- Sermon Notes
Be Ready for the Last Days
In these verses Jesus is giving a message to His disciples which we now call the Olivet Discourse. He was on the Mount of Olives having just come from Jerusalem where He prophesied that the city of Jerusalem and the Temple itself would be destroyed, “Not one stone left upon another,” Jesus said.The disciples then asked, “Tell us, when will these things be and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus then gives the famous “signs of the times” in Matthew 24 that we might discern and understand the conditions of things in the world that will indicate we are in the last days, saying, “When you see these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.”
Jesus said that there will be many false prophets and false messiahs who will mislead many. There will be wars and rumors of war. There will be famines and earthquakes that will grow greater in intensity and be closer together as the events of the last days draw near. There will be a great falling away, or apostasy, as unrighteousness and worldliness increases, and most people’s love will grow cold.
Jesus then gave several parables on the importance of watching for the return of the Son of Man and being ready for the last days.
He said, “The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah before the flood. They were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage and did not understand until the flood came and took them all away.”
He said that the Lord will come like a thief in the night. “If the master of the house had known what hour the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert. For this reason, you too be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you did not think He will.”
However, it’s important to understand that God gives us the signs of the times in advance so that the Day of the Lord will not come upon us like a thief in the night…
1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4-5, You yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night… But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day.
In chapter 25, Jesus gives parables about the importance of watching and waiting and being ready for the last days. These parables tell us what God wants us to do with our lives while we’re waiting for His return.
It’s about how you spend the life that God has given you while you wait for His return. There is a day fixed when we will give an account of how we lived. He has entrusted much into our care and He expects us to live wisely.
I. Be Ready by Being Faithful
- Parables are given to teach one main point. We are not to torture a parable to extract nuances of theology.There is an old saying, “If you torture a parable long enough, it will confess to anything.”
- Jesus said that it is just like a man about to go on a journey. He called his servants to himself and entrusted his possessions to them.
- To onehe gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability. A talent is a measure of gold, silver, or copper by weight.
- Many years ago, when I first read this parable, I didn’t know what a talent was and assumed it meant the gifts and abilities God had given me.
- What’s interesting is that our modern word ‘talent’ comes from this very verse. Originally it meant ‘a weight of money,’ the value was determined by whether the talent was gold, silver, or copper.
- If it wasn’t specified, a talent was usually silver. At today’s silver prices, a talent of silver would be worth about $20,000. In Jesus’s time, a talent of silver would be worth about 20 years wages and even at today’s minimum wage that would be about $350,000.
- Here’s the point of the parable; while we’re waiting and watching for the return of Christ…
A. God expects you to spend your life well
- God gave you your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength and expects you to use those things for His glory.
- He also gives you abilities and capacities to learn and to grow and expects you to use that for His glory as well.
Luke 12:48, … From everyone who has been given much, much will be expected.
- The wise servant is the one who received from his master and then invested it. In other words, he did something with it, which then produced something more.
- Perhaps he invested in a crop, or something similar, but the idea is that he put it somewhere where it could grow and bear much fruit.
- The point is to be about your Father’s business. Invest your life. What is your Father doing? He’s changing lives and that’s what He wants you to be doing as well.
Illus – Why does God gives spiritual gifts to the church? Every spiritual gift is given for the purpose of building up and edifying the church.
- It’s all about being faithful to what God has asked us to do with our lives.
- Why are some people not making a difference or producing godly fruit? Jesus explained…
Luke 8:14, “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard the Word, but as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life and bring no fruit to maturity.”
James 4:3, You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
- Notice also that he gives according to their abilities. We could be jealous over other people’s abilities, but it would just take away from our own faithfulness to what we have been given.
Illus – I remember a critical turning point in my life when a pastor challenged me to have something to show for how I spent my life.
Illus – I also remember another pastor who challenged me to use what God had given me for His glory.
B. God blesses faithfulness
- This is one of those themes that we see over and over in the Word of God; God blesses faithfulness.
- We see it again in this parable. The man entrusted his possessions to his servants and expected them to produce an increase with how they lived their lives. But then they must give an account, but also receive rewards.
- In this parable, the master accused the servant who buried his talent of being a wicked, lazy servant because he didn’t do the simplest thing with what he had been given.
Illus – When the man buried that talent in the ground, what then did he do with his time? Did he become a master of videogames? A social media diva? A tweeter of Twitter?
Some people blame others. That’s what the servant with the one talent did when he said, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, and I was afraid.” So it was the master’s fault?
Some doubt the gift God has given and thus they doubt the One who gave it.
Others don’t do anything because they believe their life is of little value. But God gave His Son for you, gave you His Word, gave His Holy Spirit, and the very life you live. It came from God, it has great value.
- One of the greatest rewards you could ever receive would be to hear the words in verse 21, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.”
- We may not fully understand what it means to have rewards in heaven, but one thing is for certain, we should desire them.
Matthew 6:20, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Luke 12:34-37, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.Be like men who are waiting for the master when he returns, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.Blessed are those servants whom the master will find on the alert when he comes…”
II. Live as Unto the Lord
- When the Son of Man comes in His glory all the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate them from one another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
- The sheep and the goats are separated one by one; the sheep are the believers, Christians, who will receive rewards according to their faithfulness.
- The goats, or unbelievers, are those who have not accepted God’s offer of life. They will be separated and will receive the condemnation Jesus speaks of here in this parable.
- The sheep, the believers, are commended because they blessed the King. How? When they helped the poor, the hungry, the strangers or those who were sick or in prison.
A. Bless Jesus by blessing the least
- Verse 34 – the King will say to those on His right, “I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in…”
- Then the righteous will ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you?” And Jesus answered, “What you’ve done to the least of these brothers of Mine, you’ve done it unto Me.”
- Jesus has a heart for the least and wants us to have that same heart as well.
- The problem is that we live in a society that is fixated on the wealthiest and most important people. The media tracks their movements, whole magazines are written so people can follow their lives; the more important, the better.
Illus – Which reminds me of the story of when the Pope was visiting a foreign country and had to return quickly to the airport…
- James wrote of the right heart, the right attitude that believers should have…
James 2:1, 5-6, My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism… Listen, my beloved brethren; did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?Do not dishonor a poor man.
- The point of the parable is that we should have the same heart as the Lord and that whatever we do; we should do for the Lord rather than for men.
Colossians 3:23 -24, Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
B. What you don’t do is also important
- Scripture tells us that what you don’t do is as important as what you do.
- This is the sin of omission, knowing the right thing that God wants you to do but not doing it.
James 4:17, Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
- Others might see the vastness of the all the problems in this world and wonder what difference they could make; so why even try?
Illus- I remember hearing the story of a grandfather walking with his grandson on the beach after a storm had washed thousands of starfish onto the sand to die in the hot sun…
- How we live our life matters to God. He wants us to watch, be ready, and be found faithful.
Galatians 6:9, Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we did not grow weary.
Matthew 25:13-46 NASB
13 Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. 14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.15 To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16 Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17 In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. 18 But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
30 Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 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, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ 41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”