Read Matthew 25
Long ago and far away, I used to fly from Orlando, Florida to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on a regular basis. Nothing outside of North Carolina goes to the Albert J. Ellis Airport that services Camp Lejeune with it’s one or two flights every day.
The pilots that serviced that airport always chuckled when they started to taxi, “Looks like we are first in line for takeoff.” Of course, we were first in line. We were the only aircraft in line.
All of that to bring us to this point. I spent a lot of time in the airport in Charlotte. My layovers were longer than both of my flights. I always flew in civies. I didn’t care to get my service uniform splashed as the drink cart went by.
One day In Charlotte Douglas Airport, I was at the food court getting lunch when one of the girls behind the counter said, “You work here right?”
I said, “No, I just spend a lot of time here between flights.”
She said, “That’s OK. It’s like you work here so we will give you the employee discount.”
It’s nice when they know you. It’s like being Norm on Cheers. It’s nice when everybody knows your name.
The parable begins At that time… What time?
What preceded was the short course on eschatology. What time? It’s the end of the age and this is a parable, so Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to 10 girls waiting on the wedding party to come. Weddings were big deals.
They did not take place at an exact time. Waiting was involved and we are told that the bridegroom was a long time in coming. These girls were waiting well into the night. It was midnight before anything started to happen.
And the cry came that the bridegroom was on the way. The girls awoke and trimmed the wicks but 5 of them had run out of oil. The other 5 brought oil enough for the entire night.
The unprepared asked for oil from those who came prepared. They said no. That seems mean but we should consider the first words of this parable: At that time. What time? It’s the end of the age.
The end of the age will be a come as you are affair. You knew to be ready. You either were or were not.
All the way up to this point, there had been plenty of time to get more oil, or if we see that this is about more than oil, then there was plenty of time to get ready for the coming of our Lord.
Those who had oil trimmed their wicks and their light shone brightly. The others saw their light going out and there was nothing they could do about it. Sure, they could leave to buy more oil, but they had waited too long.
They waited too long. They were only prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival if it was convenient. We might say their seed did not take root in good soil.
What did I ask you to take home last week?
Do not be alarmed.
Do not be deceived.
The girls who ran out of oil were not ready. They had been deceived—by their own thoughts and human nature—that they would not need to be ready for more that a few hours. Now they were alarmed.
What could they do?
They went to get more oil but we know how that came out. There were no timeouts here to get resupplied.
There is something that is not written here but relates to the previous chapter. How do you think the 5 who ran out of oil thought about those who were ready?
I am sure that they hated them. If there had been more time, they might have persecuted those who came with extra oil, but the time for the bridegroom’s arrival had come. Time to persecute those who were ready had come to an end.
The 5 who needed oil did make a desperate attempt to refuel.
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
For those who believe, think of being persecuted. You are hated. You might be physically abused. You might get nailed to a cross. You might be separated from your family. Your possessions might be stripped from you. You might be strapped to a chair and forced to watch The View. You might be imprisoned, and in these days of persecution don’t expect prison to be the luxury housing facilities that we see today in this country.
Those seem harsh and they are but here is something worse. It is to hear your Master say, I don’t know you.
I don’t know you.
But I have 2 forms of ID.
They let me cash a check anywhere I go.
I can rent a car or book a flight or buy stuff with one click.
The world knows me! The whole world knows me. Nobody has to ask me, what’s in my wallet?
I am connected to this world in so many ways. I have 4500 Facebook friends and 1200 Linked In connections. I have premier status on 3 airlines. I know everybody. Everybody knows me.
But, does your Master know you?
Are you ready for his return?
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Which brings us to the United States Coast Guard for your weekly nugget to chew on. What is the motto of the Coast Guard?
It means always ready.
We are charged to be always ready for the return of our Lord. Be ready.