"As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’"
So much of Matthew’s Gospel is a beautiful, bountiful expression of the upside nature of God’s kingdom.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek and the merciful and the hungry, the peacemakers and the persecuted…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
These are not representations of earth’s scarce economy, but rather manifestations of God’s extravagant grace. So how then are we to interpret the damning denouement of this scathing parable? A worthless servant thrown outside, into the darkness, bearing witness to weeping and gnashing of teeth? My goodness, God! Where is your gracious kingdom here? And does any servant deserve such?
We are all him, you know. The fearful servant. But also the wise one.
The one who knows how hard this world is, a world that impoverishes one’s spirit, brings mourning upon the meek and robs the peace of the persecuted. We have much to be wary of, for this world can be far too cruel for kindness. So what then of this worrisome word here in our passage?
First, I don’t believe Jesus to be the merciless master in this parable. For the heart of our God is everything not represented here: gracious, forgiving, loving, and kind. But rather, I see this ruler serving as a representation of the wrongful ways of this world, rather than a reflection of our own wickedness. And yet, our repentant response to this world is not to run and shun. But rather, to give anyway: a broken spirit, a mourning heart, a merciful hand, an offering of peace. Our way of giving God’s goodness to this world is to pour out in all the ways this world won’t.
We sow tender seeds of Heaven even upon the calloused concrete of this earth. And we trust God will break the ground. For if we don’t sow, then this will be a world of weeping, a despair of darkness. We serve a Master who calls us to plant vineyards even in exile. To love a world that doesn’t love back. Just like another suffering servant did, our Lord Jesus.
Music: Ivan Wong | Repenting - song | 2:07m
Practice: Reflect and Journal
1 | Take ten minutes to write or draw about your journey through Matthew 25 so far. What are your biggest takeaways? What surprised you? What did you find most challenging?
2 | Seal your time with a prayer, asking God to root the seeds that were sown as you read Matthew 25: 1-30.
3 | Commit to journeying through the rest of Matthew 25 through reflection and action.