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Before It is Too Late

Matthew 25:1-13 

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William Slagle has served just over ten years of his life sentence for stabbing one of his students at Samford University to death. Why would a professor at a Christian University kill one of his students? Apparently the 20-year-old member of the debate team that Slagle coached wasn't prepared for a match. (

Certainly, death is too harsh a punishment for something as common as being unprepared for a test or a debate-a failing grade would have sufficed. But the truth is that some things require advanced preparation or they could result in death. A parachuter needs to prepare for a jump, an army needs to prepare for battle and everyone must prepare to meet their maker.

Jesus made that point in his parable of the ten virgins. He said:

"Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. [2] And five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. [3] For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, [4] but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. [5] Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. [6] But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' [7] Then all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps. [8] And the foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' [9] But the prudent answered, saying, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' [10] And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. [11] And later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' [12] But he answered and said, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' [13] Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour." (Matthew 25:1-13 NASB)

Jesus' story here is foreign to our culture, but would have resonated with his hearers. It is a "slice of life" parable that evoked many memories among the people of his day. In Palestine, young couples wouldn't go away for a week-long honeymoon, instead, they would stay at their home and would have a sort of "open house" for their friends. Everyone treated the couple as royalty, the week following their wedding ceremony was undoubtedly the best week of their lives.

Before the wedding, the maidens kept the bride company outside of the groom's house as she waited for him to arrive. They'd bring lamps to use while they waited because they were not allowed in the streets at night without light. Because the groom could come at any time, even at night, they had to stay and wait. 

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