1. "Now, back to the subject of the Kingdom of/from the heavens...it's comparable to ten young bridesmaids who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom.
2. Five of them were silly and undiscerning...and five were smart and perceptive.
3. The five who didn't have a clue took lamps, but no extra oil.
4. The intelligent bridesmaids took flasks of oil to keep their lamps burning for an extended period of time.
5. Well, the bridegroom didn't show up when expected, so as they sat around waiting for him, the bridesmaids all fell asleep.
6. But sometime in the middle of the night someone yelled out, 'He's here! The bridegroom's here! Go out and greet him, as is customary for dignitaries, and accompany him into the city, and to the wedding feast!'
7. Then all ten of the bridesmaids got up and readied their lamps for use.
8. But the five who were irresponsibly unprepared said to the other ones, 'Our lamps are going out...lend us some of your oil.'
9. They answered them, 'There might not be enough to go around...you need to go buy your own.'
10. And they did go to buy their own, but while they were out making the purchase, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.
11. Sometime later, the other bridesmaids, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, 'Sir, we're here. Let us in.'
12. But he answered, 'Do I know you? I don't think I know you.' And he treated them as strangers.
13. Now, obviously the Son of Man knows the people who are His own creation, the foolish ones, as well as the wise ones...but I use this illustration to remind you to stay alert at all times. The operation of the Kingdom is very much about personal responsibility, and you have no idea when a visitation...an answer...a missing piece...a 'bridegroom' for a wedding, if you will...might arrive. So keep your eyes open, and stay ready for Kingdom manifestations!
14. And, speaking of personal responsibility, I could also say that the Kingdom operates like a man who was about to take a long journey, and called his servants together, and entrusted them with his property and investments in his absence.
15. To one he gave about $5,000. To another he gave about $2,000. And to another he gave $1,000...to each in proportion to his own personal ability. Then he departed and left the country, leaving the whole operation of the business with them.
16. The one who had received $5,000 got busy immediately, and in a smart investment deal, quickly made another $5,000.
17. Likewise, the one who had received $2,000 used his skills to double his money, as well.
18. But the one who had received $1,000 just decided to maintain, rather than to multiply...so he went and dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master's money in it.
19. Now after a while the master of those servants returned, and settled accounts with them.
20. And the servant who had received $5,000 came and brought him $5,000 more, saying, 'Master, you entrusted to me $5,000, and here I have made another $5,000!'
21. His master said to him, 'Nicely done, you good and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little bit of finance, and now that I see what you're capable of, I will put you in charge of a lot more. Consider yourself promoted to live the lifestyle that your master enjoys...consider yourself a master, as well!
22. And then the one who was given $2,000 came forward, saying, 'Master, you entrusted $2,000 to me, and here I have gained $2,000 more!'
23. His master said to him, 'Nicely done, you good and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little bit of finance, and now that I see what you are capable of, I will also put you in charge of a lot more. Consider yourself also promoted to live the lifestyle that your master enjoys...and consider yourself a master, as well!
24. Then the one who had received $1,000 also came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a harsh and hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you had not winnowed the grain. I know that you were just lucky in life, and that's why you have what you have.
25. So I was afraid, and I went and hid your money in the ground. But you'll be happy to know that every penny of it is here!
26. To his surprise and dismay the master answered him, 'You lazy, good-for-nothing loser! Do you indeed know that I "reap where I have not sowed, and gather grain where I have not winnowed?"
27. You don't know the first thing about how I acquired my wealth...but you should have at least invested my money with the bankers, so that at my coming I would have received what was my own with interest! Did you honestly think that I would be impressed with the hole in the ground idea?
28. All right, here's what's going to happen. The two of you who doubled your money can keep what I gave you, along with your profits. But take the $1,000 away from this guy, and give it to the one who has the $10,000!'
29. And the master spoke something that is indicative of how the Kingdom works, for he said 'To everyone who has will more be given...and he will be furnished richly so that he will always have an abundance. But from the one who does not have, even what he does have will be taken away from him.
30. And throw the good-for-nothing servant outside in the cold, where he will weep over his missed opportunities, and grind his chattering teeth in regret!'
31. One more thing...when the Son of Man is fully revealed in all His glory, and all His messengers with Him, then He will sit on the throne of Kingdom authority.
32. And the people of this nation will be gathered before Him, along with those from every other nation, and He will cause a separation in them as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats.
33. And He will have that which is compassionately righteous and sheep-like in them to be at His right hand, but that which is wickedly indifferent and goat-like to be at His left.
34. Then the King will say to those who appear to be at His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit as your very own the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35. For I was hungry and you fed Me...I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink...I was a stranger and you welcomed, entertained and took Me into your home...
36. I was naked and you clothed Me...I was sick and you visited Me, and ministered to Me...I was in prison and you didn't forget to come to see Me.
37. Then the just and upright people will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink?
38. And when did we see You as a stranger and welcomed and entertained You? When did we see you naked and clothed You?
39. And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to visit You?
40. And the King will reply to them, 'This is the absolute truth...in so far as you did any of these things for one of My brethren, especially for one of the least in the estimation of men...one of the disenfranchised...one of the unfortunate ones... one who is overlooked and ignored...you did it for Me. My Kingdom is built on these principles.'
41. Then He will say to those who appear to be at His left hand, 'It's a different story with you...this part of you that is cold and uncaring needs to be gone and cursed...purged in the fires of judgment!
42. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food...I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink...
43. I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me or entertain Me...I was naked and you did not clothe Me...I was sick, and in prison, and you did not remember to visit Me, nor did you care at all about ministering to me.'
44. Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we ever see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to Your needs?
45. And He will reply to them, 'This is the absolute truth...in so far as you failed to do it for the least of these in the estimation of men...as you failed to care...as you didn't even notice the suffering going on all around you...you failed to do it for Me. In your callousness you have violated the most basic principles of My Kingdom, in which the first will be last, and the last will be first!
46. Then those who are uncaring...indifferent...unfeeling...will go into the fire for a period of time...into a fiery trial that will ultimately burn out everything in them that is beastly and goat-like...until, at last, they are empathetic and compassionate to 'the least of these'...until they are like righteous sheep, humble, and fit for the Kingdom...and then all those who are just and upright and in right standing with God will enjoy the fullness of the eternal life."