Sermon Text: Matthew 25:1-13
November 9, 2014
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel account the 25th chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
The End is Near
The end is near. It is holy week. Jesus has triumphantly processed. Israel has selected her lambs. The plot is unfolding. Judas is betraying. Peter’s hand is ready at a moment’s notice to swing his blade and advance the kingdom by blood. Thomas is ready to die with Him. Everyone is set on edge. The Jews fear the crowds. The Romans fear riot. The crowds fear tomorrow. The end is near, everyone can feel it. The week is moving toward its pinnacle. The Lamb will be slain and sin will be undone. The end is near, but the end is not yet. It is Tuesday. It is not Friday and it is not the last day. For everything that happens this holy week happens in view of Friday. And everything that happens Fridayhappens in view of the last day. The end is near. “In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets but now in these last days,” now as the end approaches, now as the advent of our salvation draws near, “now in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.”
The end is near and Jesus knows it. Which is why He calls no one to arms but rather to prayer.
The end is near and Jesus knows it which is why He processes to Jerusalem: to be the Lamb who takes away the sin of the World.
The end is near and Jesus knows it, which is why He steps toward Friday with courage and faithfulness.
The end is near and Jesus knows it, which is why He speaks. He speaks not to condemn the world but to save the world, not to hurt or harm but to bind up and heal, not to frighten or chase away, but to woo and draw near. The end is near and so He speaks to us this morning.
Jesus speaks in parables. He speaks of the kingdom of God and 10 maidens awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. They are waiting for the consummation. They are waiting for the end. The end is near. The consummation is soon. The Bridegroom will be coming, coming to claim His bride and be one flesh with her and for her, surrendering all that is his for her good, for her life. The end is near and the maidens await. They are Christ’s church and they are ten. They are ten because Christ’s church is full. Ten is complete but there is always room for more. These ten have lamps to provide light during the night. Without the lamps they suffer the darkness. In the darkness death awaits. Of these ten there are five who are wise – their lamps have oil, they have light, the darkness does not overcome them. And of these ten five are foolish. They have no oil. They have no light. Without the Light they suffer the darkness, the darkness overcomes them, they are lost.
The parable is a picture for us, a picture of the church on earth awaiting her Lord’s return. The church is full, but there’s always room for more. The church is full of those who have oil and thus also light and love, as well as those who have no oil and so no light and no love. In other words, the church is full of those who are faithful and those who are hypocrites.
Jesus tells the parable because even now, even here, even today, some who are hearing this are faithful and some are hypocrites. Some are wise and they receive the Word. They keep their lamps trimmed and burning waiting faithfully for the Lord’s return and loving their neighbor.
Some are fools. They gather with the wise but their ears are closed. The Word is rejected. Faith must have an object. God gives His Word to be faith’s object. Faith comes by hearing the Word. But, where the Word is rejected faith cannot survive and love grows cold. Though outwardly they look like Christians, inwardly they are empty. No Word equals no faith. No faith equals no love, no good works. No faith and love means no light in the darkness. Faith without works is dead. “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”(James 2:24) Faith alone saves, but faith is never alone. You see with your eyes, that a person is justified, that a person is saved by his or her works. You see salvation working in the heart of the believer by his or her works. The works don’t save. Love doesn’t save. But the works are the outward expression of what has happened by faith in the heart. Where the Word takes root in the heart, this earthen vessel, this jar of clay, faith is born and then faith is active in love and good works. Thus the heart that believes in Christ, that remains steadfast in the Word, will live differently, love differently. Light will shine in the darkness and bring warmth to the night because of the Word in the heart and fire of love in the life.
What is your heart revealing? What light are you shinning? Are you wise or are you living the life of a fool. The fool says in his heart there is no God. The fool denies the need to repent. The fool lives for the praise of others. The fool ignores the plight of their neighbor. The fool builds his house, stakes his life, on shifting sand. The fool cannot see past today and therefore neglects preparations for the end. The fool has no light in the darkness and is just fine with that. Are you wise or are you a fool. Don’t be a fool. Repent.
