Sunday 09 November 2014

Bible Book:

“But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’” (v. 6)

Matthew 25:1-13 Sunday 9 November 2014


If you have ever read the Gospel according toMark you may have picked up a sense of urgency. Moving from pointto point situations and stories are linked by the phrase, 'andimmediately'. It seems that Mark is galloping along and can't waitto share his message. Matthew's Gospel feels all the morepedestrian. Joining the narrative around chapter 24 leads us on a steady march with adefinite intention.

Through this chapter, which precedes ourpassage, Matthew's Gospel begins to talk about the end times (theeschaton). In some ways all the Gospels move in this direction buteach writer will, apparently be diverted, to take in the view,before breaking camp and moving on again. But by this time thedirection is clear. We are beginning to prepare for the end, theend of all things - a cosmological conflagration signalled,perhaps, by natural disasters. Ultimately the temple in Jerusalemwill be razed to the ground. It is not clear from the Greek whetherthis will come about by some geological disaster, through warfareor something completely beyond natural experience. All that is sureis that this will happen. And in 70 CE the temple did fall, butthere was no cosmological end of all things. This has led to debateas to the meaning of these passages and to whether they areauthentically words of Jesus or built up by the Church after thefall of the temple.

What is sure is that this time will come andit is now likened to the coming of a bride groom - "at midnightthere was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meethim'". The passage underlines that the time of this coming is not,and will not, be known. What is essential for those who are waitingis to be diligent in their tasks and to maintain a sense ofexpectation. That which they are expecting is, in Hebrew scripturalterms, 'The Day of the Lord', the coming of the Messiah, a point ofjudgment, of crisis. For Christians this coming has beentraditionally associated with judgment, with the Second Coming ofChrist.

To Ponder

  • How have you felt if your expectations have been dashed, anevent has been delayed, or even cancelled? How might this help youto imagine the experience of the bridesmaids?
  • The story of the bridesmaids relates to people waiting for atime of judgement. How does this speak to you today?
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