Matthew concludes this Lectionary Year A with the weighty subject of judgment from 3 stories from Chapter 25:
Matthew 25:1-13 – Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (Nov. 12) Matthew 25:14-30 – Parable of the Talents (Nov. 19) Matthew 25:31-46 – The Sheep and Goats (Nov. 26)
The three parables in Matthew 25 examine the procedure, preparation, and intention required to enter the Kingdom of God. Here is a Youtube video that covers these three stories. There are some similiarities:
First, in each parable the judgment occurs at the consummation of this age. While the timing of that event is unknown, each follower is to be ready for and anticipate the coming kingdom.
Second, the judgment will render decisions that are eternal in nature,reflecting the status of each human being with regard to his or her eternal relationship to the kingdom. Phrases such as “the darkness outside,” the “fiery furnace,” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” describe eternal separation from the kingdom. They are not simply expressions of grief over a Christian life that did not count for much in the kingdom, for they are figures and phrases representing an eternal exclusion from the presence of God.
With this in view, it has been suggested that salvation in these parables is viewed as a “whole,” not simply as a point of entry. The “sons of the kingdom” and the “sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38) are on opposite sides of the soteriological divide. Those who are rejected are permanently excluded.
Third, the basis for this eternal judgment is the individual’s works. In some cases the emphasis is on faithfulness to a job assigned: perhaps in a picture of preparation for an event, or a picture of the fruit of the believer. But however it was pictured, works were the key to the judgment.
However, Works are not separated from the faith one exercises for entrance to the kingdom for works are evidence of that faith. A true change of heart will be reflected in a person’s life. A lack of that change is apparently enough to prevent entrance into the kingdom. Works are never ultimately separated from the faith of the individual, for it was also shown that works are not in themselves enough to impress the Son of Man positively in His role as judge.