Summary: What it takes to be prepared for the coming Kingdom.
Series: The Parables of Christ
Topic: A Day Late And A Dollar Short
March 10, 2002
Introduction: Pop Quiz
A teacher’s ultimate torture
[use it, or lose it-my interview experience]
-tests how prepared we are, or how well we are preparing ourselves
In Matthew 24 Jesus teaches His disciples that the Day of the Lord is immanent and what signs to expect in preparation for that day. And, He concludes these lessons with four parables; each communicating the same warning: "Be Prepared".
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Matthew 25:1-13 (RSV)
Explanation: Everyone loves a wedding. The pomp and stance. The decor and dress. The wonder of two people falling in love...
But in early Palestine weddings were much different. In our culture the bride is the center of attention. It is she for whom everybody awaits. But, in early Palestine it was the groom for whom everybody awaited. A day would be set for the wedding. And on that day the groom would go to the father of the bride and negotiate a bride price.
Eastern culture places great emphasis on the act of negotiating even today. It’s more about building a relationship than about the price. I’ve been told that to accept a merchant’s first offer is an insult, so great is the bartering tradition. For the groom to haggle the bride price indicated the value of the bride. If he was willing to haggle to great lengths it indicated his true love for her. For the parents to haggle to great lengths indicated their love for their daughter. Bartering could take hours, thus in our text the bridal party waits for such a lengthy time that they begin to fall asleep. And, the bridegroom doesn’t even show up until midnight.
So, Jesus uses this illustration to warn his disciples to BE READY. Just as the wedding party had to be ready at any moment, so too must we be ready for Christ’s return. But our preparedness is not to be a momentary thing, but rather a lifestyle. On ongoing readiness.
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only...Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." Matthew 24:36, 42 (RSV)