These three parables, in fact, continue Jesus’ teaching from the previous chapter about the sign of His coming:
“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’” Mat 25:6, the parable of the ten virgins.
“After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.” Mat 25:19, the parable of the talents.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” Mat 25:31, the parable of the sheep and the goats.
These parables are each teaching the same thing in different ways.
In each parable, the Messiah type is away, and His return is not soon. The bridegroom is delayed in his coming, the master went away to a far country and only returned after a long time, and the Son of Man has not returned yet in His glory.
In each parable, there is the contrast of the wise virgins, profitable servants, and sheep, with the foolish virgins, unprofitable servant, and goats.
In each parable, those waiting for the return, have something delivered to them which they are to steward and have ready to return to him: the virgins are to steward their oil, the servants are to steward their talents, and the sheep and goats are to steward the least of Messiah’s brethren.
In each parable, either a reward or a punishment is received or given at the Messiah’s return: the wise virgins are invited in to the wedding feast, while the foolish virgins are kept out because the bridegroom does not know them. The profitable servants are set over cities and enter into their lord’s joy, while the unprofitable servant is cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. And the sheep inherit the kingdom prepared by the Father, while the goats are sent away into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
In each case, those who are separated from the Lord’s presence for eternity, were not atheists and unbelievers! The foolish virgins were waiting for the bridegroom’s return just as the wise ones were. The unprofitable servant was a servant of the master just as the profitable servants were. And the goats looked for Messiah to feed or clothe Him, just as the sheep were!
Each parable concludes with a warning:
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Mat 25:13, the parable of the ten virgins.
“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Mat 25:29, the parable of the talents.
“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Mat 25:46, the parable of the sheep and the goats.
We also must constantly examine ourselves, so that we do not become foolish, unprofitable, or “goaty” before His return!
For further reading:
The day of atonement and the parable of the ten virgins (2009)