The Parables of Jesus: Day 5

The Master’s Return

by

Today's Text: Matthew 25:1-13, Mark 13:32-37, Luke 12:35-48

In this study of the Parables of Jesus, we are reading many of the stories Jesus used to teach hearers about how to live as His followers. Each day we’ll read parables in their immediate context, focusing on a different category of parables each week. Then we will work through a series of questions to understand the meaning of the text and take to heart the “secrets of the kingdom.”

Editor’s Note: In this Parables study, Jesus Himself is telling us stories—stories He wants us to reflect on and process. Rather than asking our writers to write their own stories about Jesus’ stories, we thought it would serve you and the text better to provide questions to help you dig into the meaning of each day’s parable. If you find a parable or passage particularly confusing, stop and pray. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in His Word, and thank Him that we can know Him without knowing all the answers to our questions.

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Week 1: Parables about God’s Kingdom

Parables are stories with a point. They are designed to make us think about what is being said, why, where, to whom, and in what context. To get to the heart of Jesus’ parables, we need to pull them apart and take a careful look at the details He gives us. One detail that runs through this week’s selection of parables is that Jesus says they all describe the kingdom of God in some way. As you read through these passages, use the following questions to unpack the stories Jesus tells.

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Day 5 Reading: Matthew 25:1-13, Mark 13:32-37, Luke 12:35-48

Questions:

1. In Luke’s parable about the master’s return, who are the characters in the story and who do they represent?

2. What issue does this particular parable address, and what is the outcome of the story?

3. What is the central point of this parable?

4. What, if anything, do you find particularly difficult to understand about this parable? What about it seems clear? What is your response to it?

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  • Brianna

    Gosh! I love all of these answers and thoughts and insights. I’m in college and I struggle with spending time on a daily basis. I often find myself in the car praying and jamming to my Christian rap and music. But being so busy I often forget why Im even doing what I’m doing. When Jesus says “be alert,” mark 13:37 I think it is so important we never lose sight of what’s coming. It may not be in our lifetime but if we can touch the lives of others to help them be alert then I feel like we are accomplishing our task here on earth. Jesus said to love others just like he has loved us. And I find that so important that each day I try to love someone and impact their life. No matter how busy we are I think it’s important to stay connect and I love this app and reading your ladies feedback. It’s wonderful thank you!

  • Kezia Goodman

    These parables aren’t new to me, but I am seeing them in a new light, fresh revelation and appreciation for the word of God. It has forced me to do a lot of internalizing, and self examination. I’m asking these questions after reading this parable: Am I ready? Have I fulfilled my purpose? Am I presenting to God without spot and blemish?

  • All of Luke 12, and especially verse 48, resonates with the fact that following Christ comes with responsibility that Jesus takes very seriously. There are good consequences to following/being ready for Him, and there are bad consequences to not following/being ready for Him.

  • Stephanie

    I’ll be honest… I’m that person that really struggles with a black and white brain. Either something is or it isn’t, you know? Growing up, my Bible teachers taught with the understanding that every verse, every piece of scripture is absolute Truth and that if you can find something to be untrue in God’s Word, the credibility of everything else is jeopardized. (In other words, if you can disprove one thing, you might as well disprove it all.) And while I understand now more so than I did back then that we can always find things to disprove in our human understanding and capacity because we are not God and are not made to understand all things yet, sometimes, as you can imagine, I have a hard time processing scriptures that don’t jive in my mind right off the bat –verses that appear and read one way, but really mean another, or when a passage seems to contradict a different area of scripture, etc.

    That being said, with the passage in Mark where it talks about no one knowing the day or the hour of Christ’s return in the rapture, I am having a hard time processing chapter 13 verse 32 where it states “nor the Son, but the Father alone.” As I read it, my mind immediately jumps to, “…wait. Isn’t Jesus all God as well as all man? How can He not know this if He and the Father are One in the same?” My black and white brain panics a little. “Either Jesus is fully divine or He isn’t…right?”

