Session 23: The Gift of Kingdom Pre-Planning.

Holy Wednesday 2020

This is post #23 of a series entitled RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 27 podcasts and blogs that focuses a bit deeper on the first five days of what we now call Holy Week. Using the Gospel text found in Matthew 21 through 25, we explore the major differences between organized religion and true relationship with Christ. Practical sessions that give us Jesus’ view of spirituality as compared to the religiousness found in so many people today. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.


Click here to listen to the podcast version of this blog!

Today’s Lectio Divina: “God’s Kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep. In the middle of the night someone yelled out, ‘He’s here! The bride-groom’s here! Go out and greet him!’ The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, ‘Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.’ They answered, ‘There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.’ They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked. Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, ‘Master, we’re here. Let us in.’ He answered, ‘Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.’ So stay alert. You have no idea when He (Messiah) might arrive.” Matthew 25: 1-13 (MsgB)


As we’ve been discussing over the last few blogs, Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25) seems to have one major re-occurring theme:

Readiness.

(Or the lack of it).

Now, keep in mind, when these words were first written down on paper, Jesus had just left the scene. Many scholars believe that Matthew’s gospel was composed around 60 – 65 A.D. (sometime prior to the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D.) The early church was still forming. The traveling evangelist, Paul, was jailed in Rome, and his letters were starting to circulate amongst those church communities he and others had planted. From the time of Jesus’ ascension (33 A.D.) most Christ-followers fully believed that the Master would be returning within their lifetime. In one of Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18) he addresses this growing concern people are having about those who have “fallen asleep” (died) before Christ returns.

You see, in the first half of the first century, readiness was simply not a big issue. Everybody in the first generation of Christianity believed that Jesus was coming back in their lifetime, so no one was thinking about taking an extra bottle of oil to last them through the night! Which now brings us back to the reason Jesus told this story.

As I see it, today’s parable, which begins with words Jesus often uses when telling a story (God’s Kingdom is like…) is simply just another stern warning to us that we human beings don’t measure time like God does.

So, when Jesus says, “I’m coming back soon,” we hear, “Jesus is coming back next week.” When God’s word says, “Behold, soon I will act,” we hear “Don’t worry, God is gonna take care of that quickly.” When Jesus says, “Today, you will be with me in paradise,” we assume that he was talking about a 24-hour period.

But wait.

In God’s Kingdom economy, measuring time and space is done differently than the way you and I measure time and space. Tomorrow, to us earth-dwellers, is a 24-hour period away. Tomorrow to God can mean two-thousand years!

Get it?

So, the point here is that those of us who follow Christ must learn the fine art of waiting. And in Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins and their oil lamps, the lesson is not so much about who’s in and who’s out, but it’s about warning all of us who desire to follow Christ that doing so will require the gifts of patience, faithfulness, wisdom, discernment, and a whole bunch of pre-planning.

Hmm.

So, how’s your oil supply today? You got enough to last you through the night? Or are you one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants Christians who believes that pre-planning is just another excuse for not trusting God?

My Prayer: Jesus, in truth, I don’t like waiting. Nothing in my generation teaches me to wait, so I really have a hard time seeing any value in it. Yet, according to You and the Kingdom of God, waiting in hope is a characteristic that is cherished. Holy Spirit, allow me to learn from Jesus’ story about the five wise virgins who had enough smarts to do a bit of pre-planning. Teach me the ways of God, giving me the gift of wisdom and pre-planning. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.

My Questions to Ponder: In Eugene Peterson’s classic book, Long Obedience in the Same Direction, he discusses the glaring lack of giftedness in areas such as faithfulness, long-suffering, and waiting, particularly for those of us who live in an “I-want-it-now” generation. What will it look like for me to learn these lessons in long obedience so that I always carry an extra bottle or two of oil with me, so my lamp won’t go out during the next long night of waiting on God?

So, what are you hearing from Jesus as we take this journey into the first 5 Days of Holy Week?


Religion or Relationship: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ. 

A 27-session Lenten blog series from Matthew’s Holy Week Gospel.

Throughout the Lenten season (Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday), you and I will take a deeper look at Matthew 21-25. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our blog series home page for ease of use.

If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!

Click here to go onto the next session in this series…