New Testament Lesson 22 (Matthew 25)
As He continued to teach the Apostles concerning the signs of His Second Coming, our Lord provided three important parables. These have direct application to the Saints in the latter days because they deal with circumstances in our own lifetimes. We would do well do give heed to their messages.
THREE PARABLES ABOUT THE LAST DAYS
Parable of the Ten Virgins
● The parable of the ten virgins is based on Jewish wedding customs in Jesus’ day (Matthew 25:1–13).
— The bridegroom and his friends escort the bride from her home to the home of the bridegroom.
— Along the way, the friends of the bride wait to join them.
— When they arrived at the bridegroom’s home, they go inside for the wedding
— These weddings usually took place in the evening, so those waiting for the bride and bridegroom carry small lamps fueled by oil.
— President Spencer W. Kimball said, “I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ and not the rank and file of the world. All of the virgins, wise and foolish, had accepted the invitation to the wedding supper; they had knowledge of the program and had been warned of the important day to come. They were not the gentiles or the heathens or the pagans, nor were they necessarily corrupt and reprobate, but they were knowing people who were foolishly unprepared for the vital happenings that were to affect their eternal lives. . . . Hundreds of thousands of us today are in this position. Confidence has been dulled and patience worn thin. It is so hard to wait and be prepared always. But we cannot allow ourselves to slumber. The Lord has given us this parable as a special warning.”1
— President Wilford Woodruff said, “The parable of the ten virgins is intended to represent the Second Coming of the Son of Man, the coming of the Bridegroom to meet the bride, the Church . . . ; and I expect that the Savior was about right when he said, in reference to the members of the Church, that five of them were wise and five were foolish; . . . if he finds one-half of those professing to be members of his Church prepared for salvation, it will be as many as can be expected, judging by the course that many are pursuing.”2
● The Doctrine and Covenants provides a modern-day interpretation of this parable, explaining how and when the wise virgins will be blessed (D&C 45:56–59).
Parable of the Talents
● Jesus taught about the need to improve on our talents (Matthew 25:14–30).
— In New Testament times, a talent was a sum of money. 3
— The man traveling to a far country represents the Lord.
— The servants represent each of us.
— The talents represent gifts from God.
— Despite differing talents we are all expected to serve with all diligence (v. 15).
— The servants who were given five talents and two talents developed them into greater talents (vv. 16–17).
— Both of the profitable servants received the same reward (vv. 21–23).
— The servant who was given one talent buried it and did not improve it (vv. 24–25).
— The master condemned him for not improving on his talent (vv. 26–30).
● Every person has been given at least one gift from God, but some gifts are easier to recognize than others (D&C 46:11–12).
Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
● This parable teaches that we will be judged by whether we have served our fellowmen (Matthew 25:31–46). That is, those who want to live with God must be like him.
— At his Second Coming the Lord will separate us as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (vv. 31–32).
— The sheep represent those who have served their fellow men (vv. 33–34).
— The goats represent those who have not served their fellow men (vv. 33, 41).
— The results of the behavior of the “sheep” and the “goats” (vv. 35–46).
THE COMING OF THE LORD
The Lord’s Appearance on the Mt. of Olives
● Christ will fight against the enemies of Israel (Zechariah 14:4–7). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Speaking of these final battles which shall accompany his return, the Lord says: `I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.’ However, the final end of the conflict shall be different this time than it was anciently. `Then shall the Lord go forth,’ the prophetic record says, `and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, . . . and the Lord shall be king over all the earth.’ (Zech. 14).”4
● Great natural disasters will devastate the enemies of Israel (Revelation 16:14–21).
● Christ will appear to the Jews at the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 12:8–10).
● The final scene at Jerusalem (D&C 45:40–45).
● “What are these wounds in thy hands and feet?” (D&C 45:48–53).
— Parley Pratt said:
“The Lord shall come at the very time of the overthrow of that army, yes, in fact, even while they are in the act of taking Jerusalem, and have already succeeded in taking one-half the city, and spoiling their houses, and ravishing their women.
“Then, behold their long-expected Messiah, suddenly appearing, shall stand upon the Mount of Olives, a little east of Jerusalem, to fight against those nations and deliver the Jews. Zechariah says the Mount of Olives shall cleave in twain, from east to west, and one-half of the mountain shall remove to the north, while the other half falls off to the south, suddenly forming a very great valley, into which the Jews shall flee for protection from their enemies as they fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah; while the Lord cometh and all the Saints with him.
“Then will the Jews behold that long, long-expected Messiah, coming in power to their deliverance, as they always looked for him. He will destroy their enemies, and deliver them from trouble at the very time they are in the utmost consternation, and about to be swallowed up by their enemies. But what will be their astonishment when they are about to fall at the feet of their Deliverer, and acknowledge him their Messiah! They discover the wounds which were once made in his hands, feet, and side; and on inquiry, at once recognize Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, the man so long rejected.”5
● Christ’s poignant answer to their questions about his wounds (Zechariah 13:6).
● “In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem” for three reasons: (Zechariah 12:11–14).
1. Many Jews will have been slain by the besieging armies.
2. Families will be scattered and unable to contact one another.
3. The saved Jews will realize that he whom they have long rejected and whom their forefathers persecuted and killed is truly the Messiah.
— Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Then they will accept Him as their Redeemer, which they have never been willing to do. Then is the time as spoken of in this passage from Zechariah when every family will go and mourn apart; the house of David, the house of Nathan, the Jews. They will fall down. They will rend their garments, and they will mourn and they will weep because they were not willing to accept the Son of God but accepted the teachings of their fathers and rejected their Redeemer and Messiah. Then they will fall down at His feet and worship Him.”6
1. Faith Precedes the Miracle , 253–256.
2. In Journal of Discourses, 18:110.
3. Bible Dictionary, “Money,” 733–734.
4. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1: 659–660.
5. Key to the Science of Theology/A Voice of Warning , 40.
6. Signs of the Times , 171–172.