Sermon: Keep Awake


In times of trouble what are the most important things for a Christian to do?


Today I want to encourage us to follow Jesus’ advice to keep awake.

Sermon Plan

We will first read Mark 13:24-37. Then we will discuss what the solution to all our troubles is, to ask what we would do if today was our last day, discuss a man who outgrew God, the hopelessness of human government, that all states are failed states, that in Christ even bad news is good news, to ask the question where is salvation, what Christmas has to do with that, and why in troubled times we need to keep awake.

  • There is a Solution

Advent is a time of hope for the world. It is not the next election, or the next great political movement, the next great religious movement or even our favorite sports team winning the season. Passages such as Mark 13:24-37 reveal that the end of all human systems, even our own, is failure. It also reveals that ultimate justice for the downtrodden is not the occupy movement. It also reveals that ultimate form of government is not found in the tea party movement. It is not the political left or right. It is not in any of the leaders of this world. The great achievements of our time, whether in science, technology, space, medicine, engineering, transportation, communications or the Internet have not solved our most urgent human problems. In Christ’s advent there is a solution to all humanity’s problems.

  • If Today was your Last Day

Every generation of the church has predicted the second coming in their lifetimes. Even though they got the dates wrong, they were right in a way because Jesus will return someday. The problem with predictions is that we are clearly told in the Bible that nobody knows the day or hour (Mark 13:24-37). But, what if Jesus returned tonight, how different would our day be? That is the essence of the passage, to treat each day as if it were our last, because one day we will be right. Who would we speak to? Who would we give one last hug to? Who would we apologize to? What would we set right? What have we left undone? What kinds of prayers would we say? What would no longer have any importance and what would suddenly take on great importance?

  • The Man Who Outgrew God

An acquaintance once told me that since childhood he “outgrew God.” Do we no longer need God to sustain our lives? He is not absent. Perhaps at Advent we remember Christ’s first and second comings, but forget his presence, thinking that he is absent and that we no longer need his daily providence. Places like Mark 13:24-37 speak of his second coming in clouds with great power and glory. But, Jesus came, comes and is coming. How? Advent celebrates Jesus first coming, his birth as God with us. But it also celebrates his present coming, his mysterious presence with us in communion and his gracious daily maintenance of our lives. And it also celebrates his final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the age. Is Christ absent? He is as close as our every heartbeat.

  • Hopeless Human Government

According to some experts, the Gospel of Mark was compiled immediately after the Jewish War of 66-70 AD. The temple was destroyed and Jewish patriots were crushed. Though the prophecy in Mark 13:24-37 was made prior to the Jewish War, Mark was possibly influenced in his emphasis by the recent abuses of a human government. After such a national tragedy hope was needed. Jesus is in charge of the cosmos, not the brutal Roman rulers. This prophecy is not about any hopes for a kinder human government. There is no such hope in any human government. The prophecy is about the only real hope for all our problems, God establishing his government through Christ in a new age. Jesus gave a foretaste of it by healing, teaching and caring for the poor. That’s why we pray thy kingdom come.

  • Failed States

There is a lot of talk today about failed states, usually meaning either the historic failure of Communism or in more recent times, countries which have failed economically. But, if the truth be known all countries are failed states. That’s why in the democratic world we regularly fire our leaders and elect new ones. If previous leaders had not failed we would have passed laws to keep them in office. But, all human states have failed. We have failed to curb greed, stop crime, solve poverty, steady inflation, cure diseases, prevent child abuse and reverse climate change. According to Mark 13:24-37, before the second coming states will fail to prevent worldwide catastrophe. At the same time, it is good news, because at the second coming, Jesus will bring an end to all failed states and introduce peace at last.

  • When Bad News is Good News

There is so much bad news about today that many people simply refuse to keep up with the world news. We fear terrorism, economic collapse, political change, crime, government interference in our freedoms, the weather, climate change, and a host of other things. Have we ever thought that all this bad news is good news? I’m crazy, right? Yet Mark 13:24-37 seems to indicate that the good news of coming world peace is preceded by bad news. Just like birth pangs quickly give way to great joy, so too will the bad times just prior to Christ’s return immediately give way to the best news of human history. How do we prepare for that? Like a soldier preparing for battle, we must be ready. That time will take faith. Let’s draw near to God now while we have time.

  • Where is Salvation?

