Background Considerations:

Noah announced the coming of a flood he had never seen. John the Baptist had the privilege of announcing the arrival of Someone he himself had never met. Today God calls for those who believe in his promise to declare his soon-coming even though they have not yet seen him face to face. In Revelation 19 the church is described as the bridegroom of Jesus, called to prepare herself to meet her husband. Like partners in an arranged marriage, we have heard about but not yet met our Lord.

The parables in Matthew 25 describe how we are to live while waiting for the return of Jesus. The first parable of the five wise and the five foolish women points to the need to be fully prepared-no point in bringing lamps without buying oil (25:1-13). To be partially prepared is to be unprepared. The second parable (25:14-30) calls for us to develop and to use the gifts and opportunities entrusted to us for the sake of the kingdom of God while we await the Lord’s return. In this parable each of three slaves is given a large sum of money by the master. The actual value of even one talent exceeds what an ordinary person could earn in an entire lifetime. How then should one handle such a large sum of money? Jesus makes it clear that a failure to invest what God has given us and even to take risks for the kingdom of heaven will incur the condemnation of the Master.

The coming of Jesus is described as a public event in the New Testament. By personally coming to welcome his own, he gives them great honor. The resurrection of the dead in connection with his coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) extends this public honor to all those who have died trusting in him. The night of his arrest he showed honor towards his disciples by stooping and washing the feet of each of them. This time he honors them again by giving them the red carpet treatment.

For Discussion:

  1. Living with the waiting: how does one wait? Is it a denial of faith to build sturdy and even beautiful buildings? What about saving for one’s retirement when the money could be invested in the spreading of the Gospel?
  2. Living with the waiting: how does one maintain a healthy attitude of expectancy over the long haul-for ten, twenty even fifty years or more?
  3. Why do you think Jesus comes personally to met his own rather than by some other way?

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