The Concept of "Delayed Return" of the Son of Man Introduced
Text: Matthew 25 : 1 - 13
The disciples of Jesus believed that He was the Messiah. They believed that He was the eschatological Son of Man (Cf. Daniel 7:13) who will return and establish a glorious kingdom! However, they did not know just when Jesus would return! That part of His return was a knowledge that God reserved to Himself. However, this much Jesus could tell His disciples. He would return when He would return! They must live in constant anticipation and expectancy of His Return! The time element was not as important as the truth element! To help them understand the idea of a “delayed return” Jesus told the parable of the Wise and Foolish virgins.
“But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered
and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard:
‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins arose 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, ‘No, lest there should not
be enough for us and for you; but go rather to those who sell,
and buy for yourselves.’
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came,
and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding;
and the door was shut.
Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord,
open to us!’
But He answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you,
I do not know you.’
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour
in which the Son of Man is coming.”
“But while the bridegroom was delayed…”
No reason was given as to why the bridegroom was delayed. There was no need for any reason to be given! This was a custom that all knew well. The timing of the coming of the bridegroom was always kept “secret”. That lent an air of excitement to the whole wedding party!
“The Wise Virgins”
They were called wise for a special reason. They knew that the bridegroom would be delayed. They were ready for such a delay. They made sure that they had sufficient oil to last through the night!
“The Foolish Virgins”
They were called “foolish” for a special reason too. They too knew that the bridegroom could be delayed, but they did not bother to make any preparation for that contingency. Perhaps they figured that they could borrow some oil from their friends. Or perhaps they figured that they could just go to a convenience shop around the corner and get an extra supply of oil in the event that the bridegroom came and their lamps were running out of oil.
“Lord, lord, open to us”
The foolish virgins kept believing that they could gain entrance into the wedding feast, right up to the very last moment! They figured that since they were invited to the wedding party, their places would be reserved! They were wrong.
They probably thought that if they knocked long enough, surely the bridegroom would not deny them entrance! They were wrong on this count too!
“Assuredly, I say to you, I never knew you”
What ominous words these were! What did these words mean? But of course the bridegroom knew them – by their personal names too! What could he mean by these words?
Surely He did not mean that they had been rejected! Surely, He could not mean that they had proven themselves unworthy! Surely, He could not mean that they would not be allowed in! The sad and solemn truth sunk in slowly but surely. He meant what He said.
They may have been invited. That was such a privilege! But they had taken that privilege for granted! They had shown themselves unworthy of being invited! They held on to their own ideas about the wedding procedures, even though they knew all the expectations of the bridegroom. Their friends had taken all the necessary steps to be ready for the coming of the bridegroom. They had not. They had no one to blame but themselves. They certainly could not blame the bridegroom for his delay! They should have been ready, but they were not!
A MIDNIGHT CRY
The teaching of the Return of the Son of Man was compared to a wedding deliberately. The world may not even believe in His Return, but to true believers, His Return was a joyous event. It may indeed be compared to a wedding, with Jesus as the Bridegroom, and the Church as the Bride.
There should be such a great sense of joyous anticipation and expectation! The sense of joy should never be lost, from the first day of preparation to the final day when the Bridegroom appears!
The mere thought of Jesus returning should cause the heart to yearn for His return. Each and every day should be filled with careful but joyous preparation for His coming! Is this possible? Not only is this possible, it is a necessity! The difference between wisdom and folly couldn’t be made clearer than illustrated in this parable! “And at midnight, a cry was heard, ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming…'” Are we ready?