When Jesus comes back, or if we die first, we want to be ready to meet Him. Since we don’t know the day or hour we will meet Him, we can’t wait until the last-minute to prepare. Not only would this be unwise, but it would also run counter to the kind of relationship our Savior wants to have with us. Jesus wants us to be enthusiastic about His return, and He wants our anticipation to define how we live in the meantime.
Near the end of Jesus’ ministry, His disciples asked Him to further define His second coming and the end of the age (Matthew 24:3). In response Jesus told a parable about ten virgins who were waiting for a bridegroom to arrive at his wedding feast (Matthew 25:1-13). The bridegroom was delayed and the virgins became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, the announcement finally came that the bridegroom was coming, and the virgins woke up. Five of them, who had wisely stocked up on oil, trimmed their lamps, but the other five were foolishly unprepared. The foolish virgins begged the five wise virgins to share their oil, and when they refused they were forced to go buy their own. While they were gone the bridegroom came and the five wise virgins went into the wedding feast with him. When the five foolish virgins returned they found the door shut. They shouted out, “Sir, Sir, open the door for us!” But the answer came, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.” Jesus summed up His parable with these words: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:12-13).
You may be aware there is a divergence of opinion on how this parable should be interpreted in reference to one’s personal salvation. The discussion centers on the spiritual state of the five foolish virgins. Do they represent believers who once loved Jesus, but missed out on the wedding feast because they fell away at the final hour? Or are they casual spectators who didn’t really have a relationship with Jesus in the first place?
These are important questions, but I ask that you allow me to set them aside for the purpose of focusing on one truth everyone can agree on: when we see Jesus face-to-face, we must be ready. If we aren’t where we need to be to enter His feast, we need to change course immediately, while there is time.
There are two mistakes we can make as we wait. One is to be so consumed by our thoughts of heaven we live as if earth doesn’t matter. The other is to be so preoccupied with our lives on earth we live as if heaven doesn’t matter. Both philosophies will rob of us the joy Jesus wants us to have as we journey with Him.
Yes, the Lord wants us to be excited about heaven and the place He is preparing for us there, but He also wants us to be fully engaged in His mission while we are here. As well, while we wait and work the Father expects us to enjoy the world He has made and the loved ones He has placed in our lives. In marital terms, He wants our betrothal to be a reflection of the celebration to come.