Summary: Ready or not, Jesus is coming again and the wise person will be prepared for His imminent return.
READY OR NOT
Are you ready for Christmas yet? It is hard to believe, but the big day is only a little over 5 weeks from now. This can be one of the most frantic times of the year for people. As we busily make preparations for sending Christmas Cards, buying presents, setting up the decorations in anticipation, preparing the meals, and so on, we can become overwhelmed with all that there is to do. Some of us react to this by starting early. I am always thoroughly impressed, and a bit envious, when I meet someone who has joined a Christmas Club, and they’ve already addressed their cards, and purchased most of their gifts. On the other hand I am always amazed to meet some individuals who wait until Christmas Eve to go out and try and scrounge up their gifts. The panic and disappointment they feel each year would give me an ulcer.
In the same way we prepare for Christmas, others are preparing for the return of Jesus Christ. Whether they think He’s coming back as part of the Y2K events, or later, they are busily working to make sure they are ready. But are they?
Was the Lord’s idea of readiness, stockpiling bread and water? Or did He have something entirely different in mind?
Over the last few weeks of this Millennium, we will take a look at how we can prepare ourselves for the second Advent of our Lord as we take a good look at how others prepared themselves for His first Advent.
It is impossible to study the New Testament without finding some rather startling things that Jesus said about His return. Often He spoke in parables and stories that can shake up our theological boxes. One of those stories is found in Matthew 25:1-13.
It is the story of the 10 Virgins or Attendants to the bride.
Theme: Ready or not, here He comes!
1. Outward appearances can never adequately portray what is in the heart!
Notice the similarities between the 10 attendants in this parable:
-all of them were attendants to the bride (she is not mentioned in the story – but
elsewhere in scripture the Church is the Bride of Christ. The attendants were connected to the Church.
-all of them eagerly were waiting to meet the bridegroom. The bridegroom is
symbolic of Christ. There are many people who talk about Jesus, admire Jesus, even eagerly seek Jesus.
-all became drowsy when the bridegroom delayed. The early Church eagerly
anticipated that Jesus would return in their lifetime. Many in our day
believe Jesus will return at any moment. What if He delays? It is
easy in the Christian life to become drowsy. Jesus does not condemn us
for the natural tendency to fall asleep. Both the wise and the foolish
fell asleep – the difference was in their preparation.
-all trimmed their lamps when His coming was announced. Though they may have fallen asleep for awhile – the members of the church all woke
up to His imminent return.
-all of them had lamps. The lamp was a symbol of light. They all had some light of the gospel within them. They all shone to one degree or another
in their understanding.
-all had some oil. The oil has been understood throughout the scriptures to be
a picture of the work of the Holy Spirit. All of these handmaids had a
taste (as the writer of Hebrews put it) of the Holy Spirit. Their was
some light of the spirit within them.
From outward appearances – they all were ready to meet the Bridegroom, to be ushered into His wedding feast. But were they truly ready?
We cannot judge what is in the heart of another. But we must ask ourselves. What is in my heart? Am I ready? Is this Christian thing real to me, or am I just playing around with it? What will be my response when Jesus comes for me either in death or in Rapture?
Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a man he worked alongside of in a machine shop for 4 ½ years named George. George’s job was to sweep and clean out the shavings underneath the machinery. George was a believer who loved to sing the old songs of Christ’s return: “In the sweet by and by” and “When the roll is called up yonder”
Late one Friday afternoon, about 10 minutes to quitting time, Swindoll says he turned to George and asked Him: “George, are you ready?” George smiled, and said: “I sure am”. But it was obvious he wasn’t ready for the day’s work to end. He was all dirty and his uniform was covered in dirt. Chuck says he repeated the question: “Aren’t you ready to go home?” “Yeah, I’m ready.” George said. “But look at you, you’re all covered in dirt. You’re not ready, you need to go get cleaned up.” “No, sir.” George said. “I’m ready. Let me show you something.” And he unzips his overalls and underneath are the neatest, cleanest clothes you could imagine. He was ready as soon as that whistle blew to step out of those overalls and onto the street. To which he then said: “You see, I stay ready to keep from getting ready!”