But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Look, the groom! Come out to meet him.’ “Then all those bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. But the foolish bridesmaids said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps have gone out.’
“But the wise bridesmaids replied, ‘No, because if we share with you, there won’t be enough for our lamps and yours. We have a better idea. You go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were gone to buy oil, the groom came. Those who were ready went with him into the wedding. Then the door was shut.
“Later the other bridesmaids came and said, ‘Lord, lord, open the door for us.’
“But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
“Not everybody who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. On the Judgment Day, many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name and expel demons in your name and do lots of miracles in your name?’ Then I’ll tell them, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you people who do wrong.’
-Matthew 25:6-12, 7:21-3
My dad was called up to be checked out, to see if he would be eligible to serve in the Korean War, in the 1950’s. The young man behind him in line asked my dad if he had an extra pair of underwear, because the fellow was not wearing any and was about to be given a physical examination. Sometimes, we are not ready for what is about to happen to us. Christians do not wear special underwear, but there is the issue of readiness to meet the Lord. Are you ready? Are you prepared?
In the parable of the bridesmaids, all of them started with lamps. They all got tired and were susceptible to dozing off. God understands that humans need sleep. But there was a difference between the two groups of five and five. One group, the wise group, had their lamps and had containers of oil. While the second group only had their lamps.
When the call came that the bridegroom was coming, it was time to light up your lamp and greet him. But, that second group, who were foolish, had no oil. It was “ready or not” time. The ones lacking oil asked the wise ones with oil if they could have some and were told, “no”. There was not enough to share. They suggested that they go buy some; but it was too late.
Earlier in Matthew, Jesus says that there will be religious people and charismatic people who don’t make it on judgement day. The ones who do make it are the ones who do the will of the Father. Apparently, a person can say, “Lord, Lord”, and not make it. Jesus is saying that it is not what you say, but what you do. We are not saved by works, but saved people do the will of the Father, which includes good works, but is about a whole righteous life. It’s a Christ life.
Also, Jesus says that doing spectacular things in his name does not mean you’ll make it. There are people in ministry and who do ministry that is prophetic and supernatural, who are not in alignment with God. Like the ‘Lord, Lord’ people who can parrot words, they are not living in relationship with the Father.
These folks are not disciples. They do not have an intimate working relationship with God. There are people who are Christian in-name-only. Real Christians are Christians 24-7 and have an ongoing relationship with God that is transforming their life unto Christ-likeness.
The oil in the parable of the bridesmaids symbolizes the anointing from God. Jesus is The Anointed One. That is what Christ means. Your lamp is your heart, burning for the Lord, and burning from the Lord. You are the light of the world. We have that light because Jesus is the light. Are you letting it shine?
The way you keep your light going is to get more oil. The getting takes work. You won’t get more oil if you do nothing. You must go to the source, Jesus, and get more oil. Jesus is God’s Christ, God’s anointed one. You have to go to God and get more oil for your lamp. When you originally came to the light and got your light lit, there was oil to start; but it runs out and you must get more.
Here is the key. You must get your own oil. It is like the verse, “bear one another’s burdens, but each one must carry their own load”. That is what it was about when the bridesmaids that had oil would not share it. You must get your own. We can point the way and even help you get there, but you must buy your own oil. There is a price for each one to pay to get their own oil, and it is completely worth it.
It is called discipleship, walking before the Father; and living out your life in Christ. That is the saved life. That is the life of the one who has salvation.
…the essence of discipleship, and hence the participation in the kingdom is found not in words, nor in religiosity, nor even in the performance of spectacular deeds in the name of Jesus, but only in the manifestation of true righteousness – i.e., the doing of the will of the Father as now interpreted through the teach of Jesus. Relationship with Jesus is thus impossible apart from doing the will of God… Religion can never take the place of actual obedience to the teaching of Jesus… At the same time, the larger framework of grace should not be forgotten, nor the reality of forgiveness available to disciples (Matt. 6:12). The seriousness of the ethical demand upon the disciples does not cancel out the priority or significance of grace manifested in Jesus and the kingdom. (Hagner, Matthew; pp. 188-9)
The way in is the way on. We are saved by grace and we keep saved by grace. How do we get more oil, get anointing? Grace. How do we live out the Christian life? Grace. How do we walk with God? Grace. It is all grace. Grace calls us to Jesus and grace empowers us to be like Jesus.
To be ready for anything, especially for when the Lord comes; we need a life of grace. We receive grace and walk in grace and give grace. We are in a grace relationship. Upgrades of more grace are available if your life is not working, but you have to pursue the relationship. You have to do something. You can’t get someone else’s anointing nor fake it with a good vocabulary.