of the Lord within my lifetime.

It was obvious, wasn’t it, that as the Jewish population had come back from the four corners of the earth to the land of Israel, and that this occurrence was equivalent to the branch becoming tender, and of the leaves sprouting forth.

Nevermind that I had to make two assumptions.

  1. The fig tree was Israel.
  2. The Lord was teaching His audience of something they would never experience.
    1. this generation, or that generation! Oh bother, what generation was He referring to

These unwarranted assumptions became evident decades into my walk of faith, and initiated my rethinking of the dispensational theology that I have since abandoned.

Lets read the parable and try to find it’s context, and what it meant to those who heard it, and what is the message we need to hear today.

Matthew 24:32-35

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Jesus no longer was teaching in the temple. He had left the temple, having given the Jewish leaders stories directly related to them. Prophecies in parables, speaking of the leaders judgement, and of the coming doom of their nation. Jesus’ focus shifted the His disciples, as Matthew 24:3 states

3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” – Mat 24:3 ESV

The disciples caught the message, but still had questions. The temple! What of the temple? Had not the Jewish people fallen into the same thinking as those of old, when they thought the temple was their security. (Check out my four part series Jeremiah 7 – The Temple of the Lord)

Is this not the security of the nation, the fact that God resides in His temple? Little did they recognize that God had just left the temple, and was going to isolate His teaching to His disciples until the end.

When did the Lord give this parable?

Matthew 24 was given to the disciples within the last seven days of our Lords earthly life, prior to the cross.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

As Matthew 24:3 teaches, the Lord gave this teaching on the Mount of Olives, outside of Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

Jesus was answering three questions the disciples had for Him.

  • When will these things be?
  • What will be the sign of your coming?
  • (What will be the sign) of the end of the age?

This particular portion of Matthew 24 is speaking of the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:30) , and of the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens. This seems to directly relate to our second point. That is, the fig tree parable is a response to the question of the sign of the coming of the Son of Man.

The fig tree. That is surely a reference to the nation of Israel. Or is it? Lets check it out.

What was the message for the original audience?

A Fig Tree as a Symbol of Israel?

Occasionally the scriptures will refer to the people of a nation as living in safety, and a sign of this as every man being under his fig tree. A sign of prosperity for each man, but not a symbol of the nation.

And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon. – 1Ki 4:25 ESV

but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. – Mic 4:4 ESV

Hosea likens Israel to grapes and the individual leaders (fathers) to the first fruit on the fig tree.

Like grapes in the wilderness, I found Israel. Like the first fruit on the fig tree in its first season, I saw your fathers…. – Hos 9:10 ESV

So why did the Lord use the fig tree to give us this parable if He didn’t intend for us to understand it as a reference to the nation of Israel? Consider the same parable provided by Luke, and it’s opening statement

And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. – Luke 21:29 ESV

As we can see in the Gospel of Luke, the message was intended as a general teaching of nature, somewhat similar to the lessons that could be learned of the the sky at night. He was teaching a general truth and applying it to the specific situation for the disciples benefit.

This or That?

For those who fear grammar, please stick around. This won’t hurt that bad.

As the graphic illustrates, “this” refers to something near (in time of space), whereas “that” refers to something distant (in time or space)

When the Lord referred to “this generation” in the parable, what generation was He referring to? It seems obvious to me that the generation He was referring to was the one that was closest to Him, that was hearing His teaching during His life.

Consider the following passages that Matthew used “this generation” and check if this makes sense for yourself

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, – Mat 11:16
The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. – Mat 12:41-42
Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. – Mat 23:36

Sadly, I cannot find any reference to the Lord using the term “that generation” within the gospels. It seems He was focusing His message to the generation He was closest to. The generation that He was present with, and had heard His message in the temple, in the cities, in the fields and on the roads.

Jesus was teaching his disciples of the nearness of the temples destruction, in response to their confidence in the temple’s permanence.

What is the message for us today?

What is permanent in your world? What in your mind is enduring, unfading, constant, fixed?

Oh, we may have lived long prosperous lives, but let us not fall into the same trap that the disciples had fallen into. Permanence is an illusion in this life, and we trust in many things as if they were permanent.

Consider…

  • Is your church permanent? No
  • Is your family permanent? No
  • Is your job permanent? No
  • Is your home permanent? No
  • Is your nation permanent? No
  • Is your life permanent? No

What hope do we have? What can we look to for permanence in this temporary life? Let me ask you – Is Jesus permanent?

