Watch and be Wise

Posted: March 24, 2013 in Matthew

Matthew 24:42-25:13, “Watch and be Wise”

Today is Palm Sunday – the day that Jesus walked through the gates of Jerusalem & He was received by the people with praises as the Messiah.  Their King had come to them, and they were glad!  Of course, they would not remain glad for long, and the chief priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, and lawyers lined up to try to test and discredit Jesus from being the Christ.  The Jews ended up rejecting their proper King, and Jerusalem would be left desolate as a result.  But it would not always remain that way.  Jesus has promised to come again, and those who believe in Him are to watch and wait for His coming.

Chapter 24 ends with a couple of parables that seems to introduce the first two parables of Chapter 25 (of which we’re only looking at one).  In the ending parable of Ch 24 there is a pair of servants, wise and foolish.  In the opening parable of Ch 25 there are two groups of women, wise and foolish.  Each is faced with an authority figure being gone, and the way each reacts in the meantime determines what they receive at the end.

All of that sounds well and good, and could serve as any general lesson for ethics and preparedness.  Yet there is nothing general about any of this.  The whole context that Jesus has been teaching upon is the reality of His future return.  He has made it clear that although Jerusalem and the Jews will have some tough days ahead, nothing like what they will experience in the near future will come close to equaling the days of the Great Tribulation that lie ahead.  Those are the days that Antichrist will run rampant upon the world, the wrath of God will be poured out, and unless God shortened the days no human could possibly survive.  The good news is that God WILL shorten the days, and the way He shortens them is the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ.  All the earth will see Jesus when He comes in power and authority, and it will be a day of mourning for those who have rebelled against Christ, but it is a blessed day of hope for those who have placed their hope and faith in Christ.

With all of that in mind, Jesus tells them that the day of His Coming can be both generally expected (as in terms of seasons), but the day and the hour are completely unknown (in terms of specifics).  The Bible speaks clearly of certain things that will be going on in the years leading up to Jesus’ coming, but the actual date and moment of Jesus’ return is unknown.  Not even Jesus knew it, at least at the time that He spoke to the disciples.  When Jesus does come, it will be sudden and severe, like the flood during the days of Noah.  The people should have been expecting the rains and floodwaters when they heard Noah preach & saw him building the ark, but they carried on as normal & were swept away in judgment.  It will be likewise at the end of the age.  God will preserve His own people (because He knows His people and loves them), but everyone else will be taken away in judgment. 

That’s not to say that God’s people have nothing to do except sit back and hunker down during the days of the Great Tribulation.  Jesus is speaking to His own people when He tells them to watch – this is something in which to be actively engaged.  After all, those days will be days of great deception, and Jesus does not want His people to be deceived.  So His exhortation here is to watch & be wise.  Those who truly know that our Lord will return will be wise in their relationship with Him in the meantime.

Matthew 24:42–51
42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

  1. We looked at this verse last time, but Jesus seems to intentionally “bookend” these three illustrations/parables with this statement, so it’s worth paying attention to…  Note the address to the disciples.  When Jesus has spoken about judgment, He’s made it clear that God will distinguish between those who belong to Christ & those who do not, as well as the fact that those who do not belong to Christ will not be looking for His coming.  But those who DO belong to Christ are not to grow lazy.  Believers are to be proactive in looking to their Lord Jesus.  The believers won’t have any more knowledge than anyone else about the exact schedule of Jesus’ coming, and they need to be vigilant in their watch.
  2. Remember that Jesus’ context is His 2nd Coming.  The question the disciples originally asked had been about the 2nd Coming (24:3), and Jesus described what His 2nd Coming will look like in great detail, as well as the need not to be deceived by false reports of His coming (24:23-31).  Although this is a debated point, it does not seem that He is speaking here of the rapture.  The rapture is a different event in which Jesus calls born-again believers deceased and living to rise up in a moment to meet Him in the air.  In fact, the rapture seems to be the event that kicks off the period of time known as the Great Tribulation, which Jesus has spent much time describing in Ch 24.  As believers in the Church age, the rapture is the immediate event we await, rather than Jesus’ 2nd Coming.  We certainly have much to look forward to in the 2nd Coming, and we’ll have front-row seats to it all as the Bride of Christ, but it is important to maintain the proper distinction between the two events.
    1. BTW – this is an area of disagreement among Bible-believing born-again Christians.  The timing of the rapture and the chronology of end-time events are very important doctrines to study, and what we believe about what the Bible says about these doctrines will have a direct impact on how we live for Christ today…BUT they are not doctrines that are absolutely essential to salvation.  An amillennialist can be just as saved as a pre-tribulation pre-millennial dispensationalist, and there can also be people who say they are pre-trib-pre-mill while being false converts, etc.  The essentials of our faith are regarding the nature of God, the deity of Christ, Jesus’ crucifixion & resurrection, and His substitutionary atonement that saves us completely by His grace.  We need to be careful not to add to what the Bible says about salvation, even while we passionately hold to what we believe is true.
  3. That said, the application of what Jesus says about the 2nd Coming apply almost exactly to the Rapture as well.  Just as no one knows the day or the hour of His physical return, no one knows the day or the hour of His call to the church.  We could literally be looking at Jesus face to face at any moment, so just about everything Jesus says here to the future Jewish and Gentile believers during the days of the Tribulation applies equally to the Church of today.

