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Failure of the Church to get the balance of the faith/works issue right (Part 2)

11/05/2014

What did Jesus tell his disciples that we, the Church, need desperately to know and focus on today?

Think about this for a moment. Jesus knows his final moments with the disciples are just a few hours away. He is running out of time to impress upon them all they need to know. So, he takes them up to the Mount of Olives, sits down with them and answers their questions about him, the future, and where are things going from this point forward. At the end of the question and answer time (found it Matthew 24), he brings that discussion to a close with this warning.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

He then proceeds to tell his disciples what it means to be prepared, by sharing with them two parables and a future events story. He used these three narratives to teach what they, and we, desperately need to know.
If read, and understood, in order the answer to the problem, presented in part one of this series, will be answered. “Has the Church failed to get the faith/works issue right, and thereby failed to thrive?
The first parable is the foundation for the other two. Without it, the other two are worthless babble. As we grapple to understand the meaning of the first parable, I think it would help to consider a bit of historical background, to which the disciples would have comfortably understood.
The wedding traditions of the time revolved around a set pattern of steps. First, when a man decided to get married, and had a girl in mind, he would meet with her and her father to discuss a proposal of marriage. At that time the man would offer the father a bride price, which was what he was offering to her parents for the time, money, and effort they put into raising her and preparing her to be a wife. Once the price was agreed upon, the groom-to-be would offer the young woman a cup of wine. Drinking that cup of wine was her acceptance of the marriage covenant. Taking the cup was her way of saying, “Yes, I will be your bride.”
The girl, now legally bound to the man, would go back to live with her parents until the groom had prepared a place for her. He would not only prepare a home, but also a bridal chamber. The bridal chamber was usually prepared in his father’s house. Only after it had been prepared to his father’s approval, could he go and collect his bride.
Traditionally, the groom would come to collect his bride late at night, and without advanced warning. He and his male friends would make a lot of racket as they proceeded through the street to the bride’s house. The bride and her bridesmaids would be gathered and taken to the wedding banquet, where there would be much feasting and celebrating.
Consider this as you read the first parable, Matthew 25:1-13, and come back for the next section of this discussion.
Until then, may God bless you,
M

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