Lord, Keep Us Mindful of our Triumph! Matt 25:1-13, Nov 19, 2017
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. The (wise) virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (This is the Word of the Lord) Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God our Father, and from Jesus Christ, our returning Savior who makes you his triumph saint, dear fellow Redeemed saints.
Two weeks ago, 26 Christians from the ages of 5 to 72 years old were killed going to worship in God’s house in Texas. God reminds us in these Last Days, with the love of most growing cold, that Christians and our Christian faith is under attack. We are still living in the Church Militant. We are in a war, a spiritual war. But for those 26 Christ trusting Christians, their war is over. Death transformed them into the Church Triumphant!
In this Church season of the End Times, our God comforts us, his believing saints with the knowledge of the Last Day. When Jesus returns to judge every person who ever lived. Then Jesus will separate all humanity into two groups, sheep and goats. Christ will judge all people based on faith in him. All unbelieving goats will be sent to hell along with Satan and his fallen angels. But all believers will be sent triumphantly to eternal life in heaven. Today I ask, are you prepared?
Jesus gives us this parable, an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus says, “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” The story is of 10 bridesmaids accompanying the bride. They are all waiting for the Groom to return to begin the wedding feast. The parable is based on the Jewish marriage customs of Jesus’ day. After a religious ceremony of promise, which legally bound the couple together as man and wife, the bridegroom would leave sometimes for weeks or months to prepare a place for his family. Then he would return to bring his bride to their new home. The bride’s attendants would meet the groom and escort them. They took their lamps to light the way for the grand occasion. The heavenly meaning: the Church is the Bride of Christ. The 10 virgins are Christians. Christ has wooed and won the Bride by the gospel of his death and resurrection. The Church is waiting for our Groom, Jesus Christ to return to take us home to heaven.
Jesus tells us in the story that the virgins took their lamps to wait for the groom to return. Jesus says, “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, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.” Jesus puts Christians into two camps, the wise and the foolish. The wise were prepared to wait for the Bridegroom, bringing extra oil for their lamps. But the foolish didn’t bring any. Jesus defines the spiritually foolish as “everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” (Mt 7:26) Whoever does not listen and do what Christ’s says, to believe him and to trust his promises is a foolish person. On the contrary, a wise Christian hear Jesus. We listen to him. We believe him. We obey Christ. Our Savior says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Mt 6:24) Be wise! Listen to Christ!
The foolish are NOT prepared for the Lord. Some of them are perhaps like those in the parable of the sower and the seed. Those Christian who believe for a short while but in time of temptation fall away. Perhaps some of them are the lukewarm Christians who attend church only out of habit. They foolish don’t read their Bibles. They rarely attend worship. They rarely receive the Lord’s Supper. In short, their faith is not strengthened by the gospel. Their faith flickers and may go out like a lamp without oil. How foolish!
Dear Friends, be wise and listen to what our God is telling you. It’s been two thousand years since Christ spoke these words. Jesus says, “The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.” Since Christ’s return has been so long, many Christians have fallen asleep. We still don’t know exactly when Christ our KING will return in the clouds. Yet, Jesus tells us, “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Lk 12:40)
At the least expected time, “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” With the love of most growing cold, the Bridegroom of the Church returns in a twinkling of an eye and the last trumpet blast. The sleeping virgins are awakened by the call “Here’s the bridegroom!” There is no longer time to prepare. Likewise, the Lord Jesus will return.
Jesus said, “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.” The five foolish virgins find out that they are not prepared, they discovered their lack of oil. Afraid and ashamed, they want some of the oil from the wise virgins. The wise cannot share their oil. Likewise, each person must believe for himself. A wife cannot give her faith to her husband. Parents cannot believe for their children. If we are going to help them, we must help them now, share the gospel before the Bridegroom comes. Share Christ. Share the gospel. Invited others to our worship. Read your Bibles at home. Cling to God’s Word. Be comforted by his sacraments. Now is the time of grace.
Jesus says, “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.” The five foolish virgins went to buy oil. The five wise enter the eternal “wedding banquet.” The five wise are with their beloved bridegroom, in eternal celebration. This is what will happen to all true believers on the Last Day. Peter says that believers “will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:11). When we are known by God, we belong to him and he gives you everything that is his. Earthly troubles like our struggle with sin and our fear of death are temporary. But our coming triumph is eternal. God tells us in our first lesson, “My servant David (Jesus) will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Eze 37:24,27) Because of our saving faith in Christ, our name is triumphantly written in the Book of Life. For the spiritually wise saints, it will be a day of triumph! We will triumphantly dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
But not the foolish, “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.” The doors of heaven are shut. The foolish are not admitted to the marriage feast of the Lamb. Sadly, the Lord says he doesn’t know them. No saving faith in Christ, means no entrance into his eternal glory. For the foolish, it will be a day of sorrow.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Lack of preparation is unforgiveable. We often like to put off many things. We like to procrastinate. When comes to your faith, your salvation, don’t! Do not listen to the cries of the world saying there is do Judgment Day. Don’t listen to your flesh which seems to find something more important than your Savior and your faith in your Redeemer. Do not listen to lies of Satan who tries to rock you into spiritual slumber. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet 5:8) Jesus wants us to be the waiting Church. The Church watches for our Savior, crying, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” Don’t let your hearts grow drowsy because the bridegroom seems to be taking so long. We wait as Christ saves more souls with the gospel. Christ ask what good is it if a person gains the whole world, and yet forfeits his soul?
Jesus is returning. Jesus lived for you. He alone died for you being unprepared. Christ atoned for your sin of being spiritually foolish. His triumphant resurrection is your triumphant resurrection. Jesus now clothes you with his holiness, making you a saint. Jesus, your Bridegroom is returning to take you, his Bride to the wedding feast of heaven. God has still given us time to prepare. Keep watch. Be wise and keep the oil in your lamps. Keep faith of your hearts filled with Christ. Be wise. Stay in God’s Word. Come often to God’s house so that your Savior can prepare you with his Word and sacrament. Be wise.
Keep watch since you do not know when Christ will return to take you from the Church Militant to the Church triumph! Dearly beloved saint, John writes of your triumph in Revelation, “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches [symbol of victory] in their hands. … “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'” (Rev 7:12-17) Jesus wants us to be prepared for his coming, prepared with the oil of faith, which trusts him alone for our salvation. In Christ, be wise. Be prepared for his return by listening to his Word. We pray. Lord, Keep Us Mindful of our Triumph! To your glory! Amen.
May the Holy Spirit “strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” (1Thess 3:13) Amen.
Lord, Keep Us Mindful of our Triumph! Matt 25:1-13, Nov 19, 2017