Where is salvation? If we listen to the deception of television advertising too long we may be inclined to believe that salvation is in the latest fashion fad, pharmaceutical drug, diet or other product that is over-hyped and under-delivers. If we listen to certain televangelists, we may believe that salvation is available in false promises of health and wealth for sending “seed money” to them. If we listen to the entertainment industry too long, we may believe that salvation is to be found in easy sex, big cars, and aberrant lifestyles. If we listen to the deception of politics we may believe that salvation is either on the left or the right. In the end, it all leads to great calamities like those mentioned in Mark 13:24-37, but the next chapter of human history reveal true salvation in Jesus.

  • What is Christmas

What is Christmas? It is a great variety of things. It is about stress, gift-giving, sentimental moments, family time, a holiday with pagan origins, materialism, Santa Claus and retail sales. Early in Christian history, the Church saw in this time an opportunity for spreading the good news of the coming of Christ. Ever since then in the noise surrounding this time of year, that message still manages to get through. Even in Shinto Japan, department stores play music containing words of the gospel. In the midst of our Christmas frivolity is a serious message. Mark 13:24-37 points out how serious that message is. We need world peace. One of the main messages of Christmas is that he who came once will also come again in great power and glory to gather his chosen ones. He alone can bring peace.

  • Keep Awake

In Mark 13:24-37 we are told to keep awake, to stay alert. As we think of Advent, the coming of Christ in the flesh, it is also good to remember that he will come again. Every generation of Christians has generated its false prophets who claim to know the day or hour of Christ’s return, but they have all proven wrong. Few of them have admitted it. Our duty to God is not in prediction, but in being ready, because we don’t know when Jesus will return. Rather than getting caught up in prophetic speculation our job it to stay awake. What must we do to be ready for his return? What would we change if we knew he would come tomorrow? Ought not our readiness be the same as if he were coming tomorrow, because someday he will?


Today we discussed what the solution to all our troubles is, what we might do if today was our last day, that a man cannot outgrow God, the hopelessness of human government, that all states are failed states, that in Christ even bad news is good news, that salvation is only in Jesus, what Christmas has to do with that. Let’s not allow this word and its deception lull us to sleep, but keep awake!

Sermon: Does Jesus Know You (Part 2)?


At the beginning of the Matthew 25, Jesus told the foolish virgins that he did not know them. Do we ever recognize Jesus in the downtrodden and destitute around us? Do the poor and marginalized know us or do we avoid them?


Today, I want to encourage us to recognize Jesus in the needy. I want Jesus to know us, because we have visited him.

Sermon Plan

Read the text Judging the Nations (Matthew 25:31-46). Discuss the gospel that evangelicals miss, what some call the social gospel, the problem of poverty, loving God in our neighbor, how characteristics of sheep and goats fit the discussion, how God will judge the nations, what is a living faith and seeing Jesus in the poor.

Sermon Body:

  • The Gospel Evangelicals Miss (2)

An acquaintance of mine was involved in church relief in Florida after a destructive hurricane. He noticed how some evangelical churches also had large crews to repair their church buildings. Once they had repaired those buildings they packed up and left. My friend and his team stayed on to look after the needs of people. This is a part of the Gospel that evangelicals often miss. It is described in Matthew 25:31-46. Repairing church buildings while people outside are hungry, thirsty, in need of clothing, in need of hospitality, sick, and in need of a visit is a woeful example of our Christian calling. Is it time for some of us to repent? Is it time to get out of our holy places and live the Gospel on our streets by clothing and feeding Jesus Christ in the needy?

  • The Social Gospel is the Gospel

Evangelicals often criticize the idea of a social gospel as an excuse for liberalism. But that is not completely true. Social responsibility is a part of the whole package of the Gospel. Probably one of the best places to go to understand that is Matthew 25:31-46. This important passage deepens Jesus’ descriptions of being a light in Matthew 5:13-16 where he described it as good works, and Matthew 25:1-13 where he described the need to have oil to light our lamps. Good works certainly entail pious deeds such as prayer. However, good works also involve deeds of charity such as feeding and clothing the poor. This side of good works is what some term the social gospel. When a social gospel is spurned as liberal it becomes an excuse for not obeying Jesus Christ in social responsibility.

