Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel lesson from Matthew 25 makes some statements which, at first, appear odd. For instance, why would someone with an oil lamp bring an extra bottle of oil for such brief use? Why wouldn’t it be possible to share resources? If this is a picture of reception into heavenly places, wouldn’t you expect all who came, and especially those who went to correct their error, to be admitted?
Let’s take those issues in order. The idea of a lamp, which we normally use here, isn’t altogether accurate. The people had lights. But the description sounds much more like a planned torchlight parade. The word can indicate a torch or a lamp. The fact that the torch would be extinguished, then trimmed, re-oiled, and re-lit makes perfect sense. And we do know that people would have torchlight parades for various occasions, including weddings. This makes the extra supply of oil perfectly natural. It is the kind of supply no normal person could forget.
What about sharing those resources? Again, if having extra oil for a torch was a perfectly normal piece of preparedness, it would naturally be infuriating to those who prepared adquately when confronted by others who didn’t care enough to make minimal plans. It’s like going to a restaurant and not having any money to pay for a meal. Asking others, possibly strangers, for help is not acceptable. You are sent home hungry and told to come back with money if you want to eat. Yes, certainly, Christians are to show charity. But they are not asked to simply supply everything for others who take no care and show no initiative. That’s different from caring for someone who couldn’t have resources.
This all makes the final situation perfectly plain. God receives those who have answered the call he put forth. We are called to come as repentant sinners, accepting the forgiveness and grace given by Jesus. If we come before God as repentant sinners but without the forgiveness and grace of Jesus, it is like trying to light a torch with no fuel. What we needed was readily available. Jesus stands ready to forgive all who are believing him. If we chose to do something in another way, we are sent away to make it work on our own. We miss the call of God.
Jesus calls all people to trust him and enter into his kingdom. We come equipped with his love, his grace, his forgiveness, all gifts from him. That’s the oil we use on the torch. May we ever shine in a glorious procession.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.