The thought of getting to heaven is wonderful, but to imagine that there might be different ways to get there is surprising, knowing very well that you can only get there by way of Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The Bible book of Matthew, chapter 25, relates a message from Jesus as to the different ways to get to heaven.
The passage is divided into three sections: the first section gives a parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, the next one also gives a parable of the Three Servants, and the last section talks about The Final Judgment. All three sections are giving answers to the different ways to enter into heaven. They did so by employing surprisingly different methods. Let us now analyze these methods.
Jesus began the parable by saying “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil.” Here are two categories of individuals seeking to go into heaven with the bridegroom, Jesus Christ. These are individuals who practice Christianity; they go to church, read their Bibles, and almost worship like their fellow bridesmaids, but something was slightly different: some were foolish, why? They were not as prepared as the others were. Something was lacking in their lives as they prepared to wait for Jesus Christ, the bridegroom.
The parable continues by saying “the bridegroom was delayed, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.” Jesus was here some two thousand years ago, and he promised that he will come back for us – the brides. Two Thousands years later seems to be a long time, and therefore some Christians became “drowsy” and some fell asleep – they died. But at the resurrection, at midnight they were aroused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ the parable said. Both the dead and the living got up to see their bridegroom – Jesus Christ, but not everyone was prepared. Some characters were not molded into true Christian characters that Jesus wanted. At the resurrection, the foolish ones saw that their vessel, their lamps, their bodies were not shining, so they said to the others ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
The moment of the resurrection of the dead with the living is not the time to prepare and be molded into true Christians. The Bible with God’s word is the shops where the foolish ones should have continued to buy “oil” which is the source, energy, and ways to be molded into a true Christian.
While the foolish Christians were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ But Jesus called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
In this parable, Jesus shows us that one way to get to heaven is to be molded and be prepared into true Christians by investing daily into the words of God, and doing the things he said you should do. Consider the “Fruits of the Spirit” which is the result, the outcome of having the true “oil”: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal 5:22). Paul confirms this in Ephesians 5:8-10 “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”
Jesus gave a second method and begin by saying “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
This shows that there are individuals who are born into the Christian faith; they are by default, part of Jesus’ household of servants. These individuals are expected to serve Jesus and by their acts of being good stewards, their obedience and compliance, Jesus will consider them on his return, because they are his.
Jesus affirms this by saying the servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. These are considered servants to God. They go on mission trips, they do great acts of benevolences and by these acts they have displayed obedience to Jesus expectations, because they are his servants.
At the resurrection, their master returned from his trip to heaven and called them to give an account of how they had used his resources. Jesus was full of praise for the servants who had used their time wisely and performed good deeds according to their abilities. He said to them ‘Well done, my good and faithful servants. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ and they went into heaven with Jesus.
The servants that were slack in the expected duties, those who did not represent him or did kind deeds were fired.
At the resurrection, Jesus said to them. ‘You wicked and lazy servant! You did not do what was expected as my servant. Throw these useless servants into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’.
For those who were born into the Christian faith, they are by default Jesus’ servants and they are expected to know and perform the acts of ministering and baptizing lost souls into the kingdom of Jesus Christ while maintaining their master’s characters – the “Fruits of the Spirit”
In this method, Jesus looks at the individuals who are not Christians by birth or by adoptions. He looks at their deeds: “I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” These individuals did what was righteous even though they did not know Jesus. They can’t remember when they ever served Him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
At the resurrection, Jesus invited them to join him in heaven; he said they are blessed by his Father; they must inherit the Kingdom prepared for them from the time of the creation of the world. There were other individuals who did not know Jesus, and they did not do righteous deeds, so they were banished.
Even those who did not know Jesus are expected to do righteous deeds, because by so doing, they will have fulfilled God’s expectations, and will have shown God’s character in their lives. The righteous will go into eternal life.