43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

  1. If most of us would think of an analogy for Jesus’ 2nd Coming, we most likely would not have come up with criminal activity.  Our Lord certainly isn’t a burglar.  Of course the activity is not the point; the timing is.  Homeowners don’t set their appointment calendars for burglaries, and a thief obviously would not dare breaking into a home in which they believed the homeowner was waiting for them with a loaded shotgun.  It’s when the burglar is NOT expected that he comes, and the homeowner is taken advantage of. So what should a homeowner do?  Always be ready.  A wise homeowner is prepared in advance for emergencies.  Thus vs. 44…

44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

  1. Question: how can someone be ready for the unexpected?  After all, Jesus just got done saying that the master of the house should have been watching, and thus expecting the thief.  The obvious parallel is that God’s people are to be watching for Jesus, so God’s people would be expecting Jesus at any time.  But of course that’s the point.  Those who are watching for the moment of Jesus’ coming won’t know exactly when He’ll come, hence the need to be always ready & watching.  It’s like when you’re expecting visitors to arrive in the afternoon, but you don’t know exactly when – so you keep on alert and wait.
  2. Notice the assurance that comes up every time Jesus teaches this: He IS coming.  There ought to be no doubt of that fact.

45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?

  1. Here’s the 2nd parable: the wise vs. the evil servant.  Jesus introduces the “faithful and wise servant” first, and it’s the two concepts of faithful and wise that He will go on to illustrate in Chapter 25 separately.  The parable of the virgins deals with wisdom, whereas the parable of the talents deals with faithfulness.  All of them continue to deal with the overall theme of watchfulness for the master.
  2. The word used for “wise” is common in the NT, but nearly as common as another word (sophos, “cleverness, skillfulness”) which takes up half of the translations in the NT.  The word used here (φρόνιμος) is indeed wisdom, but refers more to “thoughtfulness” and “understanding,” perhaps even “maturity.”  The wise servant here is someone who thinks things through, taking the effort to ensure he understands things properly – a good quality for those Christians who await our Lord & Master!
  3. The servant is also “faithful,” contextually meaning that he is trustworthy and reliable.  The master knows that the servant is not going to be wasteful, and will use the master’s resources (including time) with care.  Jesus is describing a servant (a slave) that would be desired by any household master.  This is someone who would be as Joseph was while he was sold as a slave by his brothers.  When Joseph ended up as a slave to the Egyptian captain of the guard, Potiphar (Gen 39), he was so faithful and wise that Potiphar trusted him with his entire house.
  4. Of course, the two concepts “faithful & wise” go hand-in-hand with each other.  After all, a servant who is wise certainly would not be wasteful, and a servant that is careless with what is entrusted to him could not be any means be described as thoughtful & wise.  On one hand, the two concepts seem to be unrelated – one is intellectual & the other is practical.  But in reality, one cannot really exist without the other.
    1. As Christians, we need to both understand what Jesus says (wisdom), and then apply it (faithfulness).  We cannot apply what we do not understand, nor can we claim to truly have understood what Jesus tells us if we do not bother to put it into action. …

46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.

  1. Obviously the master is pleased when he sees his servant working.  He knew the servant could be trusted while he was away, and when he returns, he finds that his trust was well-bestowed.  The servant actively working at even the very moment of his return.  And the servant was rewarded as a result.  The servant had already been a ruler over all of the master’s house, but now there would be nothing that the master possessed that the servant did not administer.  As much as he had, he would be given far more.
  2. This is a blessing!  The word used here is the same word Jesus used when teaching the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount.  How happy is that servant on the day his master is pleased with him.  (Which speaks highly of the quality of the master!)  This is what the servant had labored to do, and his labor would not go unrewarded.

