This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
November 6, 2011 Amos 5:18-24 Matthew 25:1-13 'Where`s the Oil?¨
Dr. Ted H. Sandberg
When I went oII to college, I didn`t know what I wanted to do in liIe. I thought maybe I wanted to
major in Chemistry, but that idea didn`t last longer than my Iirst class in chemistry. Because I was
interested in a number oI diIIerent areas, I took classes in a number oI diIIerent Iields, and tried not to
narrow my options until it was absolutely, positively necessary to do so. I wanted to keep my choices
as broad as possible Ior as long as possible. Eventually, however, I was Iorced to decide, Iorced to
narrow my interests, Iorced to make my choice about what I was going to major in which in turn
helped me understand God`s call Ior me to enter the ministry.
So it goes Ior all oI us. LiIe is Iilled with choices. We can`t get away Irom them even iI we wanted
to. Some choices are almost trivial what do I want Ior breakIast? Should I wear black or brown this
morning? Should we eat at McDonald`s, or Applebees? Which oI the thousands oI DVD`s available,
should I rent this evening? Other choices are more diIIicult. Do I want to change jobs? Should I
retire now or later? What can I do to help my aging parents, or my children, or grandchildren? What
do I want to do with the rest oI my liIe? Am I prepared Ior Christ`s return?
The ten bridesmaids, or literally virgins, in the parable we`ve read this morning all had choices to
make, choices which at the time may have seemed unimportant to them, but choices which made a
diIIerence in at least their opportunity to celebrate at this particular wedding banquet. 5 maidens chose
to think about how best to prepare iI the bridegroom was delayed. 5 maidens chose to do something
BeIore we get to what I think is at the heart oI this parable, I can`t help but reIlect with you on one
question that has always Iascinated me in this parable. Why didn`t one oI the 5 maidens who hadn`t
brought extra oil go and get some in the aIternoon? Have you ever wondered that? Why didn`t the 5
Ioolish maidens see the extra oil that the 5 wise maidens carried, and send one oI their number to get
more oil in case the bridegroom came at night?
This isn`t the main point oI the parable, but I believe it does reIlect human nature. Why didn`t they go
Ior more oil, especially when their lamps were getting low? It could be, I suppose, that the 5 Ioolish
maidens weren`t only Ioolish, but not very smart either. Maybe they just didn`t think about extra oil.
My guess is, however, that we don`t call them Ioolish because they lacked intelligence, but because
they acted Ioolishly by thinking too much oI themselves.
II, in the excitement oI the wedding preparations, these 5 maidens Iorgot to bring extra oil Ior their
lamps, which oI the 5 was going to go out and buy the extra oil? The bridegroom could come along at
literally any minute. He certainly wouldn`t wait Ior one oI the maidens who was oII buying lamp oil
in the middle oI the night. Can you imagine the 5 maidens arguing about which oI them was going to
go to the merchant and risk missing the banquet when, aIter all, there was no prooI that the
bridegroom was going to come at night? Perhaps none oI the 5 was willing to take the chance oI being
absent when the bridegroom arrived, so none oI the 5 went to the merchant Ior oil.