  • Problem, Cause, Solution

In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus described ongoing problems in our society such as poverty and sickness. What are some of the causes? Poverty is caused by overpopulation, inadequate distribution methods, rising costs, inadequate education, unemployment and under-employment, environmental degradation, individual responsibilities, medical costs, sickness, greed, the cost and devastation of war, natural disasters, industrial changes, recessions, discrimination, pregnancy out of wedlock, disability, crime and unjust incarceration, immigrant status, gang presence, etc. How do we as Christians address those problems? Do we address the short-term need of feeding the poor, or do we address the political and economic issues that cause poverty? Some Christians address the direct need by activity in a soup kitchen. Others address the underlying causes by involvement in politics. Both address the problem, but Jesus only demanded that we at least start by giving the hungry food.

  • Loving God in our Neighbor

At advent we tend to focus on Jesus’ first and second comings. What we often miss is his resurrected presence with us today. Where can we find Jesus today? Can we find him by worshiping in a church service or in other acts of religious piety like prayer, fasting, tithes and offerings? Yes. In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus described another important place. During his ministry on earth he was possibly more often among our most needy neighbors, those who would be considered the least by many people. Jesus came to the poor and needy. He was born in the most impoverished circumstances, lived an itinerant life without fixed abode and served the sick and poor. We are called to join him in his ministry to the hungry and needy. If we want to find him that is where he is.

  • Sheep and Goats

What is it about sheep and goats that Jesus used them in Matthew 25:31-46 as a parable for those who would be saved and those not? Sheep farming requires intensive animal husbandry. They require continual work. On the other hand, sheep are easy to work with because they are gentle and quiet. Goats on the other hand, are more independent and don’t require so much intensive animal husbandry. They are not as easily herded as sheep and they stink. When together in a flock, goats will domineer over the sheep and often butt them out of the way to reach food. However, they are not harmful predators like wolves, so they can stay with the flock to be separated out later. That is exactly what Jesus will do at the judgment. The selfish and independent can stay for now.

  • How God Judges Nations

How will people who have never heard the name Jesus be judged? Are they automatically assigned to hell without a chance? What of those who perhaps heard the name Jesus but were taught lies? Would God just assign them to hell without mercy? Matthew 25:31-46 gives some clues as to how Jesus will judge the world? Whether or not people know the name Jesus, they may have served him by serving the poor. It is a major area where, even many who believe in Jesus fail. Could it just well be that some who believe in the name of Jesus will be judged more harshly than those who have never even heard the name? Could it be that some who do not even know Jesus by name will be blessed because they already love him by serving the needy?

  • Living Faith

What kind of faith saves dead or living faith? In James 2 we read that faith is accompanied by works, not works of the law, but good deeds or it is dead. Must we do good works to earn salvation? We are saved by faith, and Paul said of faith, hope and love that love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13). How can we have faith that saves without showing love to our neighbors? Does a closer look at Matthew 25:31-46 reveal that good works are evidence of those who are blessed by God? These “righteous” did not even know how they had fed and clothed Jesus. Could it be that their motive was love for God and their neighbor and not earning salvation by works? Could it be that such good works are evidence of living faith?

  • Do we See Jesus

Do we see Jesus? Perhaps you think I’m crazy for suggesting it. Some people claim to have seen Jesus in visions but that is not what I am asking. Have we seen Jesus in the manner that Matthew 25:31-46 indicates? Some people avoid hungry and thirsty people and perhaps have never noticed them, but if we were to be invited to see Jesus, would we go to see him? If we have never seen strangers or those without clothing would we take the effort to go and see them? When we see a sick or imprisoned person, let’s take a closer look. Do we see Jesus? No? Take another look. Look past their faces and deep into their souls. Do we see the suffering, anxiety, pain, rejection, loneliness and depression? Do we see in them the suffering of Jesus?


Today’s text is not just for the church, but explains criteria by which God will judge all the nations. It is the gospel that evangelicals miss, what some call the social gospel. We all have a responsibility towards the problem of poverty, to loving God in our neighbor. We also saw how some characteristics of sheep and goats fit the discussion. Salvation is by faith, but not a dead faith, a living faith.

Finally, let us not be unknown to Jesus, but recognize Jesus in the needy. Let us allow Jesus to know us because the poor and marginalized know us.

