Moodys Great Sermons: 24 Discourses
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In an emergency, people in deep sleep require time to awaken—to get their wits about them. They are less likely than usual to remember where to look for things and more likely to make mistakes. Only thorough preparation can help a person faced with an urgent situation when awakened at midnight. The foolish bridesmaids, seeing that they do not have enough oil, ask the wise bridesmaids to share theirs, which the wise bridesmaids refuse to do v. We might think the wise bridesmaids to be acting selfishly, but they are instead acting wisely. If their share their oil it will quickly be gone, and the bridegroom will have no light for his wedding party.
It is far better that they use five torches to illuminate the pathway for the entire distance than to use ten torches at the beginning and thereby to risk having to walk in darkness at the end—an unimaginable breach of wedding protocol. The wise bridesmaids are not mean-spirited. They do not criticize the foolish bridesmaids for being unprepared, but instead suggest a remedy—go to the store and buy more oil—a real possibility. This wedding is the event of the week for this village. The foolish bridesmaids can expect neighbors to do everything possible to respond to their pleas for help.
Jesus does not say whether they succeeded in purchasing oil, but it is quite possible that they did. What good is their oil now that the procession is finished? The foolish bridesmaids almost ruined everything—an offense beyond calculation—an insult beyond reckoning. The Son of God has come from heaven to live among us and to die on our behalf. He has provided us with the witness of scripture and countless faithful disciples.
He has offered us the Spirit to inspire, guide, and direct our lives. He has given us a lifetime to get to know him. If we reject him, we can expect the door to be closed and locked at the end. It is devastating to be rejected by the bridegroom, because his word is final. The rejection is made even worse by his reputation for love and generosity. It would have been so easy to please him! Why did they not do so! Why do we not do so!
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Jesus makes it clear that he has expectations regarding our behavior—standards that we must take seriously—obedience to which we must aspire. In this parable, he also makes it clear that there is a time for repentance and a time when repentance will be too late. When the bridegroom comes, it will be too late to borrow oil—too late to ask for help—too late to pray—too late to read the Bible—too late for baptism—too late to get ready. When the door closes, it will be too late to plead for mercy. It will matter not how we weep and wail and gnash our teeth—the door will remain tightly shut.
Once Christ has come, there will be no further opportunity to prepare. Those who are ready will be included, and those who are not ready will be excluded. We should keep in mind that death is as final as the Second Coming—and as unpredictable. For some people, death comes swiftly and unexpectedly in the prime of life. Was it not necessary that the Messiah" suffer these things and enter into his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets he explained to them that which pertained to himself in all the scriptures.
Throughout the early history of the Church the Old Testament was the chief means of proving the truth of the claims of Christianity. The opening verses of Acts 17 show Paul arguing with the Jews of Thessalonica, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead. One of the great periods of crisis in the growing Church was experienced during the extension of the Gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles. The inherent universality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ had broken the narrow, nationalistic confines of Israel as an ethnic people of God and became applicable to all nations from which the new spiritual people of God were to be drawn.
The same term translated "nations" in Mark is frequently translated "Gentiles" throughout the New Testament. In making this statement in Mark and Matthew , Jesus was viewing the nations in contrast with Israel. The term nations, then, is not to be interpreted in an exhaustive sense i. It was to be expected that the Gospel would be proclaimed to Israel; what was totally unexpected, and, therefore in need of confirmation from the Old Testament, was the extension of the Gospel to all nations.
This is the "mystery" of which Paul speaks in Ephesians , and which he treats at length elsewhere in the New Testament cf. Acts , Rom. It is now appropriate to ask ourselves whether or not this saying of Jesus has been fulfilled. To paraphrase Luke , Have repentance and for.
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In order to answer this question properly, the accounts of all three Synoptic gospels must be taken into consideration. In dealing with such passages as the Olivet Discourse of Jesus in Mark 13 and parallels, we are struck with both the similarities and differences between the three accounts.
Although these Gospels all contain the words of our Lord, the very fact that there are three quite similar accounts should cause us to reflect on the reasons for the differences. The obvious answer is that each of the Gospels, while written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was yet written with a different purpose in mind, and perhaps for a particular audience. In his reproduction of the original discourse of Jesus, Mark has retained the obscurity and ambiguity that is inherent in the nature of prophecy, and Jesus at this point was speaking as a prophet.
Matthew, on the other hand, exhibits an interest in events that immediately precede the consummation of the age, and it is particularily this aspect of the teaching of Jesus that interests him. An example of this Matthaean emphasis is the use of the word parousia. Luke tends to emphasize the more immediate historical events that were predicted by Jesus. While Matthew and Mark speak of an enigmatical "abomination of desolation," Luke clearly refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.
Introduction to the Discourse (24:1-3)
The proper interpretation of Mark can be arrived at if we allow the emphases of both Matthew and Luke to aid our interpretation. Mark actually contains two aspects that need fulfillment, one of which has been fulfilled, while the other still waits for a future fulfillment. From the perspective of the disciples who heard the Olivet Discourse, these two aspects of the near future and the distant future were all but indistinguishable from each other.
The aspect that has been fulfilled. Although Luke does not parallel Mark in his account of the Olivet Discourse, we have seen above that he does base the divine necessity of world evangelization on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy Luke In Acts , before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Luke informs us that "there were dwelling in Jerusalem, Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.
In this respect the view of Henry Afford is quite correct; there is a sense in which the prediction of Jesus in Mark and Matthew was fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.
Acts The aspect that awaits fulfillment. Matthew, on the other hand, emphasizes the nearness of the parousia of Jesus to the completion of the evangelical task of the Church, for as soon as he has said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations," he adds, "and then the end will come.
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