    I find comfort in knowing that there is context to be understood in so much of what we read in scripture — the culture, the specific people being spoken to, etc. I know that as a man, Jesus spoke with God as His Father, even as they were One in the same. When I looked up this verse in the Amplified Bible, it says, “But of that [exact] day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son [in His humanity], but the Father alone.” “In His humanity…” Does it mean that as a human, Jesus is separated from the full knowledge of God? It’s so hard to wrap my mind around these things, but I guess that’s where the blessing of trusting in a big God whose thoughts are not my thoughts and whose ways are higher than my ways comes into play. I have to choose to trust that if God wants me to understand these things fully, He will reveal them to me as I ask for His wisdom or I will understand them when I meet Him face to face. Either way, it’s a choice I have to make on whether or not I will trust in my own understanding or His. And I choose His.

    Any thoughts on this verse, ladies?? I would appreciate any input from those who have more understanding than I do!

    • Allison Joy

      I have nothing to actually back this up, but I think it goes back to Jesus willingly leaving heaven to come to earth and being fully human and fully God at the same time. (I know. I don’t quite grasp that part either.) Jesus chose to limit His divine power a number of times, and I think this is one area He chose to limit His divine power. He did not take Himself off the cross, when he could have. He did not keep Himself from being hungry when He was tempted by the devil. He could have. He did not keep Peter from falling when he got scared after walking on the water. He didn’t. There are a number of areas where Jesus could have chosen to assert His Divine power and chose not to, but rather to embrace being “fully man.” And I think there’s also a reason we can’t grasp the fully man/fully God concept. It’s an area where God wants us to trust Him, even though we don’t quite get it, kind of like you already said. Those are just my thoughts on it.

      • Stephanie

        Pretty neat way to look at it… Thanks, Allison!

      • Rosalie

        Wow amazing response! I was struggling with this too and your response showed me there’s one good answer that exists, even if it’s not the correct answer that just proves there’s explanations that I just don’t think of on my own!

  • CathrineAnne

    Thank you ,Miranda, for reminding me of the “talk” vs. “walk”. This is what I think Luke is referring to in the last two verses, 47 and 48. Those who have been given much (insight, knowledge, wisdom) of the significance of the coming of the Lord will be expected to be walking in faith. They will be held accountable for what knowledge has been given to them. If they are not walking, and they are just talking, they will be severely punished. Those who have not been given the knowledge or are just baby Christians, will be held accountable for only what they know and will only be “lightly beaten”. Therefore, the more we know our Lord, the more will be expected of us. I can also appreciate how this applies concretely to His blessings of talents and/or wealth and how we would be expected to use those to bring glory to Him and not just hoard them.

  • Part of this parable was the focus of our homily in church last week so I was excited to see it as today’s study. This parable is all about being prepared. We do not know when we will meet our Lord Jesus Christ again so those that are believers should live life as if He may come at any moment. It’s sort of if you talk the talk, you also need to walk the walk situation; those who say they have faith in our Lord and follow Him should live life with a faith filled heart, following his teachings, and living by His word at all times for those that are truly faithful and righteous will be received at his table in the Kingdom of Heaven. God has entrusted us with a mission to spread His word and live His truth as his children and not just take our faith lightly.

  • I found this blog post about the parable of the beaten servants in Luke 12:35-48 and thought it offered an interesting perspective: https://escapetoreality.org/2014/07/09/the-parable-of-the-beaten-servants-luke-1235-48/

    • Rochelle

      This is a really great resource, Kristi. Thanks so much for linking it! I learned a lot.

  • Sarah D.

    Hi guys, can you please pray for me? Just got my Biology exam score back, and I got a D+. I feel horrible. After the test I felt that I did okay. I studied a lot for it and felt like I knew the material. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, I have a low C in this class and I really want to pass it (same with Chemistry). I just feel really frustrated with myself that I’m not doing well and I don’t know what to do to get better. I’ve been trying different study habits but I guess none of them are working.

    • Summer

      Hey, sorry to hear studying is not going so well, even though you’re trying hard. Hope our prayers can lift you up.

