Matthew 25:1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.

But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.

Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:1-13

I got stuck after Easter. I’m very grateful to the members of Faith who wrote daily devotions for the Easter season. It is much easier to send out devotions when someone else is writing them and what they all, all from their own hearts and points of view, were very good. Then, when I turned back to Matthew to pick up the story, I got stuck.

Then I got stuck in the hospital. I went through a major surgery that I didn’t see coming that really knocked the wind out of my sails. Like everyone else, it wasn’t the hours that I spent in surgery that was the problem, it was the weeks of recovery that I only foggily remember. But now I’m much better, back at work, and back at my computer first thing every morning.

I still found myself stuck on this opening story in the 25th chapter of Matthew. I really don’t know what to make of it. I read it and I realize that weddings in the Bible are always significant and always a metaphor directed toward God. I have read about the multi-day nature of weddings in Jesus’ day but that doesn’t help. Because I can’t seem to get past those foolish bridesmaids who find themselves locked out of the wedding feast because they didn’t think to fill their lamps with oil.

All of my life I have heard people talk about the Christian faith in a way that makes it seem very logical, very biblical, to see life in such a way that is very OK with the idea that the wise get the goodies and the foolish get the shaft. Sorry, foolish bridesmaids, you don’t get to come in. Like the Titanic, this world is going down and the wise have hopped into the Jesus lifeboat while the foolish plunge into the sea. I am not OK with that. It is amazing grace that saves a wretch like me, not my own wisdom to keep my lamp filled with oil.

There is a way of reading this story that pours fuel on the fires of Christian entitlement, Christian privilege, and Christian arrogance. It is almost an anti-Christian story in that, in my mind, the Christian thing to do is to share my oil with those who don’t have enough, or to let them take my lamp and head to the party.

So I get stuck on this story (and those which follow) which Jesus told at a critical time in his life. Or, at least, which Matthew places in a strategic moment in Jesus’ life. The cross is just around the corner. The first will be last. All is not as it seems.

Let us pray: Keep us awake, Lord Jesus, even when we feel stuck in our ways of thinking, seeing, and being. Keep us awake and open, Lord Jesus, that we not miss your party nor content ourselves with the idea that it is OK that others do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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5 Responses to “Matthew 25:1-13”

  1. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Pastor, welcome back! I missed you and your unique devotions. I like the message today because it challenges me to read deeper into the Biblical teachings and to pray with a more opened mind. I hope you are feeling better and are out of harm’s way.

  2. Carolee Groux Says:

    So sorry to hear you had a major health issue, but I am happy to welcome you back. Your congregation members led us well in provoking thought and understanding from the scriptures of Matthew.

    And today’s scripture and lesson also teaches us to remain awake and open to all that the Lord sets in our pathways, whether it be a health crisis, a stumbling block for bridesmaids hoping to attend a wedding, or our everyday doubts and fears.

    Lord, keep us mindful of our obligations to ourselves and others. By your grace we are saved. Amen.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Maybe they just got left out of something they really wanted to do–they will have another chance.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Welcome back. Seeing your post put a smile on my face and in my heart as it always does.
    Thank you for giving an additional view of the Bible and encouraging others to continue to read and meditate on God’s word.
    Prayers for your continued good health.

  5. Arnie Walter Says:

    I just want to say so very glad to hear you’re “back on the block” 🙂 I much appreciate your devotions when you manage to get them out. Glad to hear you’ve overcome a health issue. I’m also formerly a North Dakota country kid so that’s special. I also look forward to your FB posts. God bless you well!! 🙂

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