48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,

  1. Please note Jesus does not describe this servant as “foolish,” but as “evil.”  The contrast in the parable of the virgins will be in foolishness, but this particular servant goes beyond foolishness and into outright sin.  He is not only lazy, but wicked.  He knows that his master is taking a long time in return, so he decides to use the time to engage in all of his lusts.  Although Jesus doesn’t describe anything in particular, the whole assumption is that there were certain responsibilities that this servant was expected to do by the master, and the servant neglected all of them.  And beyond that, he is cruel & evil.  He does not seem to have authority over the other servants, but he beats them.  The picture Jesus paints is of a servant laying around all day, goes carousing with his friends, and comes back in violent fits…the complete opposite of the first servant!

50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  1. This servant also receives a reward, but it is not one of blessing – it is one of wrath & judgment.  The master had indeed delayed, but now came at a time that the servant did not expect, and judged him harshly.  The evil servant is either literally “cut in two,” or is perhaps whipped in such a way that he is described as being cut in two (the master would have had the legal right to do either), and the evil servant is exposed as the hypocrite that he is, and suffers greatly as a result.  How great is the wrath that comes upon this evil servant?  Jesus uses the same language He often does when describing Hell.  The contrast between the two servants could not be greater.  One finds pleasure with the master and goes on to more and more blessing; one encounters the wrath of the master and goes on to terrible suffering.
  2. What made the difference?  Wisdom and faithfulness.  The first servant had it; the second servant did not – and worse, it seems that he was on the opposite extreme.  It wasn’t that the second servant merely misunderstood the times and his responsibility – after all, he knew clearly that his master was delayed, but that he had a master and that he did have responsibilities.  Instead, the second servant took advantage of the master’s delay to try to squeeze in as much evil as possible, and he received justice as a response.  It was more than a matter of a lack of wisdom; it was an active rejection of it.
  3. That’s the way it is with people’s relationship with God.  It’s not that people don’t know that God exists, and that He desires us to live rightly in worship of Him.  That much is revealed in the creation that surrounds us, and through our consciences (Rom 1-2).  It’s that people actively reject God to willfully engage in their (our) own lusts.  We understand that we are to treat one another with kindness and respect, but we choose rude selfishness instead.  People see with their own eyes the ordered creation around them showing the evidence of a Creator, but they choose to reject that evidence to allow themselves to be their own god.  (And that doesn’t even begin to describe all the myriads of ways we find to break the law of God!)  There is a conscious rejection of the God who created us, and gave us time upon this earth to be faithful to Him, and thus there will be a day of reckoning and judgment in which the Ultimate Master will give out what is rightly deserved.
  4. Contextually, remember that Jesus is speaking to His disciples about His 2nd Coming.  He is telling them (and specifically, the people who will be believers in Christ during the days of the Great Tribulation) that they are to actively watch and be active while they await His coming.  There will be some servants who are wise, and there will be some servants who are evil.  Will every single person who believes in Christ automatically considered “wise and faithful”?  Perhaps – obviously no one’s salvation rests upon their own ability to save themselves or to keep themselves saved.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is what saves any of us (no matter which time period in which we live).  At the same time, Jesus gives the warning for a reason.  He is telling HIS disciples to watch for their Lord, and Jesus thought this warning so necessary that He repeats it over & over again through many different illustrations and parables.  Why would He need to do this if everyone He was addressing would automatically be considered blessed & wise?  It would seem that not everyone who appears to be a believer in Christ (a servant of God) will actually be one. 
  5. Remember that the Great Tribulation will be a time of great deception.  There would be false prophets that arise & deceive many, resulting in lawlessness and lovelessness (24:11-12).  There would be many false christs and false prophets in addition to Antichrist who causes the abomination of desolation (24:24).  Because of all of the rampant deception, there will undoubtedly be false converts (just as there are today).  Not only would the false prophets be unconverted, but they will surely deceive others who might initially align themselves with the Christians, but will not endure until the end (24:13).  God knows the difference between those who truly belong to Him, and those who play the game on the outside to everyone else.  It is not enough to merely be with other believers in Christ and to appear to be a “fellow servant” – a person must truly belong to Christ, and that belonging will be made evident to all through their faith and their actions (fruit).
  6. The next parable Jesus tells makes this distinction a bit clearer…

