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The Pastor's Blog

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I’ve conducted a few weddings. I like to be finished with the ceremony and see the happy husband and wife march out of the sanctuary in less than thirty minutes. The way I see it, there’s not much sense in preaching a long sermon because nobody’s listening. The couple is thinking about the honeymoon, and everybody else is staring at the girl in the white dress and looking forward to the cake and punch. “Kiss her, and let’s get to the reception!”

Weddings in the first century were different. The festivities started at the groom’s home when the groom and his attendants marched in procession to the bride’s home where the bride and her bridesmaids were dressed and ready, excitedly expecting the arrival of the groom. Upon his arrival, the groom would accept his beautiful bride and, with great fanfare, walk with her back to his home for a celebration, a feast, a family festival, sometimes lasting for a week… seven days!

The Old Testament promised a Messiah, a Husband for His chosen bride. “Indeed, your husband is your Maker - his name is the Lord of Armies - and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer” (Isaiah 54:5). With this imagery in mind, Jesus told a parable picturing Himself as a groom.

“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom” (Matthew 25:1). Jesus pictured the scene outside the bride’s home. The bride was ready and waiting for her groom to arrive. Her ten bridesmaids were dressed in their beautiful gowns and had taken their positions on the path leading up to the home. Night had fallen, and each of the bridesmaids carried a lantern.

For some unknown reason the groom was delayed. Maybe he was busy making final preparations for the extravagant reception. During the long delay, “they all became drowsy and fell asleep. In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him’ ” (Matthew 25:5-6).

The ten virgins jumped to attention. Because the wait was longer than expected, the bridesmaid’s lanterns had gone out. Five of the bridesmaids had brought extra oil. They were well prepared. But the other five weren’t. “Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out” … “No, there won’t be enough for us and for you. Go instead to those who sell oil, and buy some for yourselves” (Matthew 25:8-9). When the five bridesmaids were at the corner market buying oil, the groom arrived and ushered the bride back to his home.

When the unprepared bridesmaids finally arrived at the groom’s home, they knocked at the door. “ ‘Master, master, open up for us!’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you!’ ” (Matthew 25:11-12).

Jesus finished His parable with an admonition for His disciples. “Be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour”(Matthew 25:13). Jesus, the Groom, is coming to gather His beloved bride. “Concerning that day and hour no one knows” (Matthew 24:36). “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:7). “The day of the Lord will come like a thief” (2 Peter 3:10).

Is your light shining? Are you ready for the Master’s return?

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