Matthew 25:1-30 has Jesus telling two stories. The first is about ten girls waiting on a bridegroom to come. They wait and wait, late into the night. They didn’t know when he would get there, just that he would come eventually. Five planned ahead and took extra oil with them for their lamps. Five didn’t. Finally, when he is showing up, all of their lights were out, and they wouldn’t be allowed into the house. The five with extra oil were able to light their lamps, because they had prepared ahead. The five without oil missed out.
The second story is about three servants who are entrusted with money. The first two take a risk and invest it, doubling the money, which is an amazing return on your money. The third takes no chances, and buries it in the ground, so he is guaranteed not to lose any of it. His motive is fear. He is afraid of the master, and lets fear run his poor planning. He loses everything in the end because of it.
So what is Jesus doing in these stories? Why does a bridegroom get ten virgins? Why does He compare God to a tough minded, business executive in the second story? They are not your normal show-and-tell variety stories for sure.
One thing that is clear is the warning to be ready. Jesus will come back. And it will take a long time. So often, it seems in the Bible His warnings are to be ready, I’m coming soon. But here, both stories imply that the God figure is gone for a long time, and the people become complacent because of it. Jesus has been gone a long time. Where are we complacent?
Secondly, Jesus is telling us that we may not know God as well as we think. The comparisons in here leave me shaking my head. God is like a dude marrying 10 girls? God is like Donald Trump on the Apprentice (“you’re fired!”)? I’m not sure about how direct we are supposed to compare God to these characters, but it sure rattles me to think maybe I’m too comfortable with my view on God, and I’m making Him too small. I need to be careful of becoming complacent in my view of God, as well as my obedience to Him.
The third thing, in both stories, He comes back. And some people are rewarded. They did what they were supposed to, and they were rewarded handsomely. There were parties, and celebrations, and hugs and happiness. I want to be in that lineup when God comes back for me. I want to be in that lineup today, and be with Him today. When He comes back, I want it to be clear that I am waiting on Him, and excited to see Him. It will be worth it.
What are you waiting on?