29th March 2019

You are all Invited!

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”
Matthew 25:1-5 (NIV UK)

In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the bridegroom represents Jesus Christ, and the virgins, those awaiting his return. The parable does not provide a clear interpretation of what the lamps or the oil symbolise. Some say the lamps remind us of Jesus’ invitation for Christians to be lights of the world. Many say the oil stands for the Holy Spirit, while others, for example, Martin Luther, interpret the oil as representing faith.

Yet in some ways, the oil is a bit of a red herring. Lack of oil in itself wasn’t the reason the bridesmaids were shut out. As Linda Rex argues in her sermon, Join the Party!1, “All ten virgins have all they need to take part in the forthcoming wedding – all have been invited and thus included. All that remains is for all of them to go out to meet the bridegroom.”

I believe the foolish virgins couldn’t join the party because they couldn’t accept they were already included, just as they were. Like many people today, they were confounded by the simplicity of grace. They felt they weren’t good enough on their own, so instead of trusting that the Bridegroom was everything they needed, they went off to find what else they had to do to join the party. They said no to Jesus’ yes.

Linda Rex again, “Scripture declares that because of who Jesus is…and what he has done on our behalf, all people are included in God’s love and life – all are loved, forgiven and accepted, and all are invited to respond to God’s invitation to participate in an intimate relationship with him through the ministry of the Spirit, who leads us to respond, but never forces us to do so. We can choose to turn away.”

The parable of the virgins exhorts us to trust Jesus, rest in him and participate with him in what he is doing now. Let’s not fall asleep waiting for his coming and lose faith in what he has already done for us.

Prayer
Almighty Father, strengthen our faith and help us to believe that Jesus has already done everything necessary for us to enter ‘the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ In the meantime, help us to wholeheartedly participate with him in his ministry to the world. Thank you, in Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by Peter Mill
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1 https://equipper.gci.org/2017/10/sermon-for-november-12-2017

About the Author:
Peter Mill is part of the National Ministry Team of Grace Communion International, UK and pastors the Edinburgh congregation.

Local Congregation:
GCI, Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EDINBURGH
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Mill
Email: edinburgh@gracecom.church

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