April 2, 2020

A reflection on Matthew 25:1-13 by our Assistant Program Director, Angie Smith.

Today’s Matthew reading is a continuation of yesterday’s apocalyptic reading. It’s another one of those texts that we need to read carefully and not read too much into it or out of it. It’s really easy to go down a rabbit hole when reading apocalyptic texts, if you aren’t careful, you’ll be seeing signs all around you.

A few things to keep in mind as we read this parable:

  1. The Gospels were written after Jesus death and resurrection. Mark being the earliest around 60 CE followed by Matthew around 80 CE, followed by Luke and John around 90. It’s also important to note that these dates can range from 10 years before to 10+years after. What we do is that it’s not first-generation Christians writing the Gospels.
  2. Some, but not all, and probably Matthew’s audience, believed that Jesus would return within their lifetimes.
  3. This parable is unique to Matthew. Keep in mind that Matthew emphasizes judgment more so than other Gospels.

There’s a lot of sorting of people in Matthew (think back to the parables about the wheat and the weeds). This parable does the same thing. It separates the prepared from the unprepared, the foolish from the wise.

Both sets of bridesmaids fall asleep- they should have remained awake the entire time they were waiting. One set has enough oil for their lamps and the other do not. They must go into town to find more oil and by the time they return they are too late.

It’s important that we don’t read too much into or out of this parable. At its core, it’s about being prepared for Jesus’ return. What does that mean for us as, generations removed from the Matthew’s original audience? How can we prepare for Christ’s return? Lutherans aren’t known for their theology on the rapture. As far as I know, none of us are interpreting world events as signs of Christ’s coming. So, what do we do? Faith is gift, so we can’t try to earn our salvation as we wait. We believe that we are simultaneously saint and sinner, so we can’t work for perfection. Don’t give up hope, Lutherans are not a lost cause when it comes to waiting for Christ’s return. We can continue to trust that Christ died for us, that the promises of our baptisms are true now and for eternity, and to our best to love God and one another.  

We’ll have more apocalyptic readings in our future, but we’ll work through them together. And we will get through this crisis together. Amen.