Sunday, March 19, 2023

Posted on Mar 17 2023

Bible Background: Matthew is the only gospel that records this parable. He seems more interested in the final judgement than Mark or Luke. This parable is about expecting Christ’s return, and Christ’s return bringing judgement. To Matthew’s audience, Christ’s return was greatly delayed. Waiting was hard. It usually is! Waiting with anticipation and expectation is an act of faith. What we do while we wait, is also an act of faith!

Going Deeper: Biblical Scholar, Pastor, and Author, Eugene Peterson once suggested that parables are narrative time-bombs. These simple-looking stories lodged inside people’s hearts and imaginations, slowly tick-tick-ticking away until finally, BOOM, they exploded into a new awareness when the real meaning behind Jesus’ unpretentious stories about farmers and seeds and sheep and bread-making finally sunk in.” This may be one of those parables!

1. Sometimes it helps to ask “what bothers me about this text?” Maybe several things! It’s not the bridesmaids’ fault that the groom is delayed! Why do those who don’t share their extra oil get ‘rewarded’? Is Jesus the bridegroom? If so, would he really shut the door on the group that ran out of oil?

2. Jesus’ coming is both judgement and deliverance, and that is true as Jesus comes to us each day of our lives! How are you open to and eager for the presence of Jesus each day?

3. If this parable does function as kind of a “time-bomb”, when in life have you been one of the wise/prepared ones? When have you been one of the foolish/unprepared ones?

4. “Keeping awake” is not so easy! All the bridesmaids fall asleep. Later in Matthew in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus tells the disciples to “keep awake”. None of them can! Sometimes we may feel like we’re being asked to do the impossible. Can we also remember how scripture reminds us that “all things are possible for God?”

5. If we agree that many kinds of waiting can be hard, then these are good questions for faith: What can we do while we wait? What are we waiting for/looking for? How can we encourage one another? (Hebrews 10:25) Who needs our support while they are waiting? How does God sustain us while we wait? How shall we rely on scripture and prayer while we wait?

Next week’s Narrative Lectionary reading is Matthew 25:31-46