Matthew 25:1–13
1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

  1. At this point we need to remember the differences between parables and allegories.  It would be easy to look at this particular teaching and start to try to pull out every single detail to fit every possible allegory.  However, we’d be taking the illustration beyond what Jesus was doing with it.  This is His typical set up for a parable teaching, and thus we need to interpret it according to parables.  There are one or two points that are focused upon in a parable, and everything else seemingly sets the stage.  To interpret things allegorically is to look for hidden meanings behind every single aspect, and when we do, we can not only interpret some things incorrectly, but we can miss the forest for the trees.
  2. The reason we need to remember this is because Jesus describes two groups of virgins who are preparing for an elaborate wedding.  It would be easy to get caught up in the supposed purity of each group, and interpret both as being born-again Christians – but as will be apparent from the end of the parable, obviously one group is not saved.  If they aren’t saved, how could they be described as being virgin?  This is the difference between parable & allegory.  The point is not their virginity or purity; the point is their wisdom (or lack thereof).  The fact that Jesus describes them as virgins simply sets the scene for the story He’s about to tell.  We don’t need to read anything further into what He says beyond that.
    1. It is interesting that Jesus takes an equal look at the genders in the various illustrations.  Back when He likened the end days to the days of Noah, He spoke of the judgment of God discerning between two men and two women.  With the parable of the servants, the wise & the evil were likely men.  Here, with the parable of the virgins, He is obviously speaking of women (young maidens).
  3. The wedding Jesus alludes to in the background seems to be big (20 ladies in attendance), but not really unusual for the day, though different than what we do today.  The groom and the parents of the bride would arrange the marriage (including the dowry price), and the groom would go prepare his home for his bride, sometimes building a new house entirely.  Once arrangements were complete, he would come to the bride’s home and they would celebrate with a feast before he took her back to their new home together.  (BTW – this is exactly the picture that Jesus uses with us as His church!  John 14:1-3)  The two groups of virgins are seemingly attendants & friends of the bride who are awaiting this hour of feasting.  They know that the time of the bridegroom is at hand, and so they have lamps ready for a late hour – they just don’t know the exact moment of his coming.
  4. As with the parable of the servants, there is a contrast.  Here, “five of them were wise, and five were foolish.”  The word for wisdom is the same as with the parable of the servants, but the word for foolish is different (not a simple negation of the word).  It’s actually very common in the NT (μωρός…~ moronic), referring to being dull-witted or stupid.  So again, we have opposite categories: one group that is thoughtful & discerning, and another group which is completely thoughtless.  Each group was invited to the wedding, but only one group is taking care of what it is they are doing.

3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

  1. There are different thoughts to what the lamps actually were (oil lamps or torches with oil-soaked rags), but that is rather immaterial to the parable.  The whole contrast is set up with whether or not the women actually had the oil that was necessary for their lamps to burn.  The wise women made sure that they had plenty of oil for their lamps to shine when necessary, whereas the foolish women took lamps but no oil.  Think about that for a moment – this really underscores their foolishness.  Why would anyone take a lamp, but not take what was needed for the lamp to burn?  It would be like taking a flashlight without batteries.  At that point, it’s useless.  It’s not enough to have the tool, if there is no capability to use it.  They had a lamp but no way to light it.  From the outside, they looked just like the wise virgins (they had lamps just like everyone else), but the inside of the lamp made all of the difference in the world.
  2. What the oil represents is a matter of some debate.  Some would say the oil doesn’t mean anything.  Obviously, we are not looking to allegorize the parable, but the point of the parable hinges directly on the lack of preparation & lack of oil – so this is all part of Jesus’ teaching.  When looking at the broader scope of Scripture, oil is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  There was the oil that was used to anoint priests for ministry & kings for service.  There was oil that was used in the tabernacle lampstand that burned continually.  There was oil that was used in anointing and setting apart certain instruments and tools for priestly service.  There was the vision of the oil-filled lampstand to Zechariah to which God proclaimed that His work was not to be done by man’s power, but by His Spirit (Zech 4:6).  With all that in mind, it seems that Jesus is at least alluding to the idea that the two groups are separated (in part) by their participation in the Holy Spirit.  One group has oil, while the other does not.
  3. Although He doesn’t get much attention, the Holy Spirit does much in the life of a believer.  Prior to our conversion, He is the One to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn 16:8).  In our conversion, He is the One that gives us our new birth.  In our new birth, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13), He indwells us (Jn 20:22), and He is our spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15) and guarantee of everlasting life (2 Cor 1:22).  As believers in Christ, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in groanings which cannot be uttered (Rom 8:26), empowers us to be witnesses for Jesus (Acts 1:8), teaches us through the Scriptures (1 Jn 2:27), and gifts us to build up the church and glorify God (1 Cor 12:11).  He is not merely a “force,” but He is an equal Person of the Triune Godhead, so we describe the Trinity as God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.  Not One is less God than the other, and Each is absolutely fully God.  Without the Holy Spirit, a person simply cannot be considered a Christian because he/she has not partaken of the Living God.  With all that in mind, the contrast of oil in the parable becomes extremely important.

