25 Jesus: Or picture the kingdom of heaven this way. It will be like ten bridesmaids who each picked up a lantern and went out to meet a certain bridegroom. 2-4 Five of these women were sensible, good with details, and remembered to bring small flasks of oil for their lanterns. But five of them were flighty, too caught up in the excitement of their jaunt, and forgot to bring oil with them. 5 The bridegroom did not turn up right away. Indeed, all the women, while waiting, found themselves falling asleep. 6 And then in the middle of the night, they heard someone call, “The bridegroom is here, finally! Wake up and greet him!” 7 The women got up and trimmed the wicks of their lanterns and prepared to go greet the groom. 8 The five women who had no oil turned to their friends for help.
Ill-prepared Bridesmaids: Please give us some of your oil! Our lanterns are flickering and will go out soon.
9 But the five women who’d come prepared with oil said they didn’t have enough.
Prepared Bridesmaids: If we give you some of our oil, we’ll all run out too soon! You’d better go wake up a dealer and buy your own supply.
10 So the five ill-prepared women went in search of oil to buy, and while they were gone, the groom arrived. The five who stood ready with their lanterns accompanied him to the wedding party, and after they arrived, the door was shut.
11 Finally the rest of the women turned up at the party. They knocked on the door.
Ill-prepared Bridesmaids: Master, open up and let us in!
Bridegroom (refusing): 12 I certainly don’t know you.
13 So stay awake; you neither know the day nor hour [when the Son of Man will come].[a]
Jesus provides a picture of the coming reality of the kingdom of heaven. As they approach the time of His sacrifice, Jesus makes sure the disciples know that soon it will be too late; the door of opportunity will close, and for many the door will remain shut. He gives them another image of the same reality to bring the picture into focus. Once they were bridesmaids waiting for their bridegroom; now they are slaves waiting for their Master. This time they are given responsibilities that will be rewarded. The blessings of the Kingdom bring risks along with the benefits.
Jesus: 14 This is how it will be. It will be like a landowner who is going on a trip. He instructed his slaves about caring for his property. 15 He gave five talents to one slave, two to the next, and then one talent to the last slave—each according to his ability. Then the man left.
16 Promptly the man who had been given five talents went out and bartered and sold and turned his five talents into ten. 17 And the one who had received two talents went to the market and turned his two into four. 18 And the slave who had received just one talent? He dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money there.
19 Eventually the master came back from his travels, found his slaves, and settled up with them. 20 The slave who had been given five talents came forward and told his master how he’d turned five into ten; then he handed the whole lot over to his master.
Master: 21 Excellent. You’ve proved yourself not only clever but loyal. You’ve executed a rather small task masterfully, so now I am going to put you in charge of something larger. But before you go back to work, come join my great feast and celebration.
22 Then the slave who had been given two talents came forward and told his master how he’d turned two into four, and he handed all four talents to his master.
Master: 23 Excellent. You’ve proved yourself not only clever but loyal. You’ve executed a rather small task masterfully, so now I am going to put you in charge of something larger. But before you go back to work, come join my great feast and celebration.
24 Finally the man who had been given one talent came forward.
Servant: Master, I know you are a hard man, difficult in every way. You can make a healthy sum when others would fail. You profit when other people are doing the work. You grow rich on the backs of others. 25 So I was afraid, dug a hole, and hid the talent in the ground. Here it is. You can have it.
26 The master was furious.
Master: You are a pathetic excuse for a servant! You have disproved my trust in you and squandered my generosity. You know I always make a profit! 27 You could have at least put this talent in the bank; then I could have earned a little interest on it! 28 Take that one talent away, and give it to the servant who doubled my money from five to ten.
29 You see, everything was taken away from the man who had nothing, but the man who had something got even more. 30 And as for the slave who made no profit but buried his talent in the ground? His master ordered his slaves to tie him up and throw him outside into the utter darkness where there is miserable mourning and great fear.
31 When the Son of Man comes in all His majesty accompanied by throngs of heavenly messengers, His throne will be wondrous. 32 All the nations will assemble before Him, and He will judge them, distinguishing them from one another as a shepherd isolates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put some, the sheep, at His right hand and some, the goats, at His left. 34 Then the King will say to those to His right,
King: Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. 35 You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink. I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives. 36 I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me.
37 Even then the righteous will not have achieved perfect understanding and will not recall these things.
Righteous: Master, when did we find You hungry and give You food? When did we find You thirsty and slake Your thirst? 38 When did we find You a stranger and welcome You in, or find You naked and clothe You? 39 When did we find You sick and nurse You to health? When did we visit You when You were in prison?
King: 40 I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.
41 At that He will turn to those on His left hand.
King: Get away from Me, you despised people whom My Father has cursed. Claim your inheritance—the pits of flaming hell where the devil and his minions suffer. 42 For I was starving, and you left Me with no food. When I was dry and thirsty, you left Me to struggle with nothing to drink. 43 When I was alone as a stranger, you turned away from Me. When I was pitifully naked, you left Me unclothed. When I was sick, you gave Me no care. When I was in prison, you did not comfort Me.
Unrighteous: 44 Master, when did we see You hungry and thirsty? When did we see You friendless or homeless or excluded? When did we see You without clothes? When did we see You sick or in jail? When did we see You in distress and fail to respond?
King: 45 I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, when you saw a sister weak and without friends, when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, so you ignored Me.
46 So these, the goats, will go off to everlasting punishment. But the beloved, the sheep (the righteous), will go into everlasting life.
- 25:13 The earliest manuscripts omit this portion.