Summary: Christ’s return from the parable of the 10 virgins. 7th and last of the Worship the King series. Lead-in to communion.
PLEASE NOTE: This is written from an Arminian viewpoint with a post-trib leaning. Just tellin ya...
Matthew 25:1-13 – The Return of the King
A modern-day film phenomenon came to an end on December 17, 2003. Millions of movie-goers stood in line for what seemed an eternity to be part of a big event. The final part in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This set of 3 movies was originally a set of 3 books, written 50 years ago, and called perhaps the most read books in the 20th century. And now, the final movie was about to start. People waited for the 1st movie – The Fellowship of the Ring. Then people waited for the 2nd movie – The Two Towers. And now, fans waited anxiously for the epic finale, the blockbuster, the last and the greatest: The Return of the King.
Now, I loved the books, written by Catholic scholar JRR Tolkien, and I loved the movies. The plot has many layers and many characters, but the title refers to Aragorn, rightful heir to the throne of Gondor, and how he rises up to be the king he was meant to be. Now, through all the hype and publicity, I found myself strangely drawn to Christian theology. I realized that while I was anxiously awaiting the movie, The Return of the King, I was also awaiting the return of the King of Kings. Even if it occurred to no-one else in that theatre, I realized I was looking forward to seeing the greatest King of all come to claim His throne.
Today we will look at a story that Jesus told, a parable of keeping an eye open for His return. We call it the parable of the 10 virgins or 10 bridesmaids – Matthew 25:1-13. Jesus had just finished teaching that the timing of His return would be unknown, and that His followers would need to be ready. By the way, that’s the point of the story. I’m giving you the ending even before we work through the passage: Get ready, and stay ready. Let’s read the parable together. READ.
Now, we have to understand just a little bit of Palestinian culture to understand this. Weddings were and are certainly big deals. And when a couple got married, the party could last for several days. Many people were invited, and there was much food and drink to be had by all. A wedding celebration was certainly a party you did not want to miss.
The wedding procession would begin at the bride’s house, and work its way through the streets of the city until it got to the groom’s house. And along the way, it would pick up more and more people, like a snowball rolling downhill. And once the procession arrived at the groom’s house, the doors would be shut and no more people would be let in. This is the setting for the 10 virgins or 10 bridesmaids. They were simply waiting to go to a big party and rejoice in a wedding feast.
Now, the first thing I want you to notice is who it is that’s waiting. Virgins. Now, this thought may be a little controversial, but I can’t help it. Virginity in the Bible always represents purity. Always. What Jesus is saying is that these 10 were pure people. These 10 represent people who were pure in heart, seeking after God. These were Christians.
Jesus did tell other stories about sinful people not being ready to meet the master when he returned. There’s the parable of the vineyard workers, who killed the messengers, even the only son, of the far-off master. But that’s not the spirit of this story. These people were not vengeful, selfish, or sinful. They were people who wanted to be with the groom. They were pure, and they were anxious to meet him.
Now, what’s scary about this thought is that even if at one time all these people were actually ready to meet the groom, at some point some were not. At some point, half of these people, who had once been ready to meet the groom, were not ready anymore. Even though they once had enough of what it took to meet the groom, that ran out. They let it run out. They didn’t have enough foresight to see it through till the end. They didn’t know when the groom was going to come, and so they lost track of their supplies. They were unwise in preparing for the future, and so they suffered the consequences.
So, if it can happen in a story that those who were once ready to meet the groom lost their readiness, what does that say about us? Even though Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 were directed towards the religious leaders, His words in ch.24-25 were to His disciples, his followers. These were not warnings given to His enemies, but His friends. Jesus was telling His followers to get ready and stay ready. If you don’t, there could be disastrous results.