In Matthew 24 Jesus prepares his disciples for His sudden return at any moment. Matthew 25 focuses on the importance of being prepared for Jesus’ return.
Jesus speaks these words to His disciples and to us today. The most important is to be ready for His return. Jesus uses a parable, a wedding story.
Ancient weddings are an illustration of the Kingdom of Heaven. A group of bridesmaids lit torches and led a procession at night through the town and this announced a wedding.
We are either ready or not ready for Jesus.
This is what the Kingdom of God will be like. There’s a need to prepare. We need to get our hearts and our minds ready. We are ready or we are not ready. We are in Christ or we are not in Christ. Jesus draws clear distinctions here. We have given our life to Christ or not.
Some bridesmaids are making good choices and some of them are foolish. The Greek word here for “foolish” means “stupid.” Not to be ready for the return of Christ is a stupid move. There’s a distinction between these two groups. It’s easy for us in our minds to make two groups:
1 1) Churched 2) Unchurched
But notice – Jesus is talking to the disciples here, not the crowds.
At a wedding we can easily pick out the bridesmaids. They appear to belong, but Jesus divides them in half: the ready and the not ready. I share these words with a heart of compassion for you. I love and care for you. Just because you are here in church today doesn’t mean we have given our life to God and that we are His. He wants us to be ready so He shares this. Are we ready for Jesus’ return? There’s five foolish and five wise.
Being ready includes thoughts and actions.
3For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,
4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
Clearly we see why some are wise and some are foolish. They had given thought but they didn’t take action. There are steps you take to be part of a wedding. When they heard this they knew they were not prepared. They knew about the procession. The key job of a bridesmaid was to lead the procession. There wasn’t any electricity back then so this isn’t city dark! This is country dark! No light! FIRE is the light. It was essential to have oil and this was their job. They did some steps. They’re present; they showed up.
In our own lives some things may look right. But have we given our life to God? Are we placing our faith in Him? We can go all our lives and never take that essential step. The essential step = give your life to God. Have you taken that step? Are you ready? This is critical.
We are each accountable for ourselves.
There are ten of them. Five wise and five foolish waiting together for when the groom comes. The groom is on the way! It’s time to go out and the foolish realize their mistake!
8And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’
It sounds to us like the five wise are selfish and aren’t sharing. “Lamp” means torch. It’s a long stick with fabric on the end. You dip it in the oil and coat the cloth. This lasts for about 15 minutes. Without enough oil it will only last a minute or two. If the torches went out they could not light the way. There wasn’t enough for everyone.
It’s like our flashlights. If each flashlight requires two batteries each and we have ten batteries, this is like asking to give one battery to each bridesmaid. Without two batteries we don’t have any light. What they’re saying here is it won’t work that way if we give you some oil. Five are ready but there’s no extra.
Ready or not, Jesus is coming.
10And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.
What is Jesus saying here? God’s grace is sufficient for us. The way God redeems us is through Jesus and it’s a surrendering of our life to what He has done. You cannot save up enough grace for someone else. As much as you love your spouse, children, friend, you cannot take them to Heaven. Nobody can do this for you. This is Jesus’ message to the disciples. Have you given your life to Christ? Have you told God you have sinned against Him? Have you felt conviction about your choices against God? This is the personal preparation.
The groom is on the way and here’s what happened. Five went to get oil. While they’re gone the groom arrives and they miss the wedding. Those who were ready entered the feast with the groom and the door was shut. God gives us time but when God calls us home the opportunity is gone. God calls us to prepare in advance. This might seem cruel. The door is shut. Actually it’s quite an insult to not be ready. They knew their responsibilities. We also know what is required of us. You know what God wants from you. When we stand before God there’s no excuse and no explanation. God gives us the opportunity to respond.
In our weddings today bridesmaids have one critical element: the dress! We can easily pick out the bridesmaids because of their dresses. What if you showed up in jeans and a t-shirt at a friend’s wedding and you asked another bridesmaid for half of her dress? “Let me wear half of yours!” You cannot wear half of a dress, so you rush off to get your dress but when you return the wedding is over. You ask for the wedding to be done over again for you. This is a HUGE insult!
13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
There will be no excuse. This is similar to the parable of the soil. The third soil grew up alongside the crops. It looks like the crop but it never produces any fruit. It never took that final step to give all over the God. God, I am yours! Help me to follow you with all my life!