Matthew 25:1-6 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'
In Jesus time, the best feast there was, was a wedding feast, imagine something like our thanksgiving that goes on for a whole week. What makes it even more important, was that they did not have feasts like we have very often, they were poor, they might only eat a little meat 3 or 4 times a year. In the OT Isaiah is the one who talks about heaven as a never ending wedding feast, lots of good food and drink, free for all. It was such a vivid picture, people were still thinking of in in Jesus day. Jesus told other parables about wedding feasts, in one, the people are too busy to come, because a wedding feast is so special, so important, it was hard to imagine anything that was more important. Its important that you know just how special the occasion was, then you can better hear our parable. Our parable is about waiting, something we do not do very well.
Have you ever been told to do something in a certain amount of time? There are 2 types of people, some people do it right away, so they know it will be done, so they will be ready when it is time - I don't think they are born this way, I think they have been taught - they always do what needs to be done, and then they wait. The second type is probably more common, they always put things off to the last minute, sometimes they forget things, sometimes they are late, sometimes they are unprepared and also late.
Its like we are children, and our parents tell us to clean up our room, and they will be back to check in a half hour - since that is a long time, since we believe we can clean up quickly, we keep on playing, and when they return, we have not done our job - sometimes, to help us learn, our parents pick up all that has been left out, and take it away. So we learn to obey now, and not later, and we learn how important it is to be prepared, not just some times, but to be prepared all the time.
Jesus wants everyone to go to heaven, Jesus died so that everyone might have forgiveness of sins, Jesus did everything necessary to give us everything we need so that we can be saved and go to heaven. One of the things Jesus kept telling us, is to be prepared all the time.
Waiting is a hard thing to do, and waiting patiently is even harder, and being watchful, that is, not falling asleep even harder still. So the 10 maidens are waiting, and then they are sleeping, but someone woke and cried out, the bridegroom is coming, and they began to get ready, their lamps were small, and didn't hold much oil - 5 maidens were prepared, they brought oil, they were prepared to wait - 5 maidens brought no oil, and would not have enough to finish the journey, they went to get some, but they ended up arriving late, and because they were late, they didn't get to come in, they were supposed to be ready any time, but this time they weren't ready, and there were no second chances.
Jesus is king, he has conquered all our enemies, he have given us faith, he has given us the Holy Spirit, he has given us the Word and Sacraments - he has given us everything we need to be ready - he has even told us to be ready all the time, because he will come and take us to be with him in his kingdom. There is nothing more important that this salvation that gives us everlasting life, and yet, often it gets crowded out of our lives, by other things.
So how do we keep ready and watchful? The first thing, is that we do it now, not later. Now is a good day to return to Sunday School and Bible Class. Now is a good day to remember your baptism, and the new life you have been given in Jesus Christ. Now is a good day to remember that the blood of Jesus washes away all our sins. Now is a good day to be ready, and to wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ - and to be watchful, so that once we are ready, we can help others, so they too can be ready - and that's what the church is about. Because Jesus wants all people to be saved and come to heaven, Jesus has called us to tell the good news, to tell the story, to help people prepare, so that all might be saved. There is nothing more important than Jesus our Savior, and he is coming, so we use the gifts he has given us, so we remember how much we want to go to the great wedding feast with Jesus our Savior.