Cling to Him, for His permanence is our only hope in this life and the next!


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New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Wedding Banquet

Weddings are awesome, but sometimes full of tension and surprises. To plan a wedding is one of the more complex projects I have been involved with. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being involved with my girls in their wedding plans and taking part in the work, creating memories that will remain with them forever.

This parable speaks of a King throwing a wedding, having completed all the preparations, and offering a celebration to His people.

But something goes wrong. Terribly wrong. Let’s read the passage and consider the message.

Matthew 22:2-14

2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”‘ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

This parable is directed to “them”, referring to the audience in the previous parable. See Parable Surprises Wicked Servants

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was delivered to the nation and people of Israel as Jesus was preparing to establish the eternal kingdom through His death.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

It appears this parable was provided in the temple, as it continues from previous parables.

Why did the Lord give this message?

The previous parable was given as a warning of the rejection of the Son by the Jewish leadership and the plea for individuals to flee the sinking ship and to “fall on the stone”

This parable introduces the Lord as the King’s Son, and the central figure in the wedding prophecies throughout the Old Testament. Rejection of the invite and the resulting judgement on the nation is again spoken of, and yet the hope of an expansion of the wedding is offered. In the end, He warns of fakers, those who don’t have the wedding garment that was provided.

What was the message for the original audience?

There are a number of messages the Lord provided to the audience that day. Lets peruse the parable and find each.

As I mentioned above, Jesus introduces Himself as the Kings Son, and in saying this, He is declaring to His enemies the very truth that will lead to His death. That He is the King, and no other!

The second truth expressed may be found in verses 3 – 6, where Jesus speaks of the invite to the “bidden”, those who had been called to the wedding feast, as simply not coming. Again, just prior to the beginning of the feast the King sent forth servants again to invite the “bidden” to come to a feast already prepared, ready for a celebration Those “bidden” made light of the invitation, ignoring the invitation and continued on with their daily drudgery of farms and business. But this time, a portion of those who paid no attention to the invitation, went beyond simply ignoring the invitation, and continued into aggression upon those servants inviting them. To the death. Let’s get this straight – a portion of the invited, those “bidden” to the wedding celebration, slew the servants of the King. This group hearkens back to our previous parable.

The third truth may be found in verses 7-9, and speaks of the overflowing grace of the King. Note that although judgement must be meted out to those murderers, the King’s ongoing attitude was not of bitterness and anger, but to find some way to lavish His grace upon a people, no matter their standing. The servants went out and gathered “all whom they found, both bad and good”. The wedding hall was filled with guests! I can’t help but to see this as referring to the gospel call after the Lord’s rejection, beating, crucifixion and resurrection. Not only from those within the nation doomed to destruction, but to all those that the servants could gather.

In the final section Jesus focusses in on one lone individual. A man who had been invited. A man without a wedding garment. Although the passage does not state where the wedding garments came from, it is my understanding that the garments were provided by the host, that is, by the King Himself. The garments were basic robes that all attendees wore that would hide rank or status in life, thereby removing barriers to freely enjoy each others company.

When the King saw a man who was not wearing the provided garment, He questioned him.

Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?

You see, this man was blatantly expressing his rejection of the Kings provision by not wearing the garment. He may have been too proud to cover up his own status in life, his own garment may have been such that it exalted his own status in life over other attendees. At the very least, he rejected the Kings offer, and did not want to identify with the other wedding guests This may have been his motive and his path to doom, of his being cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

He was rejected from the wedding feast and cast into the outer darkness. But what is the outer darkness, that has this weeping and gnashing of teeth?

The term “outer darkness” is found three times in the Word, each time in the gospel of Matthew. (Darkness, of course is found many more times, but I am simply looking for clues on the specific term “outer darkness”.)

12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Mat 8:12 ESV
13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ – Mat 22:13 ESV
30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ – Mat 25:30 ESV

“Weeping and gnashing of teeth” (not including the phrase “outer darkness” as in the verses above) may be found an additional three times in Matthew and once in Luke.

42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. … 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. – Mat 13:42, 50 ESV
51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. – Mat 24:51 ESV
28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. – Luke 13:28 ESV

I find it interesting that the term weeping and gnashing of teeth is so specific. Let’s take a moment to look at these terms to see if the New Testament can shed some light onto our understanding.

Weeping.