Sermon: God’s Investment in Us

by Ian Grant Spong (November 13, 2011)
If salvation is a free gift does that mean that we can just sit back and be lazy Christians?
To discover what the Parable of the Talents has to say about this question.
Sermon Plan
Read the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Answer the question, what is a talent? Discover some important spiritual lessons. Examine the spiritual value of risk, the spiritual responsibility of wealth and look at some unanswered questions.
     1. What is a Talent
What is a talent in the Parable of the Talents? It is a unit of money for gold or silver. The Greek talent from Athens or Attic talent was equal to 26 kilogram (57 pounds) weight of silver. At the time of writing the spot price of silver was about $35 an ounce, giving a value of about $32,000 for a talent of silver. That value is somewhat helpful, but is a comparison for our time using today’s silver values. Another way to measure a talent was used anciently. It was a value equivalent to nine year’s wages. If the current average wage is about $42,000 that would result in a talent being worth about $378,000. Whichever way we calculate it, it contradicts the criticism of the lazy servant. The master was very generous.
     2. The Greatest Talent
The Parable of the Talents could be interpreted to justify bonuses for those who sell bad products and cheat their neighbors merely because they profited. It could also be used to justify selfish businesses which don’t share profits and pay lowest wages with few benefits. But, the parable is about the kingdom of heaven, not this world or its business practices. So the talents are spiritual and the bonus is given to those who produce the most spiritual profit. It is easy to deceive ourselves that we have greater value than others and thus overcharge our neighbors and underpay our workers. It is more logical that the parable pictures someone who produced the most in loving God and neighbor and thus would be rewarded the most, because in heaven the greatest talent is the capacity to love.
     3. Some Important Spiritual Lessons
The Parable of the Talents highlights some important spiritual lessons. 1) We are servants of the master of our destiny, not masters of our destiny. 2) The kingdom of heaven is not an egalitarian society. We are not equal in ability or opportunity. 3) Those who produce are sometimes good and faithful. Those who do not produce are sometimes evil and lazy. 4) The safe route can be the riskiest of all and lead to failure. 5) Faithfulness in small things can lead to great things. Unfaithfulness in the smallest things can lead to complete failure. 6) Don’t waste time criticizing the boss as too hard, just get on with the job. 7) Successful people get straight to work. Fear can produce failure. 8) Those who produce more deserve more but not excessively so.
     4. Same Salvation Different Rewards
The fight for equality among feminists, the occupy movement, trade unions, homosexuals and ethnic minorities is often in the headlines. Equality seems to be an unreachable ideal where greed, prejudice and poverty are at war. Even Christianity’s great advocates for social justice realize that total equality is not always just, nor realistic. The Parable of the Talents indicates that rewarding people according to their works is fair. The question is then how much is fair compensation and how much is greedy excess? The parable gives a ten or twenty percent raise to the one who produced much. That is a far cry from the hundred or thousand-fold pay that some think they deserve. Many Christians realize that the great equalizer is not in this life but in eternity, where the solution will be: same salvation, different rewards.
     5. Risky Christianity
Is our personal spiritual journey one where we play it safe or are we willing to take risks? It is a risk to mention the Gospel to others. They may hate us, or dismiss us as nut cases, or they may believe and be saved. Many Christians take their faith and bury it, but Christianity is meant to spread. In the Parable of the Talents Jesus likened the path that he would prefer a Christian to take to making business investments. A common practice in ancient times, before banking became common, was to bury money in the ground. It was the safe route. But Jesus does not want us to take the safe route with the spiritual investments that he has left us. He wants us to take risks and grow his investment. People are his treasure.
     6. Grace is a Risk
Rather than take a risk that people may abuse privileges, the legalistic solution is to ban them. We try to be more righteous than Jesus, ignoring many Bible passages which reveal such things as blessings from God if used rightly. Legalistic lists of things banned down through the ages include sex, dancing, alcohol, and card-playing. Grace is a risk. Legalism is not. Matthew 25:14-30 encourages us to take the risk of grace. Yet we seek the safe route, put all our blessings in a napkin and bury them in the ground. Let’s not live life as if we just sucked on a sour lemon. Legalism seems safe but it is not. It is a prison. Jesus did not obey such silly Pharisaic taboos. Instead he took giant risks, dying on a cross so that some might be saved.
     7. A Gamble vs the Safe Route
Some Christians are totally against gambling, meaning all games of chance. Those same Christians rarely criticize farmers, commuters or business people for taking a gamble. The truth is there are stupid gambles where the odds are terrible, like state lotteries, most games at a Casino and starting a business with inadequate backing. There are also calculated gambles, like playing penny ante poker, having car insurance or planting a crop of potatoes. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus staked a group of people and he asked them to take a gamble with his money. He did not ask them to take any foolish risks, but to take a chance never-the-less. Sometimes in life we simply need to step out and take a gamble. Remember, it was the person who took the safe route who was criticized in the Parable of the Talents.
     8. Kingdom Capitalism
Private capitalism in the hands of greedy people causes gross inequities and class warfare. In the hands of people who love God and neighbor it is a blessing. That reality may help us to understand what The Parable of the Talents is all about. The honorable means to wealth is hard work, but for Jews under Roman occupation the means to wealth was by corruption and oppressing the poor. Wealth today can also be gotten by good and evil means and also be used for loving or selfish purposes. Why does the parable reward those who produce more spiritually for the kingdom of God? Well, the parable is not about greedy capitalism, but kingdom capitalism. God knows that those who produce more spiritually will love him and their neighbors most, and be the most willing to share.
     9. What God Requires of the Wealthy
As class warfare threatens, a question needs to be asked: What does God require of the wealthy? Wealth can be gained by good or evil means. Wealthy people also have a greater capacity for good or evil. Wealth does bring a greater responsibility for doing good in the world. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus went on to illustrate how those who have been given much can do so much more for God. In Luke 12:41-48 he reminded us that to whom much is given much is required. Warren Buffett has been preaching that the wealthy need to pay a greater share of taxes, but that is only a small part of the story. Wealthy people have far more capacity to show love to their neighbors in practical ways than the average person. Love for neighbor is what God requires.
     10. Unanswered Questions
The Parable of the Talents does not seem to cover all possible scenarios. For instance, what if a servant was given an endowment and lost it all to bad investments? This parable is not talking about worldly money but spiritual capital. Heaven’s silver cannot fail because it is the currency of a kingdom which cannot fail. The only way to our personal failure is to do nothing, to bury the gift of God in the ground. If used, it will produce fruit. What if a servant was given a large sum and decided to steal it and run? Again, we are not talking about a worldly master here but God and his kingdom. There simply is nowhere to run. The only thing that we can do with spiritual gifts received is either use them or bury them.
God is master of our destiny and he expects us to do good works which show love to him and love to our neighbor. Lazy Christianity is not Christianity at all. The safe, do-nothing route is the riskiest of all. God expects us to take reasonable risks and produce fruit. Let’s get straight to work without fear because the kingdom of heaven and its investments cannot fail. All our efforts in God are profitable.

