As Jesus Christ privately taught His disciples on the Mount of Olives about His Second Coming, He taught the parables of the ten virgins and the talents. He also explained that He will separate the righteous from the wicked when He returns.
Imagine how you might feel if you were the young man in the following story told by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who heard this young returned missionary share a personal experience in a testimony meeting.
“He … told of coming home from a date shortly after he had been ordained an elder at age 18. Something had happened on this date of which he was not proud. He did not go into any details, nor should he have done so in a public setting. To this day I do not know the nature of the incident, but it was significant enough to him to have affected his spirit and his self-esteem.
“As he sat in his car for a while in the driveway of his own home, thinking things through and feeling genuine sorrow for whatever had happened, his nonmember mother came running frantically from the house straight to his car. In an instant she conveyed that this boy’s younger brother had just fallen in the home, had hit his head sharply and was having some kind of seizure or convulsion. The nonmember father had immediately called for an ambulance, but it would take some time at best for help to come.
“‘Come and do something,’ she cried. ‘Isn’t there something you do in your Church at times like this? You have their priesthood. Come and do something.’ …
“… On this night when someone he loved dearly needed his faith and his strength, this young man could not respond. Given the feelings he had just been wrestling with and the compromise he felt he had just made—whatever that was—he could not bring himself to go before the Lord and ask for the blessing that was needed” (“The Confidence of Worthiness,” Liahona, Apr. 2014, 58–59).
What would you be thinking if you were the young man in this situation? Why is it so important to always be prepared?
Matthew 25 is a continuation of the Savior’s teaching on the Mount of Olives, and it includes three parables of preparation that teach us how to be prepared to meet the Lord when He comes again.
While on the Mount of Olives, Jesus Christ taught His disciples about His Second Coming (see Matthew 24). Through the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus taught that we must prepare for His Second Coming.
Read Matthew 25:1–4, looking for the main elements of the parable. You may want to mark what you find.
According to Jewish wedding customs, the groom, or “bridegroom, accompanied by his close friends, would go at night to the bride’s house. Following the completion of the wedding ceremonies there, the wedding party would proceed to the groom’s house for a feast. Wedding guests who joined the procession were expected to carry their own lamps or torches” to indicate they were part of the wedding party and to add to the brightness and beauty of the occasion (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 78).
Read the rest of the parable in Matthew 25:5–13, looking for what the five wise virgins did and what the five foolish virgins did.
Instead of reading Matthew 25:5–13, you could watch a portion of the video “They That Are Wise” (time code 0:00–5:46), which portrays the parable of the ten virgins. This video is available on LDS.org. While watching the video, look for what the five wise virgins did and what the five foolish virgins did.
Consider the following elements of the parable, and write what you think each might represent:
The wise virgins
The foolish virgins
The phrases “while the bridegroom tarried” (Matthew 25:5) and “at midnight there was a cry made” (Matthew 25:6) refer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Ponder what you can learn about the Second Coming from these phrases. You might want to write Jesus Christ in the margin next to verses 5–6.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught who the ten virgins represent: “The ten virgins obviously represent members of Christ’s Church, for all were invited to the wedding feast and all knew what was required to be admitted when the bridegroom came. But only half were ready when he came” (“Preparation for the Second Coming,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 8).
You may want to write Members of the Church in the margin next to Matthew 25:1–2.
Review Matthew 25:8–9, and ponder why the wise virgins did not give their oil to the foolish virgins. President Spencer W. Kimball taught what the oil can represent and why it could not be shared:
“This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. How can one share obedience to the principle of tithing; a mind at peace from righteous living; an accumulation of knowledge? How can one share faith or testimony? How can one share attitudes or chastity, or the experience of a mission? How can one share temple privileges? Each must obtain that kind of oil for himself. …
“In the parable, oil can be purchased at the market. In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living. … Each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store” (Faith Precedes the Miracle , 255–56).
Ponder what the oil in the parable represents. In your scripture study journal, make a list of acts of dedication and obedience that could complete the following sentence: According to President Spencer W. Kimball, some of the things the oil in the parable can represent are …
The following is one truth we can learn from the parable and President Kimball’s comments: We cannot borrow spiritual preparation from others. Spiritual preparedness includes testimony, conversion, faith, and other gifts that come personally through the Holy Ghost.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“I now want to use one of many possible interpretations of the parable of the ten virgins to highlight the relationship between testimony and conversion. Ten virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish, took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Please think of the lamps used by the virgins as the lamps of testimony. The foolish virgins took their lamps of testimony but took no oil with them. Consider the oil to be the oil of conversion. …
“Were the five wise virgins selfish and unwilling to share, or were they indicating correctly that the oil of conversion cannot be borrowed? Can the spiritual strength that results from consistent obedience to the commandments be given to another person? Can the knowledge obtained through diligent study and pondering of the scriptures be conveyed to one who is in need? Can the peace the gospel brings to a faithful Latter-day Saint be transferred to an individual experiencing adversity or great challenge? The clear answer to each of these questions is no.
