"Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet Him!" (Matthew 25:6)
It is exciting to be invited to a wedding! Matthew 25 tells about a wedding that we have all been invited to! When we read the scripture passage about this wedding we need to remember that in this passage, we who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour are the Bride, and Jesus Himself is the Bridegroom! One day, Jesus is coming back to this earth and this world will come to an end. Those who belong to Him will go to be with Him forever.
This parable was given by Jesus to remind us to be ready for His coming. We need to realise that the weddings Jesus was referring to were very different than our wedding ceremonies. The Jewish wedding of Jesus' day was an event lasting several days. The betrothal (similar to engagement) of the bride and groom may have lasted several years - much more formal and involved than our engagements.
When at last the wedding was to be held, the bridal procession began from the home of the bride to the home of the bridegroom. Gifts for the bride were usually carried in front of the bridal party as it wound through the streets at night. The bride herself would either ride an animal, or be carried on a sedan chair, or simply walk, with a beautiful canopy over her. Going before her were musicians and sometimes other entertainment. The bride was dressed beautifully, with her hair flowing loosely. Her maidens attended her and helped her prepare for the groom. This procession was made up of men and women, some from among her own circle of friends and some from her family. When the bride arrived at the groom's house, the women of his household and the invited guests met her with songs and censers of burning incense and took her into the best room in the house, decorated as the bridal chamber.
The groom himself was not at the house when the bride arrived. He purposely stayed away and spent the time at the house of one of his relatives, where he ate a meal. He and his party then dressed themselves properly for the occasion and had time together before going to his own house where the bride had already been received. This procession was usually made between 11 pm and midnight. Special bearers held aloft flaming torches, and the procession swept slowly along to the groom's house.
Great crowds often assembled on the balconies, on the garden walls, and on the flat roofs of the houses on each side of the road to watch to impressive spectacle. The bridegroom was the centre of the special interest, and whispering voices were often heard saying, "Look! There he is!"
As they travelled along, women raised their voices in a special shrill cry that expressed joy at marriages and at other times of family and public rejoicing. As the procession approached the bridegroom's own house, the pace was quickened and the cry was raised with louder voices: "He is coming, He is coming!" Just prior to his arrival, the bride's maidens-in-waiting came out a short distance with lamps and candles to meet the procession and to light up the entrance as the groom's party approached the house.
Once the bride and groom were together in his home, they were seated together under a brilliantly decorated canopy, and a great feast began, and this usually lasted from three to seven days, with the festivities on the last day more elaborate and elegant.
At some weddings, when the bridegroom's party entered his house to celebrate the marriage, the doors were promptly closed and no others were allowed to enter after that. And, in some instances, the groom's family provided special wedding clothes for all guests, and these had to be worn. These customs throw much light on the parable of the wedding here in Matthew 25.
Before Jesus left this world, He told us He would be coming back. In John 14:3, it records His words to all who follow Him: "If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also."
Be ready - by being prepared! Why didn't all of the girls in the parable have enough oil? They knew the wedding was on. Did they think they could get by with using oil from their friends' containers? Oil is often used as symbolic of the Holy Spirit. We cannot expect someone else's experience to get us into Heaven. We must be personally ready to meet Jesus. Sometimes people think that their wife's, or husband's, or parent's faith can save them. (They might say, "I had a good Christian mother and that's enough religion for me..." Or, "My wife is the religious one around here.")
Let me ask this question: If you are going to a football game or a concert, does your single ticket cover your mate? No - you have to have your own. It is the same when it comes to being ready to meet the Lord. We must have our own personal relationship to Jesus Christ. The difference is - He paid for the "ticket" so to speak - by His death on the cross. All we have to do is ask Him for it!
There are those who would like to rob us of our experience with the Lord. Many times people try to pull us down to their level of living. They want you to give up serving the Lord. In this parable the five foolish girls wanted the five wise girls to give them some of their oil. The wise girls told them they had to have their own oil. Because the five foolish girls were not ready they missed out on being with the Bridegroom. They had plenty of opportunity to get ready, as they knew that the bridegroom was coming. But they thought they could "scrape in" at the last minute. They started out with oil, but they let it get depleted. Some people start out following the Lord, but they let other people or things become more important than the Lord.
Satan works very hard at getting us to procrastinate - to put off doing something about the state of our soul. Are you ready to meet the Lord right now? Have you started to slacken off in your preparation for Him? Do you have the "oil" of His presence in your life? Do you talk to him in prayer? What Bride doesn't talk with her bridegroom? What Bride doesn't listen to her bridegroom? Are you listening to the Lord speaking to you in your heart? Are you hearing from Him by reading His word? What bride doesn't keep herself beautiful and pure for her bridegroom? Are you keeping your life pure for the Lord - the Bridegroom? Are you excited about your life together as a bride and bridegroom are?
If your love has slackened off - open the communication lines between you and the Saviour today.
In the Christian video series called "Life on the Edge" there was a two word reminder given to the viewer - remember to "Be there".
One day this world will be over. It will not go on forever. Some teach that life is an endless cycle. But - No! - Rather it is like a straight line: There was a definite moment of creation and there will be a definite end! Life here on earth will not go on and on. Jesus is coming back again and His Word says that when He comes, "every eye shall see Him and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."
The most important decision we can ever make in our life is the decision to be there - in Heaven, with the Lord Jesus Christ and all those who love Him.
How can we be ready, beware and be there? Matthew 25 continues on to give us the Parable of the Talents. In this parable we are reminded that we have all been treated fairly. God sent His one and only Son to die on the cross that "whoever" believes on Him shall be saved. He gives each of us opportunity to know Him. We are to use all He has given us to the best of our ability. He will reward us according to our faithfulness to Him. He gives fair and equal rewards. And, He will punish those who are unfaithful (with everlasting separation from Him and everlasting punishment in Hell).
Have you ever been to a Christian wedding, and came away thinking - Wow, that was wonderful, they are a lovely couple and it was a great occasion. Or, have you known a Christian couple that have had many years of happy marriage and have served the Lord together and you've seen how God has helped them in many ways over the years? Those couples did not know all that was in store for them when they committed their lives to one another. But, day-by-day they have had the Lord's presence in their lives and been a blessing to the world. We too, will find if we follow the Lord with all our heart - He has great blessings to bring in our lives. Serving Him is a joy, because He gives us His joy and presence every moment of every day, no matter what the circumstances may be.
We must be ready for the Lord's return, we need to beware of cooling off in our love for Him, and we need remember that the most important thing we can ever do is to be there with Him in Heaven eternally.
I heard about a wedding where people got so preoccupied with the details of the wedding that they nearly didn't make it to the ceremony! That can happen with us spiritually, too. Don't be so caught up in the details of when and how Jesus will return - that you miss the whole point - of being there!
Will you be there?
Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.
Holiness, godliness, righteousness, and Christ-likeness in personal and church life