    • Mercy

      I pray that you receive the Spirit and Grace that made Daniel excel ten times better than his pairs. I also pray that you receive the favor of the Lord as your teacher grades all your exams. Pray to God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit before you begin studying. Don’t worry, the spirit of excellence is upon you, instead give thanks because you know you will excel in all your classes! God cannot fail, and as His child, you cannot fail too!

    • Denise M.

      Hello Sarah D. This is Denise Morgan. I live in Lynchburg about 10 minutes from L.U. I attend Calvary Chapel Lynchburg http://www.cclburg.com/ where quite a few L.U. students attend. I have been praying for you for some time now when you were thinking of coming to L.U. I continue to pray for you . I do understand that the freshman year is quite a change from how life has been prior to this. What worked for you in highschool may not work in college. It is a very different way of teaching and of studying and of living daily life. You are no longer in the family home with parents and siblings-you are now in a dorm with people you have never met before. You are also in an adult environment where you make decisions for yourself. All of that can become overwhelming and distracting making it difficult to concentrate on your studies. You state that you do not know what to do to get better. Have you considered tutoring? Or asking a fellow student who is doing well in those classes for help? I know this can be intimidating but it is a useful help that may be what you need in order to pass these difficult classes. Have you spoken to your counselor about this ? They may be able to match you up with fellow student that could help you. Give this to God and ask Him to guide you to the right person/people who can help you with what you need. He provides for our needs. Trust Him. Lifting you up in prayer right now .

    • CathrineAnne

      Hi Sarah, it’s always frustrating when we try so hard and things don’t turn out the way we had anticipated. Please don’t let the enemy have you thinking less of yourself. You did everything you knew to do and that is all God asks of us. There is a reason for everything He allows to happen in our lives and perhaps He will reveal this to you in time. His ways are greater than ours and even though it’s difficult and we don’t understand why we didn’t get what we thought we would, He just asks us to trust Him. I think sometimes He just wants to know that we will look to Him first when we are struggling. He is our loving Father. It’s always easy to put faith in Him when things are going well and we are getting what we think we need. Don’t give up and praise God for all He has done. Tell Him what you told us and ask Him what is your next best step to take. Praying for you!

    • Terri

      I just want to encourage you to keep going. I can say “me too”. I had to study really hard. When I got a D on an English literature paper it was difficult spending 5 hours revising it. Fortunately I didn’t have to take too many of those kinds of classes. I also got a D in chemistry and had to figure out how to study for that. It’s difficult when you don’t like the material. I found it helpful to talk to the teachers sometimes. Keep trying. I takes a lot of work. And I made it to become a doctor. As it says in James 1:5 God will give you wisdom if you pray believing. I am believing He is giving you wisdom and that the joy of the Lord will be your strength to take you through to the goals and plans He has for you.

    • Elle

      As a homeschool Mom, I want to share a tip… the best way to retain and understand information is to teach it to someone else. Explain your understanding to someone. It doesn’t matter if they already understand or have no basics. If you can get someone else to understand what you are saying, you have a certain level of mastery. Spend time talking about what you have learned. (It’s the mortar that holds the bricks together.) Praying for you Sarah.

  • Churchmouse

    I am content and grateful that He has left the light on. He invites all. Whatever day or whatever hour He decides to open the door one last time is up to Him. He alone knows. When the door is shut, it is shut. Better not wait.

  • Alexis Maycock

    The Holy Spirit has been speaking to me on the art of preparation. As well as how a lot of the anxiety and stress I️ deal with can be traced back to a lack of preparedness. Today’s reading was yet another confirmation for me. Thank you for this study!

  • Terry Kole

    My grown kids, my husband and I were just talking about the second coming of Jesus…and the absence of preaching /teaching on this subject in churches today. I was very happy to see these verses here today, and to hear three different Gospel writers quote Jesus’ own words. Just as the disciples didn’t understand that Jesus would literally die and raise from the dead, I think that we followers often don’t get that Jesus let us know He’s coming again. I’ve anticipated His second coming my whole Christian journey…I encourage this generation to join me in the watching, waiting and being prepared for His return!

