2265) Whose Parable? (part two of two)

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Jesus Teaching by the Sea, James Tissot  (1836-1902)


     (…continued)  Jesus is saying some very important things here.  He is saying that our eternal destiny is in the hands of someone who can hold the door open for us, or, who can close the door.  Who is that someone?  Well, it is Jesus, of course.  He is telling the parable, he is the bridegroom, and he is the one who opens, and closes the door.

     We might ask, “Would Jesus ever close the door on anyone?”  Well, the obvious answer in the parable is YES, he could.  That is what the parable clearly says.  We might think of all sorts of theological principles and philosophical reasons why Jesus should never close the door on anyone and always leave it open for everyone.  But the fact remains, the door is his to open and his to close, and he is telling us here that it is for us to take heed and to pay attention.  The parable ends with these words: “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

     Here we must remember that this is just a short parable.  It does not say everything about every subject.  It is just briefly illustrating a couple of points.  There is the whole rest of the Bible to flesh out all the other meanings and consider the many questions that this parable might raise.  But this much is clear:  “The kingdom heaven is wonderful.  It is like a great wedding feast.  But at the end of your life, do not find yourself unprepared, or the door will be closed to you.”

     What does it means to be unprepared for heaven, and what we can do to prepare ourselves?  We are not told that in this brief parable, but we learn that in other places, in some of the other words of Jesus.  Jesus said “Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  It can be as simple as that.  But what does it all mean to believe in Jesus?  Well, keep reading.  One thing at a time, and for now, the message of this parable is clear– don’t be so foolish as to ignore the plain and simple offer of Jesus for eternal life.  For if you are not prepared and if you insist on saying ‘no’ to him and ignoring him, the door will one day be closed to you.

   There are other meanings we can find here.  We might ask why the wise bridesmaids did not share their oil.  Well, faith is an individual thing, you cannot have faith for another.  Or we might ask, why is the bridegroom late?  But then we might just as well ask, do you want to meet Jesus right now?  Do you want to die right now?  Because that is the time illustrated in the parable by the return of the bridegroom.  For now, we are still in the in between time, and until Jesus returns to end the world, or to take us home as individuals, it is for us to be ready.  Again, verse 13– “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

     Where then is the good news in this parable?  Is it only a message of warning and judgement?  Of course not.  The message is unpleasant only for those who say no to Jesus.  The message in the rest of the parable is that heaven is wonderful– like a wedding feast that goes on forever.  What’s more, you are invited.  Everyone is invited, Jesus is the host, and by his death and resurrection he has paid the way for you.  Most importantly of all, the door is not yet closed.  The door is still wide open.  Why would we want to focus on the closed door part of the parable, when the most important message is that for all who hear the parable, the door is still open?

     To object to the message of this parable is to say to Jesus, “Yes Lord, we like your invitation and we want what you offer, but we don’t like the terms.  We want to call the shots and we are quite disappointed that you insist on telling us what we have to do.”  That is what we are saying when we want to redo the parable, and make it more to our liking.  But we don’t get to do that.

     It is Jesus who is telling the parable and he is the host.   It is his parable and his truth, and he has issued us a tremendous invitation.  It is for us to receive it with faith and gratitude and obedience, not with second guesses and objections.  We need not look at the closed door—not if we have by faith accepted the invitation of Jesus.   For then we are welcomed by him to come into his heavenly home through the wide open door.


John 3:16-17  —  (Jesus said), “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Revelation 3:7b-8  —  These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.  What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.  I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

I Peter 3:9-10  — The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.


Heavenly Father, your Son has promised that he is preparing a place for us.  Prepare us also for that place in your home.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.