Summary: A Parable of Preparedness
WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE
The Bible is a book about relationships and love.
Christ is the friend who “sticketh closer than a brother.”
God is Father. Christ is the bridegroom and we, the church are His bride.
Right now Christ is physically “absent” while He is preparing a place for us to come and be with Him forever.
And we, like the early Christians, wonder what will happen to those of us who are alive or dead when he returns.
The two passages we have read this morning are in the Bible to answer that question for us.
Matthew is the parable of the ten virgins each of which attended a wedding celebration at night with their lanterns.
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, 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 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. When the bridegroom tarried, they fell asleep. Suddenly they were awakened by the sound of His coming.
Five discovered they had no oil in their lamps so they could not see their way to go and meet the groom. The five who had oil could not loan them any of theirs so they left to buy oil. But in the meantime the groom came and they missed the opportunity to join Him.
“The door was shut” the scripture tells us. The bridegroom said he didn’t even know them. They may have known about Him and even called Him “Lord, Lord” but they could not enter the kingdom.
Like the story of Noah and the ark, this is a grim reminder that not everyone will be saved. There comes a time when the time to choose Christ as our Savior is up for each of us. And “we do not know the day or the hour.” when Christ will return.
This is a parable about preparedness. The five foolish virgins seemed all caught up in the excitement of the possibility of a wedding and a banquet, the way some folks are all caught up about religious activity.
They were moral, but not godly, enthusiastic but not enduring, they knew right but didn’t do right. They lacked the essential oil of the Holy Spirit so they could not endure to the end.
I heard a story about a couples’ first date. The girl got ready and waited and waited for the boy to show up. Finally she figured she had been stood up so she took off her makeup, put on her pajamas, went to the fridge and fixed a snack, put her dog in her lap and began to watch TV. Well, then you know what happened of course….the guy showed up
When she came to the door and he saw her he said, “What? I am two hours late and you are still not ready?”
The Bible assures us, “though He tarry, He will come.”
A relationship to Christ is based upon being born of His Spirit into His family and this keeps the “love light” burning in your heart until He comes for you.
Notice that both groups slept. One was ready and could rest. The other rested but was not ready.
Spiritual readiness cannot be loaned or borrowed, it is an individual matter. I pray you will not rest if you are not ready. Now is the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation.
Jesus chose this illustration of being prepared for His return as the topic of His last sermon. Surely this shows its importance.
Now look at the situation in our passage from I Thessalonians.
The early Christians thought the Lord would return before they died…. but what if He didn’t?
Did that mean they would not be saved?
This scripture assures us that neither the living or dead
“in Christ” is disadvantaged. Believers are to remember Christ’s resurrection and anticipate their own.
The Lord will come down and the dead in Christ will rise up first. Their spirits will be brought back with him and their bodies will rise from the grave to be joined with their spirit.
Beth Moore gave an illustration which I will use today to explain perhaps how this will happen. Since the spirit of the dead is alive with Christ, he brings them back to join their body at the time of His return.