"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'Matthew 25:23(NASB)
Like all the synoptic writings, the main function of Matthew was to preach the pre-Cross gospel of the kingdom which was primarily addressed to the Jews, with a message of hope for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Although there are many valuable lessons that Church-age saints can learn from this passage, both the parable of the ten virgins and the parable of the good and evil servants, are related to Israel, Christ's second coming, and the good news of the kingdom of heaven on earth. Christ is the rightful Messiah of Israel and King of the Jews Who is coming in the clouds of glory to set up the prophesied, millennial kingdom of heaven, on earth. The Bible tells us that this will happen at the end of the Great Tribulation period - which is described in detail in Matthew chapter 24.
In context, these two well-known parables are written, following Christ's detailed discourse on the Great Tribulation. God will use this period to return the apostate nation of Israel to Himself. It is the time of great hardship and trouble, when God will test their faithfulness. He will also reinstate the responsibility of preaching the gospel of the kingdom to the four corners of the earth. Old Testament prophets call this the Time of Jacob's Trouble.
The parable of the ten virgins illustrates Christ return to earth with His Bride - which is the Church. The ten virgins portray two types of waiting Jews 1) those that are spiritual and 2) those that are carnal. It is followed by the parable of the faithful and foolish steward, which represents God's judgement of all Jews, (both spiritual and carnal), who survive this terrible time of Jacob's Trouble. As Christians we are certainly called to be watchful and can learn many lessons from this passage, but in its correct historical context, these are parables about Christ's return to earth in power and great glory to set up His earthly kingdom.
The final section following the two parables, relates to the judgements of Gentiles who survived the wrath of God during the Great Tribulation, and who are identified as 'sheep' or 'goats'. The 'sheep', who represent those who aided Israel during the Tribulation, will enter the Millennium and become subjects of King Jesus in His earthly kingdom. The 'goats' however, portray those who were hostile to the people of God during the Tribulation period. They will be banished to the fires of hell, where they will await God's last and final judgement - the Great White Throne Judgement, where they will be judged for their 'works', 1000 years later.
The contrasting characters of the two types of servants in this passage are clearly defined. The wise servants are those who knew and honoured their Master and followed the Word of God during the Tribulation period, by carrying out the work of the kingdom which was entrusted to them in His absence. They will enter the kingdom of heaven and be assigned responsibilities in the millennial kingdom. They will be rewarded and praised by the Lord Jesus Who will say, "well done, good and faithful servant."
The evil servants are those who dishonoured their Master during the Tribulation period, by mistreating their fellow-Jews, while eating and drinking with drunkards. They will disobey the Word of truth and unlike the faithful servants who obeyed God's Word, the evil servants will abuse their position of trust and ignore the instructions of their God and Saviour, and will be judged accordingly.
Although this passage is directed to Israel, there are many lessons for Christians to learn. We have the choice to be a spiritual Christian or a carnal believer. We can choose to live our life in spirit and truth, honour the Lord in all we do, and receive a reward, or we can deny the Lord Who bought us and suffer loss of reward at the Bema seat of Christ - eternally saved but suffering loss of reward. Depending on the life we live, Christians can be faithful to our calling or we can dishonour the Lord Who bought us.
We can grow in grace as we abide in Christ, (and receive a reward) OR we can spend our Christian life in spiritual infancy as we ignore His Word and grieve the Holy Spirit, Who indwells us. (and suffer loss of reward at the judgement seat of Christ). We can die to self and live for Christ or we can live for self and watch all our fleshly works burn in the refining fire of God, at the Bema seat of Christ - saved by grace, yet as though by fire.
May we live, day by day, in spirit and truth and endeavour to carry out the good works that God has prepared for us to do... by His grace, in His power, and for His glory. Let us seek to live godly lives, not living in our own fleshly strength or for our own honour and praise. May we all hear the voice of our Saviour say to each one of us, "well done, good and faithful servant," as we enter fully into His wonderful joy.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the Word of truth and the many lessons that it contains for our learning. Thank You for this amazing passage which takes us, step by step, through the prophesied events of the Great Tribulation, and the things that will take place when Israel returns to You, and cries out to You for salvation - when Christ returns to earth, in power and great glory, to set up His millennial rule on earth. Teach me all that I should learn, and enable me to live my life according to Your perfect plans and purposes during this Church dispensation. May I watch for Christ's any day return for His Church, and give me an opportunity to share the good news of the gospel of grace with a world that has been blinded by the evil one. Help me to do only those things that are righteous in Your eyes, and to watch for Your any day return so that I may hear You say, "well done," when I stand before You. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.