Summary: Guest Service - evangelistic address
GUEST SERVICE – JUNE 04.
I don’t know if you have seen the trailers for the latest blockbuster movie. It begins with a question –Where will you be the day after tomorrow? The scenario is that due to problems with the ozone layer the polar ice cap melts creating all sorts of natural disasters which sweep across the earth. The trailer is quite amazing but the most significant thing is the question posed in the title: ‘The day after tomorrow.’ The truth is that no one can actually answer that question. No one can say for certain where they will be the day after tomorrow. We may look at a diary or a schedule and think I will be in X at Y the day after tomorrow but there is not guarantee that X and Y will happen. The context of these first 13 verses of Matthew 25 is to be found in Matthew 24 and Jesus’ teaching about the end of time. To help his hearers understand Jesus’ then tells some parables – earthly stories with heavenly/spiritual meaning. In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins Jesus speaks about the future and the consequences of being prepared and unprepared for his return. So turn with me to Matthew 25.1-13.
At the time of Christ marriage rituals were a lot more elaborate than we have at present. Once a groom had paid the wedding price to the father of the bride a period of a year would elapse. During that time the groom would go back to his home and prepare it for the arrival of his bride. When the right moment had arrived he would set off to the bride’s house to bring her ‘home.’ A great procession would be the order of the day and everyone in the procession would have their own torch/lamp. To be in the procession without a lamp/torch meant that you were a gatecrasher to the wedding celebrations and you would be locked out when the groom reached his home. That is the background to the story that Christ begins to tell in verse 1.
I want you to notice that in verse 1 it tells us that all 10 virgins had lamps. No one was without a lamp. Remember that
Verses 2-5 Wise and Foolish Virgins.
Jesus goes on to point out that only 5 of the virgins took oil with them as they went out to await the arrival of the groom. The other 5, whom he calls foolish, for whatever reason did not bother to bring oil for their lamps. Again I want you to note that the oil was freely available to all 10. It is not the case that only 5 of them had access to the oil, all 10 had access. Only 5 however, bothered to bring the oil for the lamps with them. The sole distinction between them is the presence of oil for their lamps. So there must be something significant about the ‘oil’ here.
The wise and foolish virgins look the same. To those around them there is no visible difference – but a time is coming when the difference will be revealed for all to see. Both the wise and the foolish virgins of the parable have good intentions – they both set out to meet the bridegroom, but only one group are prepared for his arrival. However, the other group are present but they are not prepared. You see it is one thing to be present but another thing to be paying attention and to be ready for the coming of the bridegroom.