Lesson Eighteen


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Memory Verse: Matthew 25:13
Further Study: Matthew 24:45-51, 25:1-13; The Desire of Ages, pp. 634-636, Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 405-341; The Bible Story vol. 8, pp. 178-182

Perhaps you are familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. This set of seven books tells a story. While one can choose to read only one book within the set, it is best understood if the reader reads through the series. Details are added in each book that helps one understand more about what has been read before.

Jesus does something similar when He taught His disciples during the Olivet Discourse—the time spent on Tuesday evening before the crucifixion. He began with one parable and then proceeded to tell a series of parables that if we study them carefully, we discover they all fit together. In other words, the same lesson with added detail.

To get the full impact, we need to read a few verses before our designated lesson this week. Jesus first summarized the entire lesson in the first parable of the thief (Matthew 24:42-44). The message is clear. If one knew when a thief was coming, they would keep watch. Thus, we must keep watch always because we do not know when Jesus will come. Yet watching isn’t enough, so Jesus told another story.

Yet watching isn’t enough, so Jesus told another story.

This time the story is of two types of servants, the faithful and unfaithful. We learn that a necessary ingredient to watching is to be faithful even if the Master is delayed. But the lesson is the same, just clearer. Jesus may take a long time to return, so we must watch, and while doing so, stay faithful despite the wait.

The third story of the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom adds yet another element. In this parable we learn that not only should we be watchful and faithful, but we also need to be ready. Ten girls with 10 lamps wait for the bridegroom who was delayed. While they wait all 10 go to sleep, but that isn’t the point of the parable, although obviously staying alert is part of watching. What is in focus is that one must have what is needed when the bridegroom arrives. In the parable only five have oil for their lamps, while the rest were unprepared. 

Fans of Chronicles of Narnia argue as to the order in which the books should be read. The debate is whether they should be read as they were written or whether two of the books, considered to be prequels (information someone should know earlier rather than later) should be read first. While it probably doesn’t matter which order the parables are read, it is important to understand the lessons they contain. If we continue reading (and we will next week), we’ll discover Jesus offers even stronger reasons as to why we should live watchful, faithful, and ready, and by doing so we will find ourselves renewed.

Digging Deeper 

While we certainly should focus on the positive aspects of these parables—watchfulness, faithfulness, and readiness—we need to understand that Jesus also speaks directly of consequences when one chooses not to do any of these.

In the parable of the faithful and unfaithful servant, the unfaithful servant is surprised by the return of the Master, and the judgment pronounced is that he is cut in two and placed with the hypocrites. As for the five virgins who did not have oil, they are left behind as they search for oil, and either by their searching or their inability to find their way in the dark, they are late. As they call out, the bridegroom responds that he doesn’t know them, and they are left shut out from the wedding feast in the darkness.

Both parables decidedly point to the results of those who are not found to be true disciples of Jesus. They will be rejected and destined to be lost forever.


Making it Real

Three stories offer an opportunity to focus on the Second Coming. A great way to do this is through hymns that aren’t sung as often as they should be. Try these hymns for family worship this week. Links are provided if you need the music and lyrics. Please note that a short introduction to the hymn is played before the actual hymn begins. Also if you have young children, take time to explain the lyrics of these hymns and why they express thoughts we should be thinking and living each day.

Monday: “In Times Like These,” No. 593 (https://sdahymnals.com/Hymnal/593-in-times-like-these/)
Tuesday: “Watch, Ye Saints,” No. 598 (https://sdahymnals.com/Hymnal/598-watch-ye-saints/)
Wednesday: “O Brother, Be Faithful,” No. 602 (https://sdahymnals.com/Hymnal/602-o-brother-be-faithful/)
Thursday: “We Know Not the Hour,” No. 604 (https://sdahymnals.com/Hymnal/604-we-know-not-the-hour/)
Friday: “’Tis Almost Time for the Lord to Come,” No. 212 (https://sdahymnals.com/Hymnal/212-tis-almost-time-for-the-lord-to-come/)



Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, who’s delighting everyone with her smiles. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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