Summary: Parables of Eternal Life, Part 8 of 9
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (Matt 25:1-13)
A good friend called me shortly on the Saturday afternoon exactly a week before the day of my wedding. He asked hesitatingly, “What are you doing?” I sensed something was amiss and asked him what he meant. After a brief pause, he asked meekly: “Aren’t you getting married today?” Refraining from laughing, I answered, “No, it is next week.” He mumbled, “My wife and I are standing outside the church you have picked for your wedding ceremony. I must have seen the wrong date on the invitation card.”
Poor guy. He had caught a break - his in-laws were available to baby-sit their two kids, who were 5 and 2, so that the couple could attend the wedding. As one of the two wedding ushers for the big day, he had a part in the wedding rehearsal but was spared from the rehearsal, with embarrassing consequences. All he had to do was to show up for the wedding day and do the ushering, a chore not unfamiliar to him.
The wedding usher realized something was wrong when he arrived to ample parking and quiet streets. Next week he and his wife returned to the same church, on the right date this time, and did his ushering best.
Jesus compared a person’s ill-preparation for His return to bridesmaids that slept on the job and missed out on the bride and groom’s wedding ceremony, the biggest day of their lives, and the subsequent wedding reception, party or banquet.
BE READY WITHIN, NOT OUTSIDE
25:1 "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.
A film crew was on location deep in the desert. One day an old Indian went up to the director and said, "Tomorrow rain." The next day it rained.
A week later, the Indian went up to the director and said, "Tomorrow storm." The next day there was a hailstorm. "This Indian is incredible," said the director. He told his secretary to hire the Indian to predict the weather for the remaining of the shoot.
However, after several successful predictions, the old Indian didn’t show up for two weeks. Finally the director sent for him. "I have to shoot a big scene tomorrow," said the director, "and I’m depending on you. What will the weather be like?" The Indian shrugged his shoulders. "Don’t know," he said. "My radio is broken."
Appearances are deceiving. The foolish virgins looked, dressed, and marched like bridesmaids. They were pretty, radiant, and even charming on the outside, but dreary, dim and dull on the inside. The word “foolish” is none other than the Greek word “moros,” or the English equivalent “moron,” for stupid.
The foolish virgins were not prepared for the wedding or the ceremony. Their oil did not run out at midnight; it ran out much earlier. They did not even have enough oil for one day. The groom’s arrival at midnight – before the wedding day was over – exposed them for who they were. They had lived their lives like a bad Cinderella story - when the clock struck midnight, the coach had turned into a pumpkin, the horses became mice, and the beautiful clothes turned shabby. Unfortunately, their gowns were beautiful and their makeup was perfect, but their heads were empty.
All that the foolish ones had to do was to bring extra olive oil, which wasn’t expensive, heavy, or rare. The oil should were probably at the expenses of the wedding couple, not the bridesmaid. The wise ones, however, brought oil in jars or vessels. The only other Greek occurrence of this word for jar or vessel is the word for basket or pail or what fishermen used to collect a good catch of fish (Matt 13:48). The work was tough, taxing and tiring. They knew they had their work cut out for them. They had to carry, drag and transport the jars around, but the girls were glad for their friends getting married, eager to help out their friends, and willing to do what was asked. Goofing, fooling, and lazing around would have to wait.
The five virgins were foolish because they saw the wise virgin’s intense preparation, incessant activities, and infectious spirit, but they did not ask how others did it, how much was necessary or how long to wait. Possibly, they did not care for the work, the gear or the baggage. They sure had ample time to change their minds and were free to talk to the wise ones. They were not sequestered or barred from meeting together, asking questions, seeking opinions or exchanging insights.