People do that today, don`t they? They get so caught up in not being leIt out that they aren`t willing to
think about anyone else. Occasionally a basketball team goes through something like this. Usually, a
team needs to pass the ball between players a number oI times in order to work a player Iree Ior a good
shot. Sometimes though, the players aren`t willing to pass the ball. They want to score the points
themselves. When that happens, when no one is willing to pass the ball because they each want to
shoot and score, the whole team suIIers, and usually loses, just like the 5 maidens all lost out in the
end because they chose not to put aside their own desire and be willing to risk sacriIicing Ior the
As I`ve already said, however, this isn`t the main point oI the parable. Jesus tells us the point in the
13th verse: 'Keep awake thereIore, Ior you know neither the day nor the hour.¨ Actually, this 13th
verse summarizes not only the parable oI the wise and Ioolish maidens, but summarizes the whole
24th chapter oI Matthew. There, in verse three, the Iollowers oI Jesus posed a question: 'Tell us,
when will this be, and what will be the sign oI your coming and oI the end oI the age?¨
The Iollowers oI Jesus wanted to know when God is going to put an end to human history. When will
Jesus, who had repeatedly taught that he`s about to leave them, return to claim his Iollowers to himselI
and usher in the Iinal age oI the kingdom oI God? Jesus` Iollowers, both those who were alive when
Jesus was alive, and those oI all generations who`ve been longing Ior His Second Coming, all oI us
want to know when Jesus is going to return. Jesus answers all oI us with the parable which basically
says, 'It could happen anytime today, tomorrow, in a thousand years.¨ For those who want a date so
they can make plans perhaps plans to repent oI their sins the day beIore it happens there`s no
biblical answer to the question oI when. No one knows, no one can predict, certainly not Harold
Camping. This is one instance where God reserves the prerogative to be God, and God`s just not
But iI Jesus doesn`t tell us when He`s returning, he does tell us to be ready. To put it in the language
oI the parable, Jesus warns us to keep plenty oI oil on hand. I thought oI 4 things that help me to be
ready Ior either Christ`s return, or my death which ever comes Iirst. Number one is giving myselI to
Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Without that decision, nothing else we do matters. We can live the
best oI lives, but iI we don`t know Jesus Christ personally, we`re like the noisy gong or clanging
cymbal oI which Paul speaks in a diIIerent context. The decision we make Ior or against Jesus Christ
is the most important decision we`ll make in our lives.
But to make the decision Ior Christ is like Iilling the lamp the Iirst time. It`s important, but there`s
more. OI nearly equal importance is to worship God as God`s people. Psalm 149 begins: 'Praise the
LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly oI the IaithIul.¨ Some claim they
can remain strong in their Iaith even iI they golI every Sunday morning when that`s their usual time oI
worship. I don`t believe they can. II we could remain strong in our Iaith without coming together to
praise God and give thanks to God, there wouldn`t be churches around today. The Iact that Jesus
established the church as His body speaks not only to His need Ior us to be his hands and Ieet, but it
speaks to our need to gather as God`s people to celebrate with joyIul hearts all that God has done Ior
Third, we prepare ourselves Ior the return oI Christ through our personal devotions to God. We
prepare ourselves by reading the Bible, praying to God daily, and studying with Iellow Christians. I
suspect that the 5 Ioolish maidens didn`t have any extra lamp oil because they were too engrossed in
their soap opera, or Iootball game, or music video to think about what they needed to do to be ready
Ior the bridegroom. They wanted to have someone take care oI them, rather than to do the work that
was necessary so they could take part in the greatest wedding banquet ever.
We can`t be ready Ior Jesus Christ, we won`t truly be able to know God`s will Ior us and then be able
to live out that will, iI we don`t commit ourselves to prayer and Bible study. I`m not up here to tell
you how best to do that in your own liIe, because I believe the how is dependent upon our
personalities. I am saying that to be ready at a moment`s notice Ior Jesus` return takes prayer and
study oI God`s word.
Finally, to be ready Ior Christ`s return we`re to be God`s stewards. We`re to give oI our time and our
money to God. It`s possible to think that preachers talk about stewardship because they want their
paycheck each week. I don`t know oI any minister oI Jesus Christ who is like that. I believe in
stewardship because by giving oI our time, our money, our abilities, and our very selves, we keep our
lamps Iilled with oil. By giving ourselves in ministry to those in need, to the hungry and the homeless,
the lonely and the rejected, we Iorm habits which keep us ready Ior the Lord`s return even when we
I Iind it very interesting that both the wise and Ioolish maidens did Iall asleep. But Ialling asleep
wasn`t the problem. Not being ready was the problem. We prepare ourselves Ior Christ`s return by
committing our lives to him, by worshiping and praising God together as God`s people, by praying
and studying God`s word, and by giving our time, our money, our service our very selves to God.
The great symbol in the church Ior our giving ourselves to God is participating in the Lord`s Supper.
As we partake oI the bread and cup, we commit ourselves once again to obedience to God. We
commit ourselves to Iollowing the teachings and example oI Jesus Christ. We commit ourselves to
proclaiming the love oI God to all people. As we join together at this, Christ`s Table, may each oI us
dedicate ourselves a new to Jesus Christ. Amen.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.