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1-9 The Parables Of Judgment

The day of judgment was an important theme with the Lord. There is an element of unreality in the way He speaks of the King as being the judge (Mt. 25:40); the implication is that our judgment will be an extremely important event; the King Himself is the judge (actually, the King of heaven and earth). The figure of judgment would suggest a grim faced judge, with all the dignity and soberness of the courtroom, whatever the verdict is. But there are elements of unreality in the pictures of judgment which are put before us in the parables. This judge is emotionally involved in each case (unheard of in a human court); He exalts: " Well done...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Mt. 25:23). The picture of the happy judge, breaking down in joy at the verdict, inviting the hesitant believer to share his joy in their victory. The picture seems so imaginable; " enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" suggests a reticence, an unbelief, at the outcome. Compare this with the one hour labourers receiving a day's pay (Mt. 20:9), and the faithful almost remonstrating with their Lord that they have not done the things He reminds them of (Mt. 25:38-40). But we will overcome our reticence; we will enter our Lord's joy; for we shall stand before the presence of  His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24). The parables of judgment express this in a wonderful way. The Master is so delighted that His servants are watching for Him that He immediately sits down and gets a meal ready for them, doing the serving Himself (Lk. 12:37). There is again an arresting element of unreality here. Would a Master really do this (cp. Lk. 17:7), at such an unlikely time at night, would he really serve himself, and would he really be so glad that the servants were waiting up for him? But these elements of unreality serve to teach the lessons: that the Lord will have unspeakable joy at His return because of our expectancy of the second coming, and He will surprise us by His glee and enthusiasm for us. And why is the bridegroom so strict about rejecting latecomers to the wedding (Mt. 25:12; Lk. 13:25)? Surely to show the crucial and eternal importance of immediate response to the Lord's coming. Any delay will indicate our basic lack of love for our Lord. In Him, in that day of His joy  that we were ready, will be fulfilled Zeph. 3:17: " The Lord thy God in the midst of thee...He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. I will gather them that are sorrowful (us) for the solemn assembly" , when the Lord will keep Passover with us again. Then we will live out the element of unreality in the parable of the pounds: wise use of a few coins results in eternal power over several cities. Ten cities came from the use of ten pounds (Lk. 19:17). The parables of judgment leave us to imagine the men marvelling in disbelief at the reward given to them, so out of proportion to their wisdom and faithfulness in such a short period. They expected at most just a few pounds to be given to them. But they are given nothing less than rulership in the Kingdom of God.

The Lord who will judge us knows us each individually. The question arises, ‘Why would all the servants stay awake in order to open the door (Lk. 12:37)? Why not just the night watchman? The answer is that there is a totally unique and special personal relationship between this Master and all His servants.

The parable about taking the lowest seat sounds obvious to us. If a poor nobody is invited to the King’s feast, he would naturally take the lowest place, with feelings of wonderment, awe, embarrassment, joy, quiet honour, excitement that he’d been invited, that he was somewhere too good for him, by grace. The element of unreality in the story is that the man arrogantly takes a high place, and has to be demoted at the coming of the King. There’s something unreal about this. But there’s the rub. This is exactly how we are behaving when we jockey for status and ‘power’ in the ecclesia [in whatever form], when we fail to consider each man better than ourselves to be. This is how absurd we’re being. The Lord’s parable was evidently based upon Prov. 25:6,7: “Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men”. The way the Lord applies this to His church implies that we should consider each of the other invited guests as “great men” of nobility. This is the level of respect which He intends there to be amongst us for our fellow brethren. The parables of judgment truly touch the very core of our spiritual being.