Devotional Thoughts on Matthew 25:1-13
March 9-15, 2015
Monday, March 9, 2015
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom” (Matthew 25:1).
James was on the hunt. He had recently graduated magna cum laude from a well-known college. Armed with his degree, he was looking for a job. The notches of seven job interviews adorned his job hunters belt, but he had not landed a job. The interviews had gone well, but he lacked one thing—experience. Employers wanted experienced personnel. “But how can you get experience,” James complained, “If they won’t hire you to work and get experience?”
The main characters of this parable are bridesmaids. In some translations the word “virgin” is used. Jesus and Matthew place an emphasis on the innocence and inexperience of the girls. We may be old and wise or knowledgeable in the ways of the world. We may have even walked a long way on the path of faith. Still, we don’t know a great deal when it comes to the ways of the Lord. Like James and the bridesmaids, we are innocent and inexperienced.
A situation such as ours is not bad—it just is. The key is to admit that we still have a lot to learn and to be aware of and be open to the learning opportunities that come our way each day. The goal of our on-the-job training is not to become know-it-alls, but rather to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
O Patient Teacher, Don’t give up on us when we struggle to learn the difficult lessons of life. Enable us to learn and to grow as your disciples and servants. Amen.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
“When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them” (Matthew 25:3).
Travel is increasingly popular and most of us have become seasoned travelers. Few of us (if any) have avoided the situation of forgetting to pack a needed item for a trip. The item was usually small but vital: a belt, a pair of socks, a tube of toothpaste or our report for the presentation we were going to make. We’re not too different from the bridesmaids who forgot to take oil for their lamps.
Accommodations have been made for the forgetful traveler. Hotels have small tubes of toothpaste and disposable shavers for their patrons, or there is usually a Target or Wal-Mart nearby. Thankfully our forgotten presentation materials can now be faxed, emailed, or delivered overnight. The young bridesmaids were not as fortunate as we are.
This parable causes us distress because the fate of the foolish young bridesmaids is not what we have experienced in our lives as servants and disciples. Jesus and Matthew might have wanted to emphasize a point. We know, though, that the Lord has never expected us to know it all, have it all or do it all. When we are weak, then God is our strength. When we have nothing, then God provides. Life can be harsh, but God is gracious.
Certainly, we need to be prepared as we face the new day and as we wait for the coming of the Lord. We can be thankful, though, that in real life when our lights flicker and are near going out God provides us oil to keep our lights burning.
God of Provision, We give you thanks and praise that you walk with us through life and provide us with what we need to overcome the obstacles that we encounter. Amen.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
“But the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps” (Matthew 25:4).
A few of the young bridesmaids took oil for their lamps. They were prepared, and their example is an important one. As we live, serve and wait for the coming of the Lord it is important that we are prepared. With what do we need to be prepared, though?
Obviously, we don’t need oil for lamps—that won’t help get us through the day. Many prepare themselves for the day by reading the Bible, prayer and meditation. Others prepare themselves through small group Bible studies or support and accountability groups. The list of ways we can be prepared is long and we cannot accomplish all that the list contains. We can however learn what we need to best prepare ourselves to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the coming day.
We enter our days prepared. At the same time we remind ourselves that we do not face life alone. The Holy Spirit guides, strengthens, inspires and shapes us. Our faith is not placed in the level of our preparations, but in the faithfulness and steadfast love of our Lord.
Faithful Lord, We are prepared to serve you. Use us to your glory. Amen.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
“As the bridegroom was delayed” (Matthew 25:5).
Most of the time the bridegroom’s delay is seen as an inconvenience. Instead it might be viewed as an opportunity. During the delay a person can become better prepared and learn how to be more vigilant. We don’t need to make the excuse that we can’t do it because there is not enough time.
Look around and ask yourself “What needs to be done?” Is there someone who needs a smile and a word of encouragement? Does the food bank need food, or the homeless shelter need water to distribute to their clientele?
We do not know when Jesus will return. We do know that there is work to be done in the meantime. So, let’s get to work!
Loving Lord, As we wait for your coming, enable us to share the blessings that you have poured into our lives. Amen.
Friday, March 13, 2015
“All of them became drowsy and slept”
Watching and waiting are difficult. It’s boring. The young bridesmaids found this out. Both the wise and the foolish fell asleep while they waited for the bridegroom to appear.
The military realize how difficult it is to stay on guard. Guards are relieved regularly. In the Navy watches are changed on a regular schedule. It is impossible to wait alone.
The lesson to be learned is to wait with others. The bridesmaids did this. While they slept, someone else watched and sounded the alarm when the bridegroom appeared. We wait with our brothers and sisters, in Christ. They keep us from becoming complacent and comfortable. They remind us of Jesus exhortations to be prepared and to stay alert. When we get tired and sleep, they watch for us, just as we do for them. Keep awake! When you can’t, make sure you’re with others who can.
Holy Trinity, Thank you for the gift of relationships and for people of faith who wait with us for Jesus’ return. Amen.
Saturday, March 14, 2015
“But the wise replied, ‘No! There will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves” (Matthew 25:9).
At this point, he parable seems to contradict what we learned in Sunday School. There is no sharing or looking out for one another. It seems that the motto at that point in time was, “Every bridesmaid for herself!”
Perhaps Jesus and Matthew did this for a purpose. Though it is vitally important that we are part of a group, there is also the need to be individually responsible. Each of us is to be prepared. Every one of us is to be responsible and alert for the coming of the Lord.
The group is only as good as its individual members. The Christian church can only be as prepared as the believers are in its fellowship. If we want the Church to be better, than we must strive to be better ourselves. The bridegroom is coming and we want to be prepared for his arrival.
Holy Parent, You have adopted us into your family. May we so live our lives in preparation that our lives give you and your family honor. Amen.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).
A few years ago signs appeared around the nation announcing that Jesus was returning on May 21st. On May 22nd it was announced that a miscalculation had been made and that Jesus was coming in October. We’re still waiting. It seems that the only people who are concerned about the coming of the Lord are those who write books and make a great amount of money predicting when Jesus is going to return. If we don’t want to be like them, then how do we keep awake and alert?
Since we don’t know when Jesus will return, it seems that Jesus is encouraging his followers to “carpe diem,” “seize the day.” When Martin Luther was asked what he would do if he knew Jesus’ return was near, he said he’d plant a tree. In other words, he’d go about doing what he always did. Perhaps to keep awake means to constantly be aware of the needs of others. Alert to injustice, we stand beside and care for the exploited. We feed the hungry, care for the sick, give thanks for the gift of life and share the good news of God’s love and grace.
Yes, we can sell all of our possessions and climb up a mountain to wait for the Lord’s coming, but there are better ways to be prepared.
Gracious God, As we wait for your return, empower us so that we love as you have loved us, share as you have shared with us and minister to others as you have ministered to our needs. Amen.