Sermon: Does Jesus Know You (Part 1)?

by Ian Grant Spong (November 6, 2011)


How prepared are we for Christ’s return? Will he say to us on that day, I know you?


To discover what the parable of the Ten Virgins can tell us about being prepared for Christ’s return and how it relates to God knowing us.

Sermon Plan

Read the text, the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13and then pick out some discussion points along the way. Discussed will be olive oil, changing the Great Commandments, God knowing us, the idea of orthpraxy, and preparedness.

Sermon Body:

1.   Olive Oil

The Parable of the Ten Virgins is partly about olive oil (Matthew 25:1-13). It was the oil used to light lamps. It was used by Jacob to sanctify a pillar and later used to consecrate priests and kings for office and the tabernacle for holy use. Olive oil was an offering and the fuel for a continual light in the tabernacle and the temple. It was used in the baking of holy bread and the main ingredient in holy anointing oil. Olive oil was used in numerous sacrifices. It was used for the healing of the sick and symbolizes the Holy Spirit. When the five foolish virgins took no oil, they were neglecting some major spiritual ingredients, giving an inferior offering, with no fuel for their Christian light, not living consecrated lives and neglecting to care for the sick.

2.   Changing the Great Commandments

Rich Warren changed the Great Commandments into worship and ministry. Which is better, love for God or worship and love for neighbor or ministry? Warren’s changes watered down the original. His substitute wording formed two of five points in a whole discipleship program. John Wesley did the same thing, changing the Great Commandments. Love for God became acts of piety and love for neighbor became acts of mercy. But those substitutes also weaken the original. Piety is not the whole of love for God and mercy is not the whole of love for neighbor. The Church is built on the teachings of Jesus Christ not substitute concepts. Substitutes cheapen God’s way. In Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus began a much superior discussion, expanding the Great Commandments. Love for God is greater than piety and begs the question, does God know us?

3.   I Know You Not

In Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus told the lazy bridesmaids, “I know you not.” Shocking! If Jesus does not know us what can we do? People get to know each other by spending time with each other. Do we make every effort to know God and allow him to know us? What are some ways that we can “buy oil” and allow God to get to know us? When people spend time together, they talk, listen and do things together. Prayer can be a selfish monologue where we just bark requests at God, or it can be a conversation with God. Bible reading can be a conversation with God. Silent meditation can be listening to God. Asking God where he is and accepting an invitation to do things with him is another way of allowing God to get to know us.

