Matthew 25:1-13 says, "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
In Matthew 25, Jesus is giving a discourse about what the world will look like when He shall return. In Matthew 24, Jesus just makes the prophesy about the destruction of the Jerusalem temple destruction as well as the destruction of His body (24:1-2). His disciples come to Him while they are on the Mount of Olives and ask Him what exactly He meant by the destruction and inquire to when those things will happen (24:3). From verse five of Matthew 24 through the end of Matthew 25 Jesus explains, using parables and other devices, the the return of Christ and the end of the age that the Jews expected with the inauguration of Christ's earthly ministry.
The message of this particular parable is quite clear: "watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (25:13). As this conclusion is stated, the parable should be understood with this end in mind. Here, there is a parable that resembles a Jewish engagement and wedding ceremony. This may seem like a strange custom, as we today set a date for weddings shortly after the engagement. The Jewish custom was not so. When the young man would "propose" to the young woman and she accepted, he would travel back to his father's house and build on an extension where they would live after the wedding. This period between the wedding and the engagement had no set timeline; the soon-to-be bride understood that she had to be ready for her soon-to-be husband to return and commence the ceremony. Just as the bride had to be ready, so her assistants ("virgins") had to be perpetually ready.
In this parable, we do not resemble the bride nor the groom; we are more akin to the virgins, or assistants. Just as there were foolish virgins who were not ready and wise virgins who were ready, so today there are two types of believers: those who are ready for the groom to return and those who are not ready for the return of the groom. As Christ is the groom, He could make His glorious return any moment and commence the majestic celebration of the union between Christ and the church.
Are you ready for Christ to return? If you are unsaved, you are certainly not ready for the return of the Lord, but even if you are saved, that does not mean that your life is ready for Christ's return. Jesus' physical and literal return to earth to rapture His body is a nonnegotiable for the Christian faith. He will return and His people will either be excited and ready or His people will be embarrassed to find the condition of their sinful lives at the return of their Master.
Have you ever had someone visit your house unexpectedly? When they come in you might be frantic and try to tidy up even as they are there. Maybe there were things out that embarrassed you when other people saw them. What if Jesus came to your house? Obviously it is metaphorical, but would you be caught embarrassed and have to frantically run around trying to hide things?
Douglas MacArthur was a brilliant and valiant military commander for the United States during World War II and the Korean War. On March 11, 1942, while the United States was fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, MacArthur received orders that he would be pulled out of the war. The United States valued MacArthur too much to let him parish in an unfavorable battle in the Pacific. Being very disappointed to have to leave his troops, MacArthur issued a promise to the people of Philippines: "I shall return." His troops and the Philippines were left waiting for the promise of the general. On October 20, 1944, MacArthur returned to the Philippines to a third of the men and Philippines he was forced to abandon two years earlier. After arriving, MacArthur shouted, "people of the Philippines, I have returned! I'm a little late... but we finally came."
Just as MacArthur made good on his promised return, so Christ will. As believers, you and I, according to Jesus (25:13), need to be ready and waiting for that day. Are you ready for Christ to come back or do you need to get your house in order?
GOD’S MAN CHALLENGE
"Although you don't know when it will happen, you need to be ready for Christ to return!"
GOD’S MAN PRAYER
Lord, I know You are going to return just as You said You will. Help me to live a life to which would make You proud and pleased to return. Amen.