The Bright Path to Heaven

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten young women took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. -Matthew 25:1-2

Dear members and friends,

Each Gospel has its own focus and theme. In Matthew, Jesus opens his ministry with this proclamation: “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven has come near.” (4:17) Interestingly, this exact phrase was proclaimed earlier by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2.  Thus, the theme and focus of Matthew is the Kingdom of Heaven. The Greek word for Heaven in Matthew is Ouranos, which means “air, heaven or sky.” Thus, the Kingdom of Heaven is meant to describe and indicate the existence and presence of a different realm, which is not the physical kingdom on earth. One interesting aspect in the English translation is the use of the preposition “of,” because in Hebrew, there is no such word. According to an English dictionary, “of” could be used on 10 different occasions. I believe the meaning in the context of the Kingdom of Heaven is, “indicating an association between two entities, typically one of belonging.” 

In Matthew, Jesus teaches a series of parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. One of them is in Matthew 25, known as the Ten Virgins. The parable begins, “Ten young women took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.” The main key word here is “lamp.” It is obvious that the purpose of carrying a lamp is to lighten darkness. However, Jesus says, “Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.” The five were called foolish because they did not bring oil for their lamp, while the other five were called wise because they brought oil. You may argue that the parable does not make sense because no one would do such a stupid thing as carry a lamp without fuel to light it! Indeed, the heart of Jesus’ teaching is that entering the kingdom of God could be achieved by doing something that is very obvious, such as bringing oil for the lamp. So what could be the undeniably obvious thing for us to enter Heaven? According to Jesus, it is all about how we love both ourselves and others. The act of loving is the most essential because love is life itself. How should we love? In Matthew 11:29, Jesus teaches, “I am gentle and humble in heart.”  

My brothers and sisters in God, let us acknowledge the truth that loving ourselves is important, and loving others is also important. Yet, what is truly important is to have a gentle and humble heart. 

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee