- Mark 13:1-2
- Matt. 24:3; Mark 13:3-4
- Matt. 24:4-35; Mark 13:5-31; Luke 21:8-33
- Matt. 24:36-51; Mark 13:34-37; Luke 21:34-36
- Matt. 25:1-46
On the Tuesday before Jesus' death, as He and His disciples left the temple, one of them pointed out the majesty of the stones and the buildings there. Jesus explained to them how the temple would be destroyed within the lifetime of the existing generation. These events occurred in 70 A.D. (40 years in the future) as the Romans surrounded the city, eventually burning the city and destroying the temple as they stamped out the remaining rebellious Jews who were inside.
Jesus gave the disciples signs to watch for so that they would know the time was approaching, and He encouraged them to be continuously watchful and ready, and when the time approached, to flee the city so they wouldn't be caught up in the destruction and famine that remained inside. Jesus taught two parables illustrating the need for watchfulness and preparedness. In the first parable, there were ten virgins who were waiting on the bridegroom to return for the marriage feast to begin. Five brought extra oil for their lamp and five did not. When the foolish virgins—that is, those who were unprepared—were gone to get more oil, the bridegroom returned and the foolish virgins were locked out, unable to attend the wedding feast because they weren't ready.
The second parable is the parable of the talents. A man goes on a journey and gives three servants varying amounts of money, called talents, for them to use while he is gone. The first servant was given 5 talents, the second 2, and the third 1. When the man returned from the journey, the first servant had earned 5 more talents, giving his master 10 in all. The second servant had also doubled his talents from 2 to 4, but the third servant had simply buried his 1 talent in the dirt because he was afraid he would lose what his master gave him. The first two servants were rewarded whereas the third servant was cast out into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
As He concluded these teachings, Jesus gave an explanation of His eventual return in judgment. Jesus said he would separate the nations before Him as a shepherd separates sheep from goats, with the sheep (the righteous) on the right hand and the goats (the unrighteous) on the left. Then Jesus would reward the sheep, inviting them to enter the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. Then Jesus will rebuke the goats, casting them out of His presence and into fire. The difference, according to this passage, is that the sheep took the opportunity to care for the hungry, thirsty, those needing clothes, and those who were sick and in prison. Jesus said that whenever anyone does one of these things (or fails to do one of these things) to someone else, they are doing them (or not doing them) unto Jesus Himself. Although this Scripture had a specific meaning to the people with whom Jesus was speaking on this occasion, it is also a very serious reminder to us about the importance of doing good, showing love to our neighbor when they are in need, and caring for others. Otherwise, we too may find ourselves among those crying uncontrollably and suffering in the pains of the fires of hell. I don't want to go there, and I hope you don't either.