After sharing about the signs of the end times in the Olivet Discourse in most part of chapter 24 in the gospel of Matthew came 4 parables in close sequence – the parable of the wise and wicked servants, the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids, the parable of the talents and the parable of the sheep and goats – in which our Lord shared about the importance of faithfulness while eagerly awaiting His Second Coming. The sheer number of 4 parables underscored how important is the message of awaiting watchfully and faithfully.
The parable of the wise and wicked servants and the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids gave contrasting attitude in awaiting His return. The wicked servant did not believe the Master would return so soon and was slack in discharging his given responsibility and was evil in conduct as well; while the foolish bridesmaids believed the Bridegroom would return very soon so they were careless not to bring extra oil for their lamps not expecting a delay.
Though our Lord gave frightening account of events preceding His return, He also exhorted us not to be alarmed and be troubled. Matt 24:6.
In the parables of the wise and wicked servants, the talents and the sheep and goats, the main lesson to be learnt was to be faithfully discharging our responsibilities to care for God’s people conscientiously while we wait with an expectant heart and watchfulness.
The parables are not teaching that salvation is obtained through works. But faithfulness in conscientious works will definitely accompany genuine faith. The wicked servant, the servant entrusted with one talent and the goats did not have genuine faith as evidenced by their lack of faithfulness and the utter folly of completely ignoring the commands of their Lord. In all 4 parables, the fate of such unfaithful servants was banishment to a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.