5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.

  1. Please note they all engaged in the same thing.  Sleeping wasn’t a problem – it was just the way they waited until the coming of the bridegroom.  (Again, we don’t want to allegorize this, sleep is just part of the story here.)  Everyone slept, everyone heard the call in the middle of the night, and everyone got up to get ready by trimming their lamps (preparing the wicks/rags to be lit).  All of this is absolutely the same, and no distinction is made between either group at this point.  Up until the moment of lighting their lamps, the two groups of women would have looked to be identical to one another.
    1. So it is with so often with false converts.  Today, people come to church because that is what they’ve always done, or because that is what their friends do.  They sit, sing, have coffee & do everything else that born-again believers in Christ do.  They might even give financially and participate in service projects and Bible studies.  And although true Christians engage in all of those things, none of those things are what makes a person a true Christian.  What makes a person a Christian is the grace of Jesus Christ and the regeneration that comes through the Holy Spirit – and that only happens when a person humbly trusts Jesus as his/her Lord & Savior.  When a person comes to the realization of sin, forsakes it, and throws himself upon the mercy of Jesus, believing Him to be God who died at the cross & rose again – that’s when a person is saved because that is the moment the Holy Spirit comes into their life.  A person who has never believed upon Jesus has never experienced the work of the Holy Spirit, and thus has never been saved – no matter what other Christian activities he/she may have engaged in.
  2. Notice how Jesus continues to underscore the delay and sudden arrival of the character representing Himself.  Whether as the Master or as the Bridegroom, the character that represents Jesus seems to be away for a long time (to the point that people wonder if He is delayed), but comes with sudden glory and acclamation.  To date, Jesus has been gone for nearly 2000 years.  After He was crucified, resurrected, and ascended around 32-33 AD, He has been in heaven preparing a place for us, and awaiting the timing of God.  The rapture has not yet occurred, the Great Tribulation has not yet begun, and the 2nd Coming cannot even yet be expected.  As a result, some have thought that maybe Jesus isn’t coming at all.  Maybe it has all been myths and nice storytelling, but there’s not really anything to expect in the future.  Not so!  Jesus has not been held up or non-existent, but Jesus is waiting – and He has a purpose in doing so.  2 Peter 3:8–9, "(8) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (9) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." []  The reason Jesus delays is because He wants everyone possible to be saved!  We long for Jesus’ soon coming, and we await the rapture call at any time, but when He does not call it is only a reminder that there are more people who will yet be saved prior to that Day.  Jesus does not delay out of laziness or lack of ability, but out of love.  (Which means that if you are not yet saved, you still have an opportunity today!)  Jesus is loving in His delay, but He will not delay forever.  At one point He will come, and everyone will be aware of it – be it at the rapture when every believer is caught up, or at the 2nd Coming when every eye will see Him.
    1. Of course, the reality for every person is that our face-to-face meeting with our Creator is imminent.  Be it by the supernatural events Jesus refers to here, or by the natural cause of death – it can come at any moment.  We need to be ready!
    2. Too many people are unprepared!  Too many people come to church and put on the face of a Christian without truly surrendering themselves to Christ.  Too many people consider themselves “spiritual” without any real need for Jesus.  Those are people who are not ready to see their Creator – but we cannot afford to wait.  We do not know when that moment will come, but we know that it will come.  Don’t be foolish in a lack of preparation!

