Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
In Matthew 24, Jesus tells a story about ten bridesmaids, waiting at the groom’s house for him to bring his bride to the wedding. When they found the bride, the groom’s companions would parade the bride and groom through town and country on their way home, choosing the route for friendly social impact instead of a carefully scheduled arrival.
While this was happening, the bridesmaids talked themselves out, grew tired of waiting, and fell asleep. At midnight someone shouted, “The groom is coming!” The bridesmaids rushed to prepare their lamps, but only five of them, the wise ones, had enough oil. The other five said, “Hey, can you loan us some oil?” But the wise ones said, “We only have enough for ourselves.”
While the five rushed out to buy oil, the bride and the groom arrived, started the party, and locked the door. When the five returned they knocked and said, “Please let us in.” But the groom replied, “Sorry, I don’t know you” and left them out in the night.
Here are some observations on this story.
First, it’s a story for our place in history. We are the bridesmaids, waiting for Jesus to return. But two thousand years and seventy generations of Christians later, there’s still no sign of his coming. Perhaps we need extra oil for our lamps.
Second, all ten bridesmaids fell asleep, so in this parable, the point isn’t staying awake and watching. Jesus called some “foolish”, not because they slept, but because they didn’t carry extra oil to keep their lamps lit in case the party was delayed. Were they supposed to predict an unexpected delay and prepare for it?
Third, what does it mean for me to be waiting with a lamp, carrying extra oil in case the party is delayed? It’s an odd metaphor to layer onto my dog-walking, book-reading, video-producing, automobile-driving days.
Fourth, When the five who went out to get oil returned to the party, why didn’t the groom open the door to them? Seems rather harsh. They solved their problem, didn’t they? They found the oil they needed. Did his “No” perhaps mean, “Not now. Come back tomorrow”?
Our father, it’s been a long wait for Jesus’ return, two thousand years and counting. In that time, the Roman empire has fallen, the nation of Israel has disappeared and come back again. The religion of Islam has risen to worldwide prominence. The Christian church has split into Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant branches. The human race has worked miracles with technology–miracles of communication, agricultural production, entertainment and weapons development. But we haven’t solved the problems of evil and poverty and prejudice and war.
So we continue to wait for your kingdom, Jesus, for your return. We are not world-movers; we are your humble servants. But we receive into our small lives the gifts you offer in your stories. Here is our mustard seed of faith. Here is our pinch of yeast in the bread you are making. Here is our supply of oil in the lamp of faith.
Teach us to be like the wise bridesmaids, keeping a constant supply of the oil of your kingdom. Renew and replenish the motivation of our lives, the preparation of our hearts, the deepness of our trust, that will keep our lamps burning, ready for the great wedding party you promised when at last you return.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.