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Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Bridegroom’s Arrival

When the student is ready, the master will come. ~ Chinese Proverb

Jesus warned his followers that they should prepare themselves for the arrival of the kingdom of God. The story of the wedding attendant is a cautionary tale against missing out on a unique opportunity. It is important to keep in a state of readiness for any challenging situation life might have in store for us.

The Ten Wedding Attendants Matthew 25:1-13

During a discourse with his disciples on the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem, Jesus prophesied how the end of the world would come about. Then, to stress the need to be ready for this moment and his Second Coming — when he would return after his death and resurrection to usher in the end of the world — he told a story about ten wedding attendants, traditionally known as the “wise and foolish virgins”. 

These women, Jesus said, set out with their oil lamps to meet a bridegroom, presumably to escort him to the bride’s home for the wedding, as was the custom. Five of them took flasks of oil to replenish their lamps, but five “foolish” ones did not. The bridegroom was delayed, however, and the attendants became drowsy and fell asleep. Not until midnight were they roused by a shout, warning them that he was now approaching.

To their horror, the five “foolish” attendants found that their lamps were going out. They asked the others to share their oil, but the wise attendants refused, fearing that if they did so their own lamps might also run out of oil before the wedding procession reached the bride’s house. So the foolish attendants went off to buy more oil. By the time they returned, the bridegroom and the other attendants had already entered the wedding hall, and the door was locked. When they called out for the door to be opened, they received the chilling reply, “In truth I tell you I do not know you.” which really means in effect, “I don’t want to have anything to do with you.”
The need for vigilance

Jesus seems originally to have intended the story to carry a warning to his hearers — be aware that the kingdom of God is at hand and seize the moment of salvation by being ready for the arrival of the bridegroom, a figure Jesus identified with himself elsewhere (Mark 2:19).
But after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the early church saw the parable as a warning to be alert and ready for Jesus’ Second Coming. Even if, like the bridegroom in the parable, Jesus’ return was delayed, Christians should “stay awake for you do not know either the day or the hour”.
Some later manuscripts make clearer the reference of the return of the Son of man. Christians, the parable teaches, must be prepared at all times; it is crucial not to have leave spiritual readiness to the last moment, for then it may be too late.

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