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Sermon about the parable of the ten virgins
(an internetsermon 26.11. 2018)
We read in Matthew 25:1-13:
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
This parable has been speculated around throughout the church history, in countless sermons and bible expositions. It has been a core text in the popular idea of the second coming of Jesus. It has often been interpreted as an allegory of what will happen at the second coming of Jesus in the end times. The five foolish virgins have been likened to sleeping, worldly christians, and the five wise virgins to the « bride », the congregation of the saints, the true church. That the bridegroom is coming in the parable, has often been interpreted as that Jesus will come to bring home his « bride », the so called « rapture ». To have oil in one’s lamps has often been interpreted as having the Holy Spirit living in one’s heart, what persons in the true church of Christ have, according to many. To not have oil, is to be a « worldly », lukewarm christian, who has fallen asleep spiritually in the end times. They will not be taken home in the « rapture », but be left behind, so that they will experience the persecution of the christians by Antichrist (so according to the pretribulationists, see the wikipedia-article about the rapture). This is to not be let into the wedding banquet, according to them.
You understand that this is mythology. This won’t happen literally. But the second coming of Jesus will happen, though in a form very few christians had expected. The second coming of Jesus is a symbol that I have tried to understand in my little writing « En ateists tolkning av Jesu återkomst » (2018) (« An atheist’s interpretation of the second coming of Jesus », 2018). Shortly it is about that the second coming of Jesus is the return of Nature and the « paradise man » (Jesus is an archetype) after civilization, Babylon, has collapsed. Maybe the first christians suspected something like this, and clothed it in symbolical, mythological clothes.
Passionate christians in all ages have prophecied fervently about a mythological doomsday, and a mythological second coming of Jesus, where we are magically raptured up into the skies to celebrate the wedding of the Lamb with transformed bodies, together with Jesus and the saints. And the second coming would always happen during their own lifetime.
But the strange and tragic fact is, that when the real doomsday, the doomsday of Nature, comes, like it is coming in our time in the form of the slow destruction of our life conditions, then almost all who call themselves christians, sleep. Sleep as stocks. Even those who have the name of being passionate, burning. And one do not even speak about this doomsday as the true doomsday. One goes on to speak about the mythological doomsday as the real doomsday. What happens in nature passes almost unnoticed by, one sees this figuring in the margins as « the signs of the time » that the mythological doomsday is approaching. The doomsday of Nature is painted over by a thick layer of literally interpreted mythology. Do one awaken and revise one’s theology about the second coming of Jesus and the doomsday ? Almost never.
Those who understand what’s happening, those who keep watch with oil in their lamps, almost never call themselves christians. They are activists and rebels of different kinds, who not seldom risk imprisonment and compulsory psychiatric treatment for their burning commitment. Exactly like the first christians risked persecution.
In the same way as with doomsday, so is it with the second coming of Jesus. One paints over the return of the archetype Jesus among men, with a thick layer of literally interpreted mythology. Will the christians notice when the « paradise man » returns ? I don’t think so. They will declare them as heretics, as always. Consider them as « pagans », as blasphemers. Persecute them with the help of guards and psychiatry, not least. Because paradise man is the nature man, not any mythological being with white clothes and a gloria around the head.
Jesus in our times seldom calls himself a christian. Unfortunately, you christians. Jesus in the bible wasn’t even a christian, but a jew, altogether jewish in his theology. Jesus in our time hasn’t power and glory, hasn’t white clothes. He has filthy clothes, broken clothes, and he sometimes stinks. He begs, he has no money. He is homeless. He balances on the thin line between captivity and freezing to his hands and feet to death a cold winter night. He comes too late to the services. He falls asleep at the services. The christians will not recognize him. Because he is not one single person. As long as the christians wait for that one single person, they will not recognize Jesus in our time. Because Jesus is contextual, not out of context. And the message of Jesus in our time sounds like blasphemy to the ears of the christian fundamentalists. Unfortunately, so far away they have come from the Jesus of the original church.
What is it to not be let into the wedding banquet, because one had no oil ? It is to not be able to recognize Jesus when « he » comes. One recognizes him if one keeps watch. And he will come when society has become so gaga and broken in the middle of its control mentality, that Jesus dares to show himself. Did he dare to show himself in the Middle Ages with its inquisition ? I don’t think so. Does he dare to show himself in our time ? Barely that either. We have psychiatry. He comes when he dares to show himself. So simple it is. Until then he has to hide in the warm bosom of Nature. And now I speak the language of mythology.
I think he dares to show himself when the civilization collapses. Then police, guards and psychiatry loose their worst grip, finally, probably. The dams of goodness burst, and the Holy Spirit is poured out over the earth. The last big revival, which will never end. Which many old pentecostals go and wait for, still. Those who enter the wedding banquet when Jesus returns, are just those who receives « him » first, who can rejoice first of all because they recognize « him ». The rest come later. No one is damned and lost forever. And those who do not recognize him at once, and do not enter the wedding banquet when he comes, they do not enter any great tribulation, where Antichrist will persecute them. We live right now in the great tribulation. And it has gone on for a long time. It is those at the bottom who notice this, not the rich and the well-off.
What could the cry « Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ », be ? What could it be interpreted as ? Maybe something in the « end times » that will wake us up. For me it was a few dozen of insects in the prison cell of Serbia 2010 who helped me to interpret the book of Revelation during a « forest translation » of it to english that I worked with during my stay in the prison. The insects were angels who « blew in the trumpet », exactly like the angels in the Revelation. « The last trumpet « , that the Bible talks about. I « woke up » there and then (entered my maybe strongest spiritual ecstasy ever), the core of my theological « animalism » was born there (as a « forest interpretation » of the fourth chapter of the Revelation). After a long time of slow awakening this was the climax.