8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

  1. The moment came and the foolish understood their problem.  They did not have oil when it was most needed.  They each had a lamp, and it seemed to light for a moment, but there wasn’t enough there to keep burning.  It was not enough to walk along in the light of another person going to the wedding; they each needed to have their own lit lamp in order to be recognized as a legitimate guest.  They could not even obtain the oil from the other maidens; each one needed to have her own supply.  Their only hope was go to find a vendor at midnight (good luck!) and purchase some before the door was locked.  Apparently they went to go find some, and they lost their opportunity in the meantime.  Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t say that they ever acquired the oil – just that “they went to buy” it.  We cannot authoritatively speak where Jesus remains silent, but presumably they still had none by the time they came back to the house and found the door shut.
  2. Of course, the main point is this: they weren’t ready when the bridegroom came.  Whatever happened in the meantime is irrelevant.  When they needed to have oil, they had none & they missed the bridegroom completely as a result. 
  3. There is no substitute for the Holy Spirit, and thus there is no substitute for true faith.  Be it at the hour of the rapture or the hour of Jesus’ 2nd Coming, when the moment arrives it will be too late to attempt to gin up faith.  The Holy Spirit cannot be shared from person to person, each must be indwelt by Him personally.  Right now, the opportunity is available to receive of Him freely for the asking – but there will be a moment that it is too late.  Don’t lose your opportunity!

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

  1. The foolish virgins finally come to the house after the events have already begun, and they cry out in desperation, but it is too late.  They even call out to the bridegroom as “Lord,” but it is not enough.  They knew who he was by name, but they showed that they did not know him relationally.  They did not know him enough to take the proper preparations for this night, and he responds to them in kind.  He says that he did not know them – without the oil, he did not (would not) recognize them as guests for the wedding.
  2. The cry that the foolish virgins give is very similar to an earlier teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew 7:21–23, "(21) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (22) Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ (23) And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" []  Like the foolish virgins, they had done all sorts of things that made them look like every other Christian.  The one thing they did not have was the most important thing: a real relationship with Jesus Christ.  They knew enough to call Him “Lord,” but He did not recognize them as belonging to Him.
    1. A relationship with Jesus simply cannot be faked.  To be sure, it is possible to maintain a show for everyone else – there are even pastors who put up a façade for their entire career.  But the truth cannot be hidden from Jesus.  When a person is not truly surrendered to Jesus, it’s known by both Jesus & the individual.
    2. If this is something that the Holy Spirit is bringing conviction to your heart about, you need to do something about it today!  Run to Jesus today, placing your trust and faith in Him!

13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

  1. Jesus ends the same way He began: watch!  Be forewarned that the Son of Man is coming!  For those who will be awaiting Him coming during the Great Tribulation, there is an assurance that He will come, but there is also a warning that they need to be diligent.  It will not be enough to be around the true Christians of that day, hoping that somehow their faith will rub off; they will need to be true believers themselves.  If they truly do look to Jesus and wait, they need to go beyond the externals & put all of their hope and faith in Christ, truly surrendering themselves to Him.
  2. Likewise for people today.  We do not know the hour that Jesus will raise the dead and rapture the Church.  We don’t even know the hour that we will die and come face to face with the Living God.  But we know that the hour is coming.  Watch!  Be ready!  Take advantage of the opportunity you have right now to prepare yourself to see your King.

Conclusion:
Three parables; one lesson: watch and be wise.  Be it the thief, the master of the house, or the bridegroom – each one came after a delay, and at an hour that was not expected.  Those who watched for the coming were prepared, but those who were not suffered.  Jesus IS coming, no matter how long the delay might seem to be.  Knowing that He is coming, we are to be wise with the time that we are given.

How are you using the time?  Can you be counted among the wise & thoughtful?  There are so many people who never give eternity a second thought.  How tragically foolish!  The few decades we spend upon the earth now are nothing in comparison to the eternity that we will spend later in heaven or hell.  God gives us this opportunity now to get ready & to know Christ – don’t waste it!  Take an inventory of yourself to see if you truly know Jesus, if you’ve been indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  If you are not in Christ, this is your opportunity – don’t waste it!  Repent from your sin, and be saved today.

If you are a born-again believer in Christ, then you (and I) also need to be wise as we wait for Christ.  After all, we’re called to be watchful & ready.  If He called, would you be ready to see Jesus today?  Would there be some sin in your life that you should have repented of?  Would there be some area of your life of which you would be ashamed?  Would you be found careless and wasteful?  Christian, our sins are forgiven in Christ (praise the Lord!), but we are still to be wise with the time that we’ve been given.  Ensure you’re ready every day!

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