Nowhere in my Bible is there such a splash of red ink than in Matthew 21 to 25. Jesus has entered Jerusalem and has some poignant things to say before he departs. It is as though the valve has popped and His heart gushes out;

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Matthew 23:37 NAS

Most of His words are in the form of parables spoken in front of his disciples to the officials of the Jewish nation. The punch lines alone are worth a review;

Parable of the Two Sons; Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him. Matthew 21:31-32 NAS

Parable of the Landowner; Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” Matthew 21:43-44 NAS

Parable of the Marriage FeatThen the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  For many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:13-14 NAS

I have not even mentioned the blistering Seven Woes he spoke to the Pharisees.

Can you imagine what his disciples were thinking? For eleven of them it was; “If Jesus is not quickly crowned king, we are toast!” For the remaining one it was; “Ok, it is probably time to cash in my chips.”

As all Jews were, they were deeply impressed with the Temple – the awe inspiring centerpiece of Jewish culture. When they pointed it out to Jesus, his tone become apocalyptic. He tells them;

Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down. Matthew 24:2 NAS

He tells them (in light of this demolition) to be ready and he hammers it home with two more famous parables and a short sermon. The punch lines here are no less ominous than the previous ones;

The Parable of the TalentsFor to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.  Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 25:29-30 NAS

The Judgement DiscourseTruly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:45-46 NAS

Then there is our passage where Jesus is telling a pointed story about 10 girls. Who were these girls? Let’s look at the Parable of the Ten Virgins together;

Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him. Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’  And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’  But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:1-13 NAS

We are all on a journey where we will ultimately meet our maker. The great question is “When we arrive, will He turn out to be our Father or our Judge?” In that popular Jewish style of writing which contrasted the wise and the foolish, Jesus is once again saying to all men, “You must not be asleep at the wheel! Every mile of your journey is essential to the destination, which may appear before you with no warning.” In the form of wisdom writing and story telling, Jesus is saying, “Truly, truly, today is the day of salvation.” To think otherwise is folly.”

This reality seems to provoke 3 different responses. The first, is the saddest. It is deafness. Some do not hear because they do not want to hear. They have chosen their route. That it is their route is enough for them even though the bridge is out. In the context of our parable, their lamps have run out of oil.

A second response is a both-hands-on-the-wheel, white knuckle approach – Our foe doth seek to work us woe and given our natural depravity, we might cross the center line at any moment and, like a fool, crash headlong into some hell of our own making. This traveler will likely arrive but he has burned his oil very inneficiently, dependent as he was on his fretting vows of righteousness and his vigils in keeping them. He sees himself as God’s slave and he must labor to please his Master.

A third response and the one I believe Jesus is after is simply keeping our lamps full by keeping company with Him. This is the narrow path. On this route we are not just servants hide bound to do his will. On this route He becomes our Father and our Friend. We do his bidding because we love Him, which is God’s end game. Knowing and loving God is where our story began. That is also where it will end. On the narrow path our hands are on the wheel, but only lightly; our choices are still involved but they are not driven by fear. Equipped with the knowledge that Father is in charge, that He is training us as we go, that mistakes will be made and that we may even become sleepy, we can be at rest. Our lamps are filled knowing that He Himself is our origin, our fuel and our destination. Jesus is our all-in-all. With our hearts, operative in this revelation, in a real sense, we have already arrived.

If you can pause your heart for 3 more minutes, check out Maranatha’s You Tube “Now Unto Him”
























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