The date was May 21, 1983 and the event was a wedding. Not just any wedding but that of my future sister-in-law, Ellen Mainse to a very special Arab man, Nizar Shaheen. The location of the wedding was unusual as they were married in the village of Cana – the same Cana where Jesus turned the water into wine at a wedding celebration. But that’s not all that made this event unique.
Nizar and Ellen were married in the typical Middle Eastern tradition, which meant that the groom, not the bride, was the focal point for the day. Nizar was pampered and fussed over and the buzz in the air all centered around the groom. Oh, Ellen was important too, but in the eyes of the guests, she was only the bride. All eyes were waiting ... for the groom.
It was an outdoor wedding and the weather was beautiful. Blue skies and warm breezes set the stage for this modern-day wedding in Cana. And then the excitement started. The crowd began searching and whispering. The groom had been spotted! He was getting closer. While the bride slipped in a side door on the arm of her Father, the groom made his grand entrance on the back of a white horse. The crowd erupted in applause at his long-anticipated appearance. The groom had arrived. Let the festivities begin! And that’s just the stage Jesus set in today’s reading.
Jesus was still speaking with His disciples, preparing them for how to live in anticipation for His return. In these verses, Jesus told the parable of the ten bridesmaids.
These young women were anxiously awaiting the appearance of the groom. He and his bride were on their way from the wedding ceremony to the wedding feast, and these girls didn’t want to miss their entrance. Jesus told us right away that five of these girls were wise and five were foolish. The wise girls had come prepared. They were ready for a lengthy wait for the groom to appear. Their lamps were full of oil. The foolish girls hadn’t thought much about preparations, only about the excitement of the big moment. And as we know, these girls missed it. Their lamps were running dry, and in a panic they went searching for oil. Jesus told us that while they were doing what they should’ve done in advance, the long-awaited groom arrived and the festivities began – behind locked doors.
Jesus used this illustration to encourage His disciples – including us – to be prepared. The oil in those lamps not only represented fuel for light, but it also represented the Spirit of God, Himself. And only those with the oil of His Spirit will be welcomed into the Presence of the Groom – the Holy One – Jesus.
So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of My return. Matthew 25:13
Jesus – the Bridegroom – is coming back for His Bride – the Church. That is, for those who have recognized Jesus as God’s Son, accepted His forgiveness through the Cross, and committed themselves to living for Him. If you have done this, you are ready for the celebration.
Keep watching… the Bridegroom is coming soon!