Read Matthew 25:1-13
When our son got married a few years ago, I learned some of the modern rules of pre-wedding etiquette. Roughly six months before the wedding, the happy couple sends out “save the date” announcements to their anticipated guests. This helps to ensure that people place the wedding date on their calendar soon enough to prevent scheduling conflicts. Roughly two months before the wedding, formal invitations with date, time, and location are then sent. For the bride, groom, wedding party, and guests, there is a double reminder about the precise details about the coming ceremony.
Weddings in first century Israel were different. First of all, there was a formal engagement that was nearly as binding as marriage itself. Still, there was an uncertain amount of time between the engagement and the wedding. During that time, the groom prepared the couple’s future home. When preparations had been made, and sometimes unannounced, the groom would then come for the bride. The wedding party would follow and the ceremony would take place.
Some of those thoughts are key to understanding the parable you read today. Weddings were not as predictable with regard to date and time as they are today. The groom could come at any time, and the bridesmaids had to be ready.
Of course, parables are everyday stories with everlasting implications. Like the groom in the parable, Jesus will one day return. (By the way, there are two aspects to His return that are separated by roughly seven years. The first is an event referred to as the “rapture of the church.” See 1 Thess. 4:13-18. The second aspect of His return is often referred to as the “revelation of Jesus.” See Revelation 19:11-21.) The timing of the return is uncertain. Jesus makes that abundantly clear. (Matt. 24:36, 42, 44). It is imminent. It is just as probable today as it ever has been or as it will be a month from now.
In view of the fact that it could be today, each of us must ask the question: “Am I, like the wise bridesmaids, ready for His return?” Have you responded to Christ’s offer of salvation? Are you living in anticipation of His return?