Matthew 25:1-13 – Are You Betting That Judgment Won’t Come?

Posted: March 23, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 25:1-13

The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

 

During 2011-2014, I was in seminary at the graduate school of North Greenville University. I was working full-time at my secular job and going to school two nights a week. In my “free time” the remainder of the week, I would have to squeeze in my homework and various papers that were due during the course of each class each semester. At the beginning of each semester, I would take my course syllabuses (or is that syllabi?) and lay them out on the table and see what had to be read, what assignments had to be completed before each class. I had to look at when papers were due and allow time for research and writing. If you have ever gone to school while working full-time, I am sure you can relate. Once I had all the reading assignments, writing assignments, and test dates, and research papers due dates laid out, I could then divvy up the workload into a daily schedule so that I could breakdown the massiveness of each semester’s requirements into daily bite-sized chunks. To stay on schedule each day, though, it would often require staying up til 1am in the morning to get that day’s work done. I knew that if I did not stay on schedule, the schedule would fall apart. It would be a snowball effect of work having to flow over into the next day’s chunk plus that day’s chunk itself. It could get out of control quickly if I did not stay on schedule. Preparation and planning were the key to the whole deal. It was kind of like those critical path things that engineers and schedulers do on these major construction projects where you figure out drop dead dates for key activities all of which are inter-related to each other and back up from there based on knowledge of lead times of activities and so on. That was the way it was for me when I was in seminary. Seeing when drop dead dates were for things in each class and working my way back from there to make sure I was ready for each critical date when it arrived.

 

That was the illustration that came to mind when I read through our Scripture passage for today as we start the next chapter in Matthew, Matthew 25:1-13. Here, Jesus says to His disciples:

 

25 “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

 

6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

 

7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

 

9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

 

10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

 

12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

 

13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

 

Of course, as you can see here, this parable on the surface is about a wedding. In first century Palestine, on the wedding day the bridegroom went to the bride’s house for the ceremony, then the bride and groom, along with a great procession returned to the groom’s house where a big feast would be held. These feasts would often last a full week (because in those days there were no cars so people stayed a while after they had traveled a great distance to attend an event). These ten bridesmaids were waiting to join the procession and they hoped to take part in the wedding feast. But when the groom did not come at the expected time, five of them were out of lamp oil. By the time they had purchased the extra oil that they had needed, it was too late to join the feast. They were not prepared and they were left out of the feast.

 

This parable has lessons for us in the 21st century as well as what was taught to the disciples in the first century. The takeaway we should have from this parable is that spiritual preparation cannot be bought or borrowed at the last minute. Our relationship with God is our own responsibility. Ignoring God or saying that He does not exist is a risky proposition. Not being prepared for eternity is a risky proposition. Acting like there will be no judgment upon at our physical death or when Jesus returns in His glory to end all things is a risky proposition. Betting against Scripture which tells us that we will be judged is a risky bet. For all those who detract from Scripture and bet against the house, Scripture has been proven to be true over and over and over. Is this a bet you are willing to take? Acting like God does not exist does not make Him stop existing. Acting as though Scripture is no longer true does not make it any less true. It is like knowing you have a term paper due at the end of the semester and not planning ahead for that, not being prepared. Sure, there will be those who will fail the test but there are those that when the truth of Jesus Christ is presented to them, they will hunker down and be prepared. That’s where our witness to others as Christ followers becomes so important. The test is coming! The term paper will be due at the end of the semester! We must witness and help people prepare for their eternity and tell them of the saving grace of Jesus Christ!

 

I know that for me personally, I did not find salvation in Jesus Christ until I was almost 39 years old. I always thought during the first 30-something years of my life that I wanted to live my life, sow my wild oats, before “settling down and becoming a Christian!” I always thought I could put off til tomorrow what I could’ve done today when it came to this whole Jesus thing. I rebelled against the church even though I grew up in it. Jesus, I will deal with you later. Let me live my life first. Let me do things my way first. Let me be me first. What a dangerous gamble that was is what I say to myself now. Looking back on those years before I met Christ. What a gamble that was! I bought into the whole Bible is ancient literature, full of inconsistencies thing as my justification. I bought into the whole church is full of condescending hypocrites thing. I bought into the whole the Bible does not fit today’s culture thing (and that was before a lot of the stuff that we have seen in the culture in this regard over the last 10 years). It was all bullcrap when I look back at the way I felt. I was just being like the people of Noah’s time. I just wanted to party it up and ignore. Live life my way and ignore. How do you do that? You say that Scripture is flawed. You say Scripture is not valid. You find ways to prove it is wrong. It is like the district attorney in the Duke lacrosse case 10 years ago. He had predetermined that he was going to charge these lacrosse players at Duke and the case was built trying to support that claim. The truth did not matter. He was going to find what he wanted to find. Those of us who are or were pre-salvation will do that. We stack the deck against the Bible to find what we want to find so that we can justify our lifestyle.

 

The truth is that there will be judgment upon us all. Jesus talked about it all the time. We must be ready. We must be prepared! How do we get prepared? We run into to Christ followers who care so deeply about our eternity that they will witness to us about what God has done in their own lives when the reality of judgment was made clear to them. We are all sinners no matter what the culture tells us. None of us can be good enough to make to heaven which requires perfection and sinlessness. It is only through the covering of grace that our sins will not condemn us to eternal separation – being left standing outside the wedding feast. Is this the gamble you are willing to take by all your justifications for your lifestyle. God’s truth stays eternal regardless of how you justify that it is isn’t! We will be judged. Bank on it. Bet on it! Be ready! Be prepared!

 

Amen and Amen!

 

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