  • 1. In Luke’s parable about the master’s return, who are the characters in the story and who do they represent? The servants (Christians) and the master (Jesus).

    2. What issue does this particular parable address, and what is the outcome of the story? The issue is what to do while we wait for the second coming of Christ, and the outcome is, if we are not spiritually “ready” (i.e. consciously making a sinful choice because “Oh He will forgive me” or “he’s not coming today” as the servant decided when he became restless in waiting so beat others and got drunk) results in a “severe beating” or “being cut to pieces and put with the unfaithful.”

    3. What is the central point of this parable? Be ready. Be vigilant. Don’t put your faith aside for a rainy day. (And btw you’re doing this already – by getting into the Word. <3)

    4. What, if anything, do you find particularly difficult to understand about this parable? What about it seems clear? What is your response to it? Difficult – "But the one who did not know (his masters will), and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating" I think this relates to other who don't know about Christ yet? Clear – "And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake." It seems pretty black and white. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

  • Matthew 25:1-13
    For a long time I struggled with understanding this parable because I wanted the 5 women who had plenty of oil to share at least a little with the others to help them out. It all seemed pretty selfish to me, and when put in the context of Jesus’ return and faith I thought we were supposed to be sharing our faith and stories with each other, helping each other along the way. It wasn’t until just recently that I realized the 5 women who had oil actually did share in the only way they could. If the oil represents my own relationship with God and me being filled by Him, then there is no way for me to hand that to someone else to save them. However, I can direct them to the source, as the 5 women with oil did. I can point those thirsting for more to the feet of Jesus where they can find their own relationship with God to be filled my His Spirit and presence.

    • Jessica

      You have given me some really amazing insight into today’s readings. I was a little confused as to why they couldn’t share at least a little oil. But even in my own journey nobody could give me a slice of their faith. I have had to work to build that up myself. Thank you for the insight!

    • Alisha

      This is so good! Great insight!

    • Alexis

      This is awesome; thank you for sharing your insight!

    • Lesley

      Thank you! I was wondering about that too and your explanation really helps!

    • Brandi

      So good! Thanks for this!

    • Kristen

      What a good explanation! Thank you!

    • Kaitlyn

      Ah! Love this perspective so much. Thank you for sharing!

    • Janna

      Thank you for sharing this. Very good insight

  • AmandaEspi

    I don’t where my family will be living next year when our lease ends. This unknown drives me crazy sometimes. Last week I thought if Jesus doesn’t even know when He is returning, then I can learn to live with ambiguity and the unknown too. I need to keep having faith God will care for my family wherever we end up. This parable reminds me to keep doing the work before me no matter if we move or not.

    • Candy

      Thank you so much for sharing your insight Amanda! I have been told by God that He has a wonderful job for me but I continue to be unemployed and it’s so hurtful to get rejection or not even a call application after application. I too will work harder at just being present for Him and not get so upset about the unknown.

  • I struggle with the part where those who have a lot will be given more. I always thought it was unfair until I reread the parable and tried to see it in a different perspective. I am grateful that God blesses me with abundance and that He calls me daughter. With that comes great responsibility to share what I have with others. He has blessed me with gifts and talents that I should in turn use to share God’s love to others. I often have to remind myself to act with a joyful attitude and abundance, than with an attitude of scarcity and hoard His blessings.

  • rosebergamot

    I️ was just thinking that it’s probably a good idea to keep asking myself if I️ would be proud or ashamed if Jesus found me doing what I️ am doing at the moment. How ashamed would I️ feel if he came back at a moment I️ was gossiping? How wonderful would I️ feel if he came back at a moment I️ was building someone up? I️ want him to be proud of me not ashamed that I️ am one of his, so I️ will fight my urges to sin.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you bare not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

    • Josephine

      Thank you for sharing this passage, Ann! It helped me so much to put these parables into perspective. It’s good to know that we are eternally secure in Him.

