06 November 2011

"Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (v. 13)


We find this parable in the midst of a sea of unknowing: the now - but not yet. The final events of Jesus' life are only just beginning to unfold and yet, before he has died - we are dealing with his return. It's as if we need the backdrop of the final days of creation so that we can understand the final days of Jesus' life. Somehow the eschaton (the final days) are bound to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

How is this?

We're not sure, or at least this passage doesn't hint at a 'how' or 'why' and certainly not 'when'! In fact the only question it really asks is 'will': will you be ready when those last days come?

The parable uses the imagery of a wedding that is very different to most western experiences of weddings. Why is it happening at midnight? What is the purpose of the ten virgins? And the lamps? We can get bogged down by trying to make every detail of the parable make sense, and in doing so probably miss the point.

The point that comes clearly from the parable is that the people of God must be ready. They must be continually attentive to the possibility that a new world might begin, a different order. They must ready themselves and live in anticipation of the day when Jesus will return and so the 'then' becomes the 'now'.

To Ponder

What do you think about the idea that Jesus will come again?

How might you live each day in readiness and expectancy?

If Jesus returns tomorrow - what do you think the world would look/feel like?

Bible notes author: The Revd Simon Sutcliffe

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