Sermon Recording for 23rd Sunday after Pentecost – November 8, 2020

 

+ 23rd Sunday after Pentecost – November 8th, 2020 +

Series A: Amos 5:18-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Here Comes the Bridegroom”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

In WW II British soldiers had a saying, “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.” In other words…be prepared. Good advice in wartime. Or any time, really. Especially as we hear Jesus’ end times parables these last three Sundays of the church year.

 

“Watch therefore,” Jesus says at the end of this parable, “for you know neither the day nor the hour.” In other words, be prepared.

 

Here in Matthew 25, in this parable, Jesus is preparing us for his arrival on the Last Day. Everything in this parable – the wise and foolish virgins, the oil, the lamps, the bridegroom, the wedding feast – it all points to this: be ready for Jesus our Bridegroom. He will come.

 

Unlike Jesus’ other parables, this story begins not in the present, but the future. The reign of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Will be. Future tense.

 

Jesus is revealing that his kingdom – or rather his reign – is a verb, an action. The reign of God is all of God’s royal deeds, his reigning work seen most clearly in Jesus birth, life, death, resurrection, and his coming again to call us into the wedding feast, the eternal marriage supper of the Lamb.

Jesus is revealing that when he comes to reign in all his fullness on the Last Day, that it will be like this story. The Bridegroom will arrive. Jesus will come again. He may delay. But he’ll be there. And when he does arrive, some will be prepared, and sadly, some will not.

 

Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  Wise and foolish is the Old Testament way of saying “believing” and ‘unbelieving.” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” The wise in Proverbs live in and follow YHWH’s word and ways. The fool does not. The wise live in the wisdom of faith that trusts in the foolishness of God in Christ crucified. The fool lives in the wisdom of the world. The wise lives in the present with an eye to the future. The fool only looks myopically, foolishly at the now.

 

These 10 virgins – sort of like bridesmaids – had one job. To honor and accompany the bridegroom to the wedding feast with light and joy and celebration. to wait. Watch. And be prepared for anything.

 

Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 

 

Like good girl scouts, the five wise virgins were prepared. And it’s a good thing too. Because the bridegroom was delayed. No, he didn’t have cold feet. You see, God is never in a rush to judgment. In the days of Noah, God waited over 100 years before sending the flood. In Egypt God sent 10 plagues before the death of the firstborn. In Israel God sent prophet after prophet to his people warning them of their coming exile. The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. God desires not the death of the wicked but that they turn and live. God is compassionate. Longsuffering. Desiring repentance and forgiveness. So, the bridegroom delays.

 

But one day, the Bridegroom will come. The door of the ark was shut. The firstborn of Egypt died. Israel went into exile.

 

At midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’  Get your lamps. Trim the wicks. Pour some oil. Here comes the Bridegroom! And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 

 

Now, don’t think those five wise gals were being rude. Remember their job. Honor the bridegroom on his way to the wedding feast. Nothing was more important. The five wise virgins were prepared. The foolish ones were not. By the time they could buy oil, if they found any at all, it was too late. The bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the foolish virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 

 

The sad thing about these foolish virgins is that they were invited to the wedding feast. They had a place at the table with their name on it. But they were not ready for the bridegroom’s coming. They failed to know the bridegroom and prepare for him rightly. He invited them, but now He does not know them. ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

 

Jesus’ parable is a warning. Like those 10 virgins, we find ourselves living in the delay. Jesus the Bridegroom is delayed. This time of delay is a time of preparation. Waiting. Watching. Living in and receiving God’s gifts of repentance. Forgiveness. Faith in Christ. Love for others. We don’t know when Jesus will return, but the Bridegroom will come. And, as in the days of Noah, the door will be shut.

 

Keep watch, Jesus says, for we know neither the day nor the hour of His coming. In other words, be prepared. To be prepared, in Jesus’ parable, is to be wise. And to be wise is to be in Christ who lived, died, rose, ascended, and reigns for you.

 

To be wise is to trust in the foolishness of God which is wiser than the wisdom of men: Jesus Christ crucified for you.

 

To be wise is to live in the grace of the Bridegroom who loves you and gave himself up for you to make you holy, to cleanse you, to present you to the Father as his pure, holy faithful bride.

 

To be wise is to hear Jesus’ words which are a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. To be wise is to receive His Holy Spirit who anoints you by water and the word.

 

To be wise is come to the wedding feast God prepares for you in Jesus’ body and blood. Here comes the Bridegroom, in bread and wine, body and blood, for you. In these gifts, we are prepared, or rather, God is preparing us for Jesus our Bridegroom.

 

Yes, Jesus’s parable is a warning; but it’s also a promise. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. And when the Bridegroom comes again it’ll be a party. A wedding feast of joy, light, and life. Jesus our Bridegroom lived and died and rose so that we will be inside those doors, inside his the hall, enjoying his banqueting table. Blessed are you who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

 

Until that day, then, tend to the work of your vocations. Hear God’s Word. Live in your Baptism. Receive Jesus’ Body and Blood. Pray. Praise. And give thanks. Be watchful, be sober, be ready. Here comes the Bridegroom!

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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