Are you prepared? Matthew 25:1-13 is a story about being ready to cope with what is ahead in life. Last week’s story about being judged for not being proactive with what we have been given, leads onto this week’s story about being prepared. While some interpret this story as looking to end times, it is a story very much about living our lives and following Jesus here and now.
Jesus uses this parable of the lamps and the bridesmaids to teach the disciples the importance of being prepared. In the story the bridesmaids were responsible for keeping their lamps ready for when the bridegroom returns. The ten bridesmaids had one job to do, it was to keep the lamp lit until the bridegroom arrived. To do that they had to make sure that they had enough oil to fuel their lamps. Five of them were prepared with enough oil to keep their lamps burning. The other five were unprepared.
Jesus wanted his disciples to be prepared, ready for whenever God’s reign comes, ready to attend to the gift of the Spirit that God gives each of us, and ready to care for those around us and God’s world. In the parable it becomes clear that the five bridesmaids who didn’t check their oil before they went to wait for the bridegroom were unprepared. They took a chance that the bridegroom might arrive early. Naively hopeful, they were caught short, and their lamps went out because they didn’t bring enough oil.
Lamps need oil to keep them working. Jesus points to us as bridesmaids in the story. Some are prepared with a stock of oil, others forget, are distracted, too busy, too tired or for whatever reason are not prepared for the bridegroom’s return. This is a story about us, we are the bridesmaids and Jesus is the bridegroom. We are the bearers of the light of Christ. This is not something we do once, or merely occasionally, it is something we are called to be for our whole life. It is something that needs to be sustained through prayer, time with God and Bible reading, and in worship. We bear the light of Christ in our being, in our actions, by acting justly, and in how we love and serve others