How does the story end? – Reflection for 12 November 2017
I often try to avoid talking about the day when Jesus returns. It is not that I don’t look forward to that great and glorious day, nor is it because I am uncertain or doubtful that Jesus will return. I avoid talking about that day because of all the weird things that other people have said. Like a movie trailer, the Bible gives us just enough information for us to want to see the full picture, and as with a movie trailer, we respond with speculation and theories to fill in the blanks.
Unfortunately, my frustration with the speculation sometimes keeps me from talking about the things we are certain about. I miss out on the opportunity to talk about the hope of the resurrection. Paul instructs us to encourage one another with these words. I also miss out on the opportunity to talk about the judgement that will occur on that last day.
This week’s gospel begins the first of three parables that Jesus uses to prepare us for that day. As we spend these last three weeks before Advent in the 25th chapter of Matthew, I invite you to read these three parables together. As you read about the maidens awaiting the bridegroom, the servants charged with the masters treasure, and those who care for the helpless, consider what it means to know Christ and to be known by Him. Consider as well how joyous an occasion it will be to see the bridegroom come, to hear the words “well done good and faithful servant,” and to accept the invitation of Christ to come into His Kingdom.
When I am truly honest, I admit that I avoid talking about the return of Christ because I don’t like to consider that some people are shut out of the glory. As long as I avoid thinking about this, I can avoid praying for those who are careless and forget to bring extra oil and for those who hide their gifts out of fear and misunderstanding. Perhaps I can even avoid thinking about how easy it is to keep God safely inside the church so that He doesn’t interfere with my week. As long as I can avoid thinking about the judgement on that last day, I can avoid introducing people to Jesus so that they might come to know Him.
On second thought, Matthew 25 isn’t really a very good movie trailer since it gives away the ending. As you read this chapter and we hear it read over the next three weeks, rejoice in the ways you know Jesus, consider the ways in which you would like to know Him more, and think about the people in your life who might not know Him. How might you pray for them? How might God use you to answer that prayer?