Allow me to put in a plug for the NIV Bible. As you may have noticed, I use numerous English translations on this blog site because I look for the one passage that not only gets the sense of the Greek and Hebrew but puts it into English phrasing that paints the best picture of the meaning. The only problem is, it is best for me. You may need one of the others.
In 2016 the NIV put out another version, the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. The footnotes and extra materials concentrate on the influence of the culture on the text. It is not the best or the only study Bible, it is one more that gives us another look at the Word of God.
In reading the two New Testament passages in this version, I found a very useful chart in chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians. It contains a parallel listing of Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11. A quick look at the chart shows that Paul knew the message of Jesus, and he stayed true to the message.
Today’s reading of Matthew comes at the end of that important chapter 24. The whole of the chapter deals with the end times; with the Second Coming. Even so, it is an extension of what Jesus was saying in chapter 23. Our lesson of two weeks ago came from there. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. NIV The rest of the chapter continues along that theme.
Jesus moved into the End Times in chapter 24, ending it in chapter 25 with three parables: the Ten Virgins of last week’s reading, the Ten Talents of today’s reading, the Separating of the Sheep and Goats of next week’s reading.
Last week’s message was, be ready. This week’s message is, do God’s work while you can.
Each of the three servants in Jesus’ parable had a chance to work for their master, but only two of them did so. The one who did nothing faced judgement.
But also notice that the other two did not succeed on the same level. To change the metaphor, imagine they were in a race where one finishes first and the other finishes second, but both are declared winners.
About thirty years ago we took two of our kids to a summer track meet. It was 100 degrees as other parents’ kids began the age 10 and under 10,000 meter walk. Yes, walk. I have no idea how long it took for the first-place finisher to cross the line, but we still sat in the heat watching the young kids walking around the track. Every one of them finished—everyone a winner.
God expects us to take risks. He wants us to share the Good News that He loves every person on earth. He does not want us to hide that News. Each of us should be doing what we can as we live our lives in a world that does not respect the Goodness of God. Don’t be surprised if we stand before God in judgement and all of us receive first place metals.
Read my earlier comments on this theme here.
Be righteous and do good.