Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jesus Has Never Been Late Before

By Allen White

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Matthew 25:1-13

If the virgins made a simple mistake, why should they be locked out? After all, everything tends to run out eventually. Were they supposed to roll out a 55 gallon drum of oil just in case? Can you roll a drum of oil wearing a bridesmaid’s dress?

When we look at biblical archeology, we discover these ladies weren’t packing Coleman lanterns. The lamps were so small, you could fit several in the palm of your hand. Of course, they would run out of oil. To not bring extra oil was, well, foolish.

Their lack of preparation kept them from the wedding feast. They knew the “oil life” on the lamps. They could have brought extra oil. This was not a ridiculous requirement.

The parable points to those who are prepared for Christ’s coming. We know Christ will return. He said so, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).

Just like the virgins waiting for the bridegroom, Jesus warned His followers, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  The requirement for the virgins to enter the wedding banquet was simple: be ready to go in when the door opens.

They didn’t know when the door would open. They didn’t seek out experts in predicting door openings or create psychological profiles of the bridegroom to see if he was typically punctual or tardy.

Jesus isn’t tardy. He isn’t behind schedule. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Jesus hasn’t returned. No news flash there. Jesus is patiently waiting for those who are at risk of perishing to come to Him. Who do you know who might be at risk?

Pray for them today. Pray for their openness to hearing the truth. Pray about an opportunity to share with them.

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