The Bridegroom Delays
The end is near; your end and the world’s. The end is near. Though so many bounce about entertaining themselves with the darkness of this world it remains the will of the bridegroom that every person be saved. It is God’s Will to save the world. But His will is not imposed upon us. He does not force Himself. He does wag the finger or rattle His sabre. His intention is to win the heart and so also redeem the body, to save the soul and renew the life. And so He delays the end, even your end, to allow His Word time to work repentance within you. He delays to be gracious. He stays His anger to further His love. His is not a salvation wrought by fear and trembling, but suffering and blood, not of the guilty, not of the sinner, not your suffering and not your blood, but that of your eternal bridegroom.
In Love Jesus took upon Himself your blemishes.
In Love Jesus carried the tree to Calvary.
In Love His flesh was torn,
His flesh pierced,
His blood shed for you,
His voice silenced,
His life ended,
His body crucified, dead and buried.
In Love Jesus bore the cross to bring an end to this world’s foolishness, to tackle the darkness and pin it to the ground. To engulf death in His death and buried it forever in His burial.
In Love He rose from the dead.
His Flesh bearing the marks of the nails and the spear
His blood offered to you in a cup
His voice trumpeting divine mercy
His life quickened never to die again
His body radiant as the sun on Easter Morning
In Love Jesus delays that His delay may be a time of repentance for you before the coming of the end, even your end.
Be Wise (Keep your lamps trimmed and burning)
The end is near beloved. But the end is not yet. The bridegroom delays in order to be gracious to you. The church is full but there is always room for more, there is always room for you. And just because the parable says there are wise and fools in her midst doesn’t mean the fools have to stay fools and it doesn’t mean the wise will always be wise. The point of the parable serves as an admonishment to the fools and an encouragement to the wise. Therefore beloved, give up your folly and be wise. Receive the Word of the Lord. Hear the preaching of Christ and Him crucified. Hear the Word with open ears and receptive hearts. Do not be stubborn as were the Jews in the days of Midian. Do not suppose yourself too wise for the simplicity of God’s means of Grace. The Word, Baptism, the Supper and Absolution are truly simple and common but they are not beneath the wisdom of our God. No beloved, it is through these that the Savior Himself comes to those who hear and believe. No man, woman or child can go back to the cross and stand beneath the flow of blood and water for cleansing. No man, woman, or child can ascend to the Father’s right hand, climbing Jacob’s ladder as though he or she were some sort of spiritual peeping Tom, hoping to catch of glimpse of God in His majesty. No man, woman, or child can devise new means or better methods to quicken the heart and bring light to the darkness of this world.
No beloved, there is only the Word of God,
The Word proclaimed from pulpits
The Word taught in the catechism
The Word sung in the liturgy
The Word included and combined with Water
The Word hidden under bread
The Word spoken into the cup
The Word given to eat and drink, to wear, and to hear, to pray and sing all for the forgiveness of your sin and the saving of your bodies and your souls. There is only the Word for earthen vessels, these treasures of clay, to bring forth light in the darkness and life in the midst of death. There is only the Word to preserve us for the end and assure us of our eternity.
The End is Near –
Beloved in the Lord, the End is near. Christ is crucified. Christ is risen. Christ is ascended. And Christ is coming again. The end is near and today God speaks to us through His Son. Therefore, keep watch, remain steadfast, fill your lamps with the oil of God’s word and let your light so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Let your life be one of receiving God’s grace in His Church and one of sharing God’s love in His World. The end is coming. The day is near. The shout will go out. The Trumpet will sound. The Bridegroom will appear. Those who have God’s Word will enter into life. Those who find their lamps lacking will remain in the darkness. The end is near beloved. The bridegroom delays for today. Today is all you have. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is not yet. Today is all you have. Therefore “today when you hear His voice do not harden your hearts.” The Savior speaks to woo you from the shadows and into the radiance of His life in the light of His Word. Today is the day of salvation. Today He is gracious and merciful to you because today, in these last days He speaks to you through His Son. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!