Day 25

Jesus’s Parable About the Kingdom of God

from the reading plan

Matthew 25:1-46, Isaiah 60:19-21, 2 Peter 3:11-14

From the very start, Jesus has called on His followers to be ready for His second coming, and the parable of the ten virgins cuts to the heart of this matter. All ten virgins were disappointed at the delay of the groom; all ten fell asleep, and their torches had all gone out. And yet, five virgins had come prepared with oil so that they could re-light their lamps if the groom arrived later than expected. Jesus uses this parable to describe the proper state of readiness that His followers should exhibit as they wait for His second coming. “Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13).

When I was a young Christian, I would hear these kinds of passages in a threatening tone. I thought Jesus was telling His disciples to be ready for His return…or else! As if Jesus were like my little league coach yelling at us to practice more or else we’d get pummeled by that week’s opponent. In this perspective, our readiness was meant to stave off some kind of awful repercussion. But the more time that I have spent with Jesus, the more I’ve come to believe that our Lord has something altogether different in mind for you and me. Being prepared for Christ’s return isn’t about living in fear of something awful; rather, it’s about knowing the peace of Christ’s presence in our lives now, even as we await the fullness of his presence at his return.

Think again on the parable of the ten sleeping virgins. I am willing to bet that the slumber of those five virgins who brought with them enough oil for a long wait was far more restful and peaceful than those who came unprepared. Jesus doesn’t want our lives to be characterized by fear. It was fear that paralyzed the poor servant who simply buried his master’s talent (Matthew 25:24–25). No, it is His desire for us to know the peace that His promise of grace affords. As Peter says, “But based on his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). With eyes fixed on God’s promise, we wait in peace for Christ’s return.

However, our waiting is never inactive. What do God’s people do while they wait? How do they prepare? They participate in the ongoing ministry of Jesus to love and serve one another (Matthew 25:31–40). According to Jesus, being prepared for His return means loving your neighbor! It means sacrificing your time and resources for the good of those in need.

And it makes perfect sense. When the Lord comes again, everything about life on earth will dramatically change because we’ll all be fully redeemed. Therefore, just like a team that is preparing for the big game, the church is called to practice for that great day. If our life in eternity is to be characterized by the love of God, then let us practice that love today.

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