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Last Sunday in the Church Year – Matthew 25:1-13

by pastorjuhl ~ November 18th, 2010

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

Jesus concludes today’s Holy Gospel with these words: Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. What our Lord properly assumes is that you know the Son of Man is returning. That’s why the ten virgins took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. They knew he would come. They were prepared to wait a while, even past sundown. The difference between the five foolish virgins and the five wise virgins is that the wise virgins brought extra oil for their lamps. The five foolish virgins brought no extra oil. They thought they were prepared, but they weren’t.

Over-preparedness is almost a vice rather than a virtue. Having children teaches a family to be prepared even for the impossible. We go nowhere without an arsenal of diapers, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, even an extra change of clothes for the younger children just in case. Carrying around all this stuff for no apparent reason except to be prepared might bring a smile or a chuckle to some. But what if that unexpected thing should happen? We’re prepared.

The Bridegroom’s coming is not unexpected. Jesus Christ’s return in the flesh is as much a part of the Christian faith as His first coming among us and His coming among us now in preaching and the Sacraments. Christians of the New Testament era lived in a constant state of readiness. They expected Christ’s return at any moment. Consider all the persecutions they went through, even several centuries after Saint John wrote the book of Revelation in the late first century, A.D. The persecutions, wars, famines, and natural disasters all were signs of great things yet to come.

Those signs are among us today. Yet we think God is punishing someone or reminding someone else that His Son is coming soon. It’s as if our heavenly Father has His bull’s eye directly on all the people and places that need some fixing. How quickly you forget that His bull’s eye is trained directly on you. Do you think you are the only one who is without sin? You had better check your lamp to see whether it is trimmed and burning, because the Bridegroom will be here before you know it.

Saint Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians, and the Christians gathered in Momence, that you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. You can’t claim “peace and safety” forever. Just when you think there is peace and safety in this world is when Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.

Waiting for the coming of the Son of Man is sobering stuff. Watching takes diligence. You have your station in life. No matter what the Lord gives you to do, you do it knowing you’ve been given a trust. As a Christian clothed in the garment of incorruption given you at your baptism, Jesus Christ gives you the hope of eternal life amidst the world’s bleak wilderness. The evil foe stops at nothing to get your focus away from sentry duty over your soul and toward doubting whether you have hope in eternity. He wants you to leave your post. He wants your mind and soul to wander in desolate places, thinking Christ lies to you when He tells you to watch.

The Word of the Lord is sure and certain. Jesus is coming soon. Jesus will put an end to the parade of sadness and disappointment in this life. He will put an end to this broken world. Hear again the prophet Isaiah: I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. People loved by God, you are His spiritual Jerusalem. The Lord God has joy in you! He has joy not because of who you are as sinful, broken people living in the midst of a fractured world. The Lord God has joy in you because of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.

When our Father in heaven looks at you, He sees you covered in the Blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses you from all sin. He sees you as His beloved child, with whom He is well pleased. Those words are familiar because that’s what the Father said when His Son Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan. He said that to you the day you were baptized. Your baptism clothed you with Christ, washing you clean from sin and grafting you into the Vine of Righteousness. The perfect life Jesus lived is yours. His innocent suffering and death is yours. His victorious resurrection from the dead is yours. His judgment for you is “not guilty”. When He returns to judge the living and the dead, He will set you on His right hand with those who keep their lamps trimmed and burning, wisely waiting for His return. He will speak to you these words also in Matthew chapter 25: Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Why would you not want to be prepared for such a time as this? The Bride of Christ has lived in this time of expectation for over two millennia. Waiting that long might be foolish for some. Yet those who seem to be wise thinking Jesus will never return will be the ones who are foolish. You who are thought to be foolish by some will be wise on that great and glorious day when Christ returns to take home His Bride, the Church.

The Introit Psalm 39 takes on a new dimension once you are reminded that the world as you know it is not your eternal home. And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! I commend these words of King David to you as a prayer to pray when you are worried about what will happen when you die. My hope is in You. Rejoice, beloved! The Bridegroom comes for you! Even so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.

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

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