Sunday, November 22, 2009
Sunday of the Fulfillment (Last Sunday of the Church Year) Matthew 25:1-13
Then the kingdom of the heavens will be like 10 bridesmaids, who having taken their lamps went out to meet the groom. And five of them were moronic, and five wise; for the moronic having taken their lamps did not take with them oil, and the wise took oil in the vessels with their lamps. And the groom delaying, all of them became drowsy and were sleeping. And in the midst of the night a cry came, "Look, the groom; you get going in to meet him!" Then all those bridesmaids rose and lit their lamps. And the moronic said to the wise, "Give to us from your oil, because our lamps are going out!" And the wise answered, saying, "No way! There isn't at all enough for you and for us; You get going, rather, to the salesmen and buy your own." And while they were going away to buy, the Groom arrived, and those ready went in with Him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. And afterward, the remaining bridesmaids come, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us!" And He, answering said,"Amen, I say to you, I do not know you!" You keep watching, then, because you do not know the day or the hour!"
A while back, I needed a flashlight to go fix something. We found some soon enough, but none with batteries that worked! All the flashlights my family found were utterly useless, since there was nothing to power them. That's the problem these five foolish bridesmaids had. They had their lamps but there was no oil to power them. They were as unprepared as I was. Their lamps were useless to them.
Now, the first thing we want in this story is some sort of compromise. We expect that the wise virgins will share some of their oil. But there wasn't enough. We might want the bridesmaids to pair up, with each of the five lighted virgins entering with one of the in-the-dark ones. But that solution isn't offered. Why? Because it's all about the lamps and their light. If you have no Light, you can't get into the heavenly wedding banquet, plain and simple. On your own, you are only bright enough to be a moron.
Jesus is the Light of the World! With Him burning bright, your path is an enlightened one, and you will know the Way to the marriage feast. The enlightenment from God's Word for you is this: Jesus is the church's Groom, and you enter the marriage feast only as His bride! Always a bridesmaid, and never a bride? Not for you! It is for you that the Bridegroom has actually come! For Jesus gives Himself as the feast, dying for his beloved at the cross, giving His bodyand shedding His blood for the wedding meal.
As we hear this story, we want to point fingers at these 5 bridesmaids for being so foolish. We don't think we would ever be such morons as they were. But be careful. You may think that you are quite enlightened, but actually find that you are sometimes greatly in the dark! Are you very knowledgeable about the things of God? Do you search your bible daily for the signs that point to Christ's imminent return? Do you wake up each day wondering if this is the day Jesus will come back again?
The LORD tells us that His word is a lamp for our feet and a light to our path. His word is that shining light that brought you out of the darkness of your sin when the Holy Ghost brought you to faith through the gospel message of Jesus' love for you. His word which enlightened you to faith in His first coming to live a perfect life, suffer, die and rise for you and your salvation, is a word that continues to enlighten you about His second coming, that you watch for Him with the God-given eyes of faith.
As you listen to this story, you may try to reassure yourself that you will not be like those foolish brides-maids. You'll prepare yourself, and make sure that you have oil in your lamp for Jesus' return. But preparing is not something you can do, in and of yourself. How are you ever sure that you are ready *enough* for Judgment Day? Are you really sorry enough for your sins? Have you committed yourself sincerely enough to being a disciple Jesus? Have you served Him enough here on earth?
The oil that fills your lamp is not your doing, but God's. It is the working of the Holy Spirit, Who prepares your heart and mind, so that it is ready each and every day for Jesus' return. By daily contrition and repentance, He creates your heart anew by drowning your old Adam of sin in the waters of your baptism, and by raising you up anew to live before God in His gracious righteousness and purity forever. For you are pure in the cleansing of your baptism, and now have Jesus righteousness!
So by faith, we keep watch, joyfully awaiting our Savior's return, knowing He has filled our lamps, that He has enlightened our way, and returns to bring us into His eternal wedding banquet in heaven.