A couple nights ago I was stuck, and last night I was a zombie. Tonight is better. Today was the National Day of Prayer. I took some extra time to go through an old prayer list and appreciate the people God has laid on my heart over the years. I am not certain how best to structure my prayers as people come and go in my life, but God has been emphasizing the importance of prayer over and over and over the past few weeks. Okay, cool, I will work on that! So prayer is a new direction we will explore after we conclude the series of Jesus’ parables.
The one for tonight had me stumped. It is found in Matthew 25.
Ten virgins. One bridegroom. A ticking clock. Low oil.
But let me back up. Jesus is telling His disciples what to look for at His second coming/the end of the age. Rumors of wars. The fall of Jerusalem. A thief in the night, servants watching for their master.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.“
First of all, why ten virgins? That’s not as common a number in Jesus’ stories. Five are wise, five are foolish because they do not plan ahead to bring the oil they need. It is a long wait for the bridegroom to come for the marriage celebration, and everyone falls asleep. A crier announces that the bridegroom is coming, and everyone jumps up to get ready to meet him. The wise girls have more oil for their lamps, but the foolish ones have to run out in the middle of the night to find someone to sell them more. By the time they get back, the door is shut, and the bridegroom does not recognize them to let them in.
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
This parable is followed by a parable of the talents which has some interesting parables. A master trusts his servants with talents, which were large sums of money. He gave to each according to his ability, then he left for another country. The servant who received five talents made five more. The servant who received two talents also doubled his investment. But the one who received one talent dug in the ground to bury the treasure. Sounds like a squirrel or dog! Naturally, the master was not impressed by his investment techniques and he is cast out. The other two servants are given even more to care for since they have proven their worth.
Both stories involve a responsibility carried out over a long period of time. Both involve a master or bridegroom, common images for Christ. The crier is an image associated with an Elijah figure like John the Baptist who announced that Jesus was coming. I feel it is safe to assume that we the listeners are meant to associate with the people given a responsibility who have to wait for a long time for the master/bridegroom to return (2000 years later…).
So what is the oil and what are the talents?
There may be more clues in the story that follows, so we will explore this more tomorrow night.
God, thank You for preparing us for Your coming again. And it is hard to think of people being cast out, but You free us enough to give us the choice to not seek You. God, thank You that You love so well. Thank You for today, the prayers that were said, and please help our hearts to grow more and more aware of Your work in this world and how important it is to bring our lives to You. God, You have the plans, to You be all the glory! Amen.