4.   Orthodoxy without Orthopraxy is Hypocrisy

Can we teach an authentic Christian gospel without living an authentic Christian life? In theological terms must not orthodoxy (right teaching) include orthopraxy (right living)? In Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus encouraged us to DO something, to buy oil for our lamps rather than just sit around waiting for a heavenly oil delivery. What does it mean to buy this spiritual oil? Jesus divided what Christians DO (orthopraxy) into two areas: loving God and loving our neighbor. In practice, love for God is incomplete without love for neighbor. Acts of piety like weekly worship and daily prayers are one way to actively love God. Acts of mercy like feeding the poor are one way to actively love our neighbors. Can right teaching and right practice be separated? Jesus told the Pharisees that their orthodoxy without orthopraxy was hypocrisy (Matthew 23:1-12).

5.   While we Wait

Part of Christianity is a waiting game. We are waiting for Jesus to return. While we wait, what should we be doing? Matthew 25:1-13 begins to address this question. The two imperatives for us in this text are that we should make sure that we have enough oil and that Jesus knows us. What is the oil? The passage does not say and so interpreters have a field day. Some inject the definition from other contexts into this one by saying that oil is the Holy Spirit, but that may not be what this particular context means. Luther believed it pictures faith. Others say that the end of the chapter provides an answer in works of charity, which seems to be more likely. In another similar context the light of Christian life is also good works (Matthew 5:13-16).

6.   Prediction or Preparation

Which science is more important in surviving an earthquake, prediction or preparation? If we were able to predict with certainty that an earthquake would come to Los Angeles, California mid afternoon tomorrow, how many lives might be saved? Perhaps a number would evacuate the city, but many would not. On the other hand, if we were able to construct buildings, utilities and distribution methods that could withstand the strongest earthquakes, many more could be saved? Of course we cannot yet predict earthquakes and neither can we predict the day or the hour of Christ’s return. Many false prophets have predicted the date of his return perhaps every generation for the past 2,000 years. Few have admitted their error. They failed to understand the Bible. Many scriptures including Matthew 25:1-13 teach that prediction is fruitless but preparation is vital.

7.   Not Left Behind but Left Out

What an offense is the the Parable of the Bridesmaids in Matthew 25:1-13! People are left out of the wedding because they did not have any oil. To make matters worse, the bridegroom even tells the latecomers that he does not know them. Perhaps the offense is there because we don’t understand the intent of the parable. Spiritual preparedness is not something that can be delegated to someone else, just as the empty bridesmaids could not simply borrow oil from another. We can only prepare for ourselves. We cannot even prepare for those we love the most. We can encourage them and set them an example, but they are responsible for their own relationship with Christ, for him knowing them. How many of us are not spiritually prepared but have been thinking we could borrow oil from someone else?

8.   Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is vital if in the case of a real calamity, we are to survive. In earthquake zones it means building structures that are suited. In tornado zones it means either building tornado proof structures or underground household shelters. In hurricane zones it means stronger building codes, evacuation procedures and efficient response teams. In wildfire zones it means evacuation procedures, homes that are fire resistant and/or contain fireproof shelters. We need preparedness for other things as well. Financial preparedness means being ready for health crises, unemployment and old age. Educational preparedness means that we are ready for the needs of the job market so that we can feed our families. In Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus also addressed the idea of preparedness. He will return in power and when he does only those who are ready will be welcomed.

9.   The Clock is Ticking

In the Parable of the Bridesmaids (Matthew 25:1-13) there is a two-fold time problem. On the one hand we don’t know when Jesus will return, but on the other hand the clock is ticking. How do we deal with an expected Jesus while we do not know when he will return? A particular Rabbi was known for saying that we should repent the day before we die. When his students objected that we don’t know when that day would be, he would simply reply, “All the more reasons to repent today, lest you die tomorrow.” How long will we put off necessary spiritual preparations for the kingdom of heaven? How long will we persist in unrepentant sins, hoping to repent later? How long before we act upon the Gospel message by approaching the throne of mercy in heartfelt gratitude?


Are we spiritually prepared for Christ’s return? Are our containers filled with spiritual olive oil? Does God know us? Let’s be prepared, so that on that day he may say to us, I know you.