  • Cassandra Guttman

    When I think about the parable of the 10 bridesmaids, I think it’s an exhortation to be diligent about our intimacy with God. I often feel as though I borrow intimacy from authors, song-writers etc when I’m struggling to spend quality time with him. Recently I guess I’ve realized that by all means I should stay plugged in to those resources that help feed my faith, but I can’t borrow their oil. I have to, i need to connect with him daily, hourly, every minute, as much as i can. I’m not good at it but i pray God help me be better.

    Luke 12:35-48 I think is less about punishment but an exhortation to steward well the mysteries and gifts He has entrusted to us. I don’t think the details of punishment are important, but simply, if we turn away when we’ve known Him can we imagine spending eternity separated from Him.

    Reading the passages in this order reminds me of a quote from a recent If Gathering, “Intimacy precedes sentness.” We must have our own intimate relationship with him in order to be productive in serving him. Pray you all have a blessed day and we connect directly with Him!!

    • Elisabeth7291

      I love your insight – you can’t borrow someone else’s oil. So true.

    • Laryssa

      Love this! I’ve never looked at this parable this way. Yes, to be daily building a relationship with Christ is key. Intimacy grows with time well spent pouring over Scripture and in prayer .

    • Kay

      Yes! “I can’t borrow soneone else’s oil.” Thank you, Cassandra!

      My mom and I had a similar conversation yesterday about the phrase, “I see God at work everywhere.” She has just been saved at the age of 77 (praise God!) and said she believed it when people said it, but didn’t really understand. Now she sees it for herself! I guess she couldn’t “borrow someone else’s oil,” when it came to really seeing God everywhere.

    • Barb

      Thanks, Cassandra, for your insight. I love connecting with God through music but I have allowed it to become my quiet time, instead of using it to enhance my quiet time.

      • Kaylee

        These comments are so edifying, ah! This is what came to mind while reading your insight:
        “I can’t borrow someone else’s oil”; their gifts, talents, and faith are their own. This is encouraging on another level too because this means the world can’t take our oil, the world can’t take what belongs to the father and the father alone.

    • Emily B.

      I wrote something similar in my journal about not borrowing someone else’s oil, but your explanation really fleshed it out for me. Thank you!

  • I just wanted to say that I do really enjoy this study. Even though I can be slightly confused on things it’s so amazing to be able to ask this wonderful group of ladies their opinions and read your views. I guess it again shows me how personal God is. I don’t know why this always surprises me because He so often shows me He deeply cares for ME and YOU in the way we best need it! I just wanted to let y’all know though sometimes confused I like how this is pushing me to think and dig deeper and depend on the other ladies here. To ask questions. Thank you for getting me out of my box!

    • Kristine L

      I was about to post the same thing! I went back to yesterday’s study and was amazed with all the thoughtful comments, insights, questions and responses that were shared by the lovely readers of this group. How beautiful to have safe space to share our confusion and lightbulb moments. I feel like we’re really doing this study together!

  • I’m confused about verses Luke 12: 47-48.
    Is Jesus talking about people who are already saved? Then when does this punishment happen? In Heaven? On Earth? And if he’s talking about people in general, what does the light beating refer to as opposed to the heavy beating? Is the heavy beating hell? Is Jesus talking about returning at the End or is punishment that is ongoing, occurring here on earth? I️ didn’t anticipate being confused about these parables, but for some reason, this study has my brain all jumbled.

    • Tochi Heredia

      Hi, Erikka! I think this refers to the punishment that will happen on Jesus’second coming. The light beating is for those who never knew Him and the heavy one is for those that knowing Him decided to ignore his commands.
      The light beating seemed unfair to me at first, but then I remember what Paul said about no one having any excuse (Romans 1:20).
      These parables have puzzled me too, but they also motivated me to be alert and expectant to His coming and to encourage those around me to be alert as well.

      • Sandy

        I don’t think we should take this passage too literally because we know what ultimately happens to those who reject Jesus, but rather let it be a somber reminder or a wake up call to believers that we need to ever be growing in our faith and not become complacent and let it propel us further to “always be about the Father’s business”. Hard to do sometimes when the responsibilities of life get in the way, but God sees the true intentions of our hearts.

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