When I read this parable initially, I associated pain with the weeping. But is that the intended meaning of the term, or is it the image we have imported, including the associated pain we have been taught of. When I am in pain, I may cry in the midst of the pain, and this may be synonymous with weeping, but is this the intended meaning here?

The term “weeping” is the greek work klauthmos and is used only in the above verses, and the two following passages.

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” – Mat 2:18 ESV
And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, – Act 20:37 ESV

These verses are instructive since they provide a background and reason for the experience of weeping. For Rachel it was the death of her children. Much sorrow and sadness. For the elders in Ephesus, again, it was sorrow and sadness of not seeing the beloved apostle Paul again that caused the weeping. As we can see from the two available passages above, the term “weeping” is associated with sadness or sorrow. The root word for “klauthmos” is “klaiō” (G2799) and has many more verses that would support this general conclusion. I will leave it to the reader for further study if of interest.

Gnashing

The term “gnashing” is a translation of the Greek word brygmos (G1030), from the root word brychō, (G1031)

Brygmos is only found in the seven verses provided above, and are descriptive of some emotion that I associate with pain and suffering. I refer to Matthew 13:42, 50, where the passage speaks of a fiery furnace. The associated pain of fire must be where I am linking this gnashing of teeth with suffering.

42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. … 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. – Matthew 13:42, 50 ESV

But I am still looking for a bit more definition. After all, Matthew 13:42,50 may be referring to multiple emotions and not necessarily linking the pain of the fire with the gnashing of teeth. There may be more going on, i.e. the suffering of fire AND an emotion associated with the gnashing of teeth. After all, we have found that weeping is generally associated with sadness, and may be experienced at the same time as suffering pain.

So in my research, I found one time where the root word for gnashing appears in the New Testament, and to be honest, it is quite surprizing.

brychō

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. – Act 7:54 ESV

Stephen is giving his defense to the high priest and Sanhedrin, and with his defense, his audience “ground/gnashed their teeth” Why you ask? Were they suffering eternal pain and torment. No – They were enraged! Furious! Stephens defense condemned the Jewish leadership and they had had enough. Three verses later, Luke records the leadership…

cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.

These guys were blind with rage! Murderous rage. The gnashing of teeth is associated with rage, anger, fury!

In conclusion, was Jesus describing the outer darkness as a place of sadness and sorrow, combined with anger and rage? You be the judge.

Now before some may claim I am trying to remove pain, suffering and torment from hell, (the “outer darkess”?), please rest assured that this little study is focused on the emotions described in this parable, and is not intending to limit the emotions or experiences that await those who may suffer in Gehenna.

What is the message for us today?

Two messages come to mind for me, and hopefully for you.

Heed the Invite

First, don’t ignore the invitation! Ignoring the invitation is rejecting the invitation. I speak to those who know not the Lord. If you have not sought out His grace and found Him – Seek Him. He has provided the invitation, but no response from you, no desire to accept this invite is a repitition of those who “went on their way” in the parable. No good results come from that! Therefore

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; Isaiah 55:6

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

I also speak to those know the Lord. Seek the Lord. Do not ignore your part of the relationship with the Lord of glory. Don’t ignore Him and drift off to destruction.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Hebrew 2:1

We must remember that He is a God who rewards those who seek Him. There is danger to avoid and rewards to be gained in seeking Him. To knowing Him.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrew 11:6

Understand the Alternative

The alternative to seeking the Lord, to accepting the invite, is to reject the invite from the King.

Now I want you to know that I have two daughters, and we have sent out invitations for thier weddings to many friends and relatives. Some ignored the invitation, and that saddened us, but we didn’t go to thier town and burn it down.

You see, I am not a King.

I am just a poor ol’ fella that wanted to celebrate my little girl’s “happy day” and share it with others. I had no authority over those I invited. If they didn’t respond and come to the celebration, it was, at most, simply a social embarrassment for our family. At the least, we fully understood and accepted the guests declining the invitation as something they could not comply with.

But again, I am not a King.

Not so with Jesus. Jesus is declaring His authority over all those “bidden” to the wedding and clearly stating that ignoring the invite is an affront on his Kingdom. This does not bode well for those who ignore his grace.

The result of rejection, specifically in this parable is destruction, sorrow and rage. Other passages describe the suffering due to the rejection of the King in many other ways, but for this parable, this passage expanded my view of the consequences of rejection. When I considered the afterlife of those who reject the King, sorrow and rage did not come to my mind.

Have you considered the multiple results of the rejection of the One?

Choose life and not death. Choose the King!


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