Jesus instructs us about being prepared: “Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13).
The parable of the bridesmaids and their lamps as told by Jesus to the disciples explains how we must prepare to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Five of the ten bridesmaids brought oil for their lamps and five brought no oil. They were going to meet the bridegroom. Night fell as they waited. The five who brought no oil had not anticipated needing their lamps and wished to borrow oil from the others. They were refused and had to leave and go buy oil for their lamps. When they returned, the bridegroom had come and all had gone to the wedding banquet. The door was closed and the five were refused entrance.
When I was a teenager I used to laugh with my friends at the sign outside a small church on the road to town. The sign read, “Jesus Saves”. For some reason this seemed comical to us. We all belonged to churches, but somehow this outward and visible expression seemed a bit radical to us. Our churches were much more reserved. Advertising Jesus seemed to be in poor taste. We thought that religion should be more personal. We had heard that the people in this small church did wild things in their worship of the Lord. They cried out and fell on the floor of the church. There seemed to be a sense of urgency about their faith. Our church environments were much more sterile and in our opinion more appropriate.
When Jesus says, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour,” He is gently telling us that we’d better be prepared to enter the kingdom of heaven. We may die any minute now. We may never see tomorrow’s sunrise. There is no time to spare. We must always have our supply of oil for our lamps. He gives us a lifetime to get prepared, but what is the definition of a lifetime? We have no guarantee of tomorrow. The evening news is about us. Things are happening to “we the people” every day. Someone once described life insurance to me that the life insurance company is betting that we will live and we are betting that we will die.
By golly maybe there is a sense of urgency about preparing ourselves for the kingdom of heaven. Maybe my view of those who take their religion seriously and openly express it is a little judgmental. Maybe the joke is on me. I don’t carry a supply of oil with me because I don’t even have a lamp. Maybe if I live my life like I am going to die tomorrow, I will be a better person for God, for myself and for others. Maybe I should try falling on my face and crying before God. After all, JESUS SAVES.