In the previous chapter Jesus has been talking about his second coming, telling the disciples that no-one knows when it will be, and therefore that they should keep watch. In this parable he is explaining how we can do that.
Keeping watch doesn’t mean we should live apprehensively or without any long-term goals, that kind of watchfulness is unsustainable and undermines the Church’s mission. Instead keeping watch is to do with our love for Christ himself. With echos from Chapter 7, Matthew is again highlighting Jesus’ teaching about real and false Christians. The ten virgins represent people who call themselves Christians. The difference between the wise and foolish virgins is that the wise ones love the bridegroom while the foolish do not, thinking only about themselves. Likewise the difference someone who is really a Christian and another person who merely wears the badge is their genuine love for Christ. What does it mean to love Christ? In the simplest sense, it means to love him for his love revealed at the cross, to honour him as Lord, and to desire to know him more personally. But, even more than that to love Christ is to desire to have his love in us. This means three things:
Firstly, it is to know the Father’s love for us as Jesus knew the Father’s love for him. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have the absolute certainty of God’s fatherly love for us in every situation?
Secondly, it is to be able to love God in return with the same love that Jesus loved the Father. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to return the Father’s love to him with all our heart, mind soul and strength, just like Jesus did at the cross.
Thirdly, it is also to be filled with the Holy Spirit like the Son, and so to overflow with God’s life-giving love to others. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see everyone through God’s eyes and to share his love with them by pouring out our lives in service to them?
It is this love that prepares us to meet Christ and prepares the world for his return, honouring him and his purposes in the world. Like the writer of Psalm 63, do you desire that love,? Do you desire to know the Father’s love, to return his love like the Son and to overflow with it to others in the power of the Holy Spirit?
In response to this amazing promise: a) We need to desire that love, understanding how amazing God’s gift of love in Christ. b) We need to confess to God when we don’t have it and cry out to him for it. c) We must take advantage of all the means God uses to pour that love into our hearts, scripture, prayer, fellowship, preaching and especially the Lord’s Supper. d) We must keep our lamps burning by obeying God in whatever way he has enabled us to. e) Each of us has to choose to love Jesus ourselves, not relying on other people’s actions or decisions, we must all stock our own lamps.