“As the wise virgins emphasized properly, each of us must ‘buy for ourselves.’ These inspired women were not describing a business transaction; rather, they were emphasizing our individual responsibility to keep our lamp of testimony burning and to obtain an ample supply of the oil of conversion. This precious oil is acquired one drop at a time—‘line upon line [and] precept upon precept’ (2 Nephi 28:30), patiently and persistently. No shortcut is available; no last-minute flurry of preparation is possible.
“‘Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom’ (D&C 33:17)” (“Converted unto the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 109).
The following is another truth we can learn from the parable: We prepare for the Second Coming by increasing our testimony and conversion through daily righteousness.
Draw a large picture of an oil lamp in your scripture study journal. Keeping in mind that the oil in the parable represents preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, create a list inside the lamp of ways you can add “oil” to your “lamp.” If possible, share your ideas with family members or friends, and ask them what they would suggest adding to your list.
To understand other ways in which you could accumulate oil drop-by-drop through righteous living, you could watch the rest of the video “They That Are Wise” (time code 5:46–8:44). As you watch the video, add to the list of ideas in your scripture study journal.
In modern revelation the Lord confirmed that “at that day [the Second Coming], when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins” (D&C 45:56).
Read Matthew 25:10–12, looking for what the bridegroom said to the foolish virgins. It may be helpful to know that the Joseph Smith Translation clarifies that the bridegroom said, “Ye know me not” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 25:11 [in Matthew 25:12, footnote a]).
What does the statement “Ye know me not” tell us about the five foolish virgins? How is knowing the Lord different from merely knowing about Him? (See John 17:3.)
From these verses we learn that to be ready for the Lord’s coming and be worthy to remain in His presence, we must come to know Him.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
In what ways have you come to know the Savior better?
How can knowing the Savior influence your spiritual preparedness for His Second Coming?
Continuing the story from the beginning of the lesson—about the young priesthood holder who was unprepared in a moment of need—Elder Holland explained that the young man rushed down the street to the house of an older man in his ward. The older man gave the younger brother a blessing that stabilized his condition until paramedics arrived. Elder Holland continued:
“Then the returned missionary of whom I speak said this: ‘No one who has not faced what I faced that night will ever know the shame I felt and the sorrow I bore for not feeling worthy to use the priesthood I held. It is an even more painful memory for me because it was my own little brother who needed me and my beloved nonmember parents who were so fearful and who had a right to expect more of me. But as I stand before you today, I can promise you this,’ he said. ‘I am not perfect, but from that night onward I have never done anything that would keep me from going before the Lord with confidence and asking for His help when it is needed. Personal worthiness is a battle in this world in which we live,’ he acknowledged, ‘but it is a battle I am winning. I have felt the finger of condemnation pointing at me once in my life, and I don’t intend to feel it ever again if I can do anything about it. And, of course,’ he concluded, ‘I can do everything about it’” (“The Confidence of Worthiness,” 59).
Consider what you need to do to be spiritually prepared for the Lord’s coming. You might circle one or two of the actions you listed on your drawing of the oil lamp and set a goal to act in ways that will increase your spiritual preparedness.
If your parents walked into the room and gave you a large sum of money, what would you do with it?
As the Savior continued to teach His disciples about His Second Coming, He related the parable of talents. In this parable a man who was leaving on a journey gave money to three of his servants: five talents to the first servant, two talents to the second, and one talent to the third. (A talent is a sum of money.)
Read Matthew 25:16–18, looking for what the servants did with their money.
In Matthew 25:19–23 we learn that when the master returned, he asked his servants to report what they had done with their money. The servants with five talents and two talents had used them to double their master’s money. But the servant with one talent had hidden it and consequently did not have any increase to give his master.
Read Matthew 25:24–25, looking for why the servant hid the talent.
In this parable, talents can be likened to the gifts and abilities the Lord has given to us. Fear can prevent us from using the gifts and abilities the Lord has given us.
What do you think happens if we do not develop our gifts and abilities because of fear?
Read Matthew 25:26–30 to find out what happened to the unprofitable servant.
One truth we can learn from this parable is that if we do not develop and use our spiritual gifts for good, then we will lose them.
Think of some ways you can use your gifts and abilities to further the Lord’s work. One talent you can use is your testimony (see D&C 60:2–3). Consider making a plan to faithfully use and develop your gifts and abilities.
In Matthew 25:31–46 we learn that at His Second Coming Jesus will separate the righteous from the wicked in the same way that a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. How does the Lord determine the difference between those who love Him (sheep) and those who do not (goats)?
Read Matthew 25:40, looking for what the Savior taught about how we show our love for Him.
From this verse we learn that as we love and serve others, we show our love for the Lord.
Ponder how you have treated others during the last 24 hours. Consider whether you would choose to act differently if you were in a similar situation in the future. During the next 24 hours, look for opportunities to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and serve others.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Matthew 25 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: