Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. Matthew 25:1-13 In some ways this sounds like the beginning of a joke. However, by the time you finish hearing the parable you know that it’s anything but. All ten of those bridesmaids knew that the bridegroom was coming. Yet, even today the reality of the parable is that when the time comes, some will not be prepared. I’m reminded of the time my mother told me to always have on clean underwear just in case I got hit by a car – or something! Although mom’s instruction was good enough for me, it really hit home years later when I was on call as a chaplain in a trauma unit. A young woman was brought in after being in a car accident. When the nurse cut off her clothes revealing her underwear, those of us who could see, all had the same look on our faces. My guess is we were all thinking of our mother’s warning. Prayerfully and thankfully the woman would fully recover from her injuries. I realized that although I don’t live expecting to be hit by a car, without thought, I daily heed my mother’s instruction. As believers, how much more so should we heed God’s instruction to be wisely prepared, as we live with the expectation of the coming Messiah? Keep Awake – because at that expected hour there won’t be an opportunity to recover!
During this advent season as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, we are reminded a lot about preparation and keeping awake for the return of our Savior. Particularly, today’s reading warns us to not be caught unprepared. This morning I am remembering the story about Jesus cursing the fig tree because it had no fruit (Matthew 21:18-22). It seemed awfully unfair to render such harsh punishment especially since the fig tree had no way of knowing that a hungry Christ would come strolling along its path. Although the question could be asked, “whose responsibility it was to tend to the fig tree,” I can relate to the humanness of Christ who experiences hunger, desire (to be fed), and the frustration and anger when his expectation is unfulfilled. What I also see is that when his disciples question him, he essentially assures his disciples and us, that we are not the fig tree! I know for myself, had I witnessed this experience, my initial thought would be; “If Christ would do that to a fig tree, what might he do to me?” The last thing I would want to do is disappoint someone who has that kind of authority. Yet in hindsight I know that there are situations I’ve met in life where I have fallen short of God’s expectation. Apart from this fact, Jesus says; “By faith, we have that same authority.” Life is not without disappointment and living is not without expectation. Thus, I believe the message to stay awake is not simply about living according to God’s Word because quite frankly there are many “unproductive fig trees” in the world. We have to be able to recognize those unproductive situations that may ultimately cause us to be unproductive. Instead, we are encouraged and reminded of the authority we have by faith in Christ to “move them out of the way,” because our purpose and goal is very clear. Don’t give away your authority through Christ. Keep Awake!
Matthew 24:32-44 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what dayyour Lord is coming.
Matthew 21:18-22 ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be lifted up and thrown into the sea”, it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.’