Summary: In the end we will not be able to say "I don’t want to play this religion game." It won’t be about religion, but about relationship with God. As Jesus prepares to go to the cross, He shares His very last teaching, about our lives, and about the end times.
A professor of a graduate-school class of gifted students included a HUGE amount of material on the midterm exam.
Tension in the room built, people were sighing and gasping aloud as they realized how much material they had covered and were expected to recall.
The following week, the professor tossed the graded papers on her desk and announced, "Class, after I left here last week, the Lord spoke to me.
"He said, ’Thanks, professor. I haven’t heard from some of those people in years.’"
Isn’t that how it is sometimes? When we know something big is going to happen we go to God for help. We get a letter with the return address of the IRS, we get notice that we’re going to be laid off our job, we see the money running out and bills piling up – and we get on our knees and beg the Father for help – as well we should.
But what about when you don’t know something is going to happen – showing up for class only to find out that the midterm you thought was next week was today, you get fired, or a car pulls out right in front of you? There isn’t time to ask God to help you get ready.
Well, even bigger stakes are out there – much worse than an unexpected test, getting fired, or a car wreck. The stakes are our eternal state. There is going to come a time when Jesus Christ comes back and says "enough." Those that are His go to Him to live forever – those that are not His go away to eternal punishment.
The question is – are you in or out – and how do you prepare for that time? We’re going to look through Matthew 25 today – as Jesus continues with some parables about being prepared, and staying occupied while we are waiting. We start out with a story that would have been familiar to Jesus’ listeners – but we need to make sure we don’t focus too closely on the story – so as not to lose the point.
At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 "At midnight the cry rang out: ’Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 "Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ’Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 "’No,’ they replied, ’there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 "Later the others also came. ’Sir! Sir!’ they said. ’Open the door for us!’
12 "But he replied, ’I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
13 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
This story would have evoked many images in the minds of those who heard it. Weddings were often the social event of the season in Israel at the time. What would happen is that the bride, adorned in her finest apparel would be accompanied by her bridesmaids to the groom’s house in a torchlight procession.
In this story, instead of going right in – for some reason the bridegroom is delayed and so they wait.
Remember – Jesus is telling a series of parables about being ready for His coming – and we shouldn’t read too much into this. I think the important point for us is the oil – the one’s that had it when the bridegroom came went in – those that didn’t got left out.
It says "those who were ready" went in. They were ready because they had a source for light. Oil is very often used as a picture of the Holy Spirit. Paul makes reference to what the Spirit does in our lives in Romans 8.
Rom 8:10-11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
The point: Your source of light and life comes from God by His Son, through His Spirit.