A Time To Wait
Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Matthew 25:1 – 13
Advent is a time when we remember Jesus’ first coming. It is a familiar story to many of us. It is a true story for all of us. But it isn’t the end of the story for any of us because Jesus hasn’t come back. So, we live longing for a breakthrough from heaven. For Jesus to finish what he started. For our king to give us the kingdom he has promised. Simply put, we are people in waiting.
Jesus’ parable about the ten virgins reveals this reality. The parable begins with a sense of excitement about what is just around the corner. The bridegroom is coming. Everyone is supercharged with eagerness. But then the waiting sets in. The bridegroom doesn’t come when expected. The night presses in and the virgins fall asleep.
This helps us to see that continual alertness is not what Jesus requires. No one can stay at a fever pitch of waiting forever. All of us get tired. So what does Jesus require? The wise virgins knew that the wait might last, so they brought enough oil for the long haul.
Having enough oil is a metaphor for remaining confident in God’s promises throughout all seasons of life. It is living with faith while we walk through the valley of death. And faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not yet seen. In other words, having enough oil is going through life all the way to our final breath, still whispering to our soul, “Jesus is Lord. Jesus is coming. This, too, he will someday set right.”
Jesus’ first coming reminds us that we are not alone in our waiting because, on that first Christmas, there were many who waited for God to keep his promises to them. Then one day it happened. A Savior was born, and their faith became sight.
During this first week of Advent, I want us to journey with a few of these men and women who waited well for Jesus to come, so that we learn how to wait with enough oil until Jesus returns or takes us home.