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“Watch!”

November 12, 2017

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Third-Last Sunday                          Trinity Lutheran Church

12 November 2017                          Murdock, NE

 

+Jesu Juva +

Matthew 25:1-13

 

Well, there’s no sugarcoating it. There will be a Last Day. A Judgment Day. Jesus is, as the Book of Revelation calls Him the One “who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens,” (Rev. 3:7)! If you believe that, YOU PREPARE. The hangers on – the ones that totally and relentlessly mooch off of Jesus for salvation — those who are ready – oil for their lamps – five wise bridesmaids — will process in with Bridegroom Jesus to His eternal heavenly wedding banquet blowout bash.

 

To those who are not ready – no oil in their lamps – the foolish or moronic bridesmaids – the ones that essentially have no use of Jesus for salvation – blow Him off and figure that they always have time to repent and believe will find that the Last Day will come quite suddenly, when they least expect it and the door to the Bridegroom’s forever and ever wedding banquet will be slammed shut and forevermore securely locked. Then the time for repentance will be over forever. And worst of all they will hear the most dreadful words come from the Bridegroom’s mouth: “Who are you? I don’t know you.” It doesn’t get any more hellish than hearing that! Can you imagine? Who would ever expect to hear that?

 

So Jesus clinches the parable with these words: “watch – be prepared – for you do not know the day or hour when the Son of Man is coming.”

 

That’s the highest pastoral care Jesus gives you today. Those words. His. You’d better hear them again. “Watch – be prepared – for you do not know the day or hour when the Son of Man is coming.”

 

So it’s time to be wise not foolish or moronic. It is time to be prepared and not caught off guard. After all, Jesus has given you fair warning. Time after time in the New Testament Jesus preached that His revelation in glory on the Last Day will be a surprise and that it will happen at an hour when folks don’t expect Him as they carry on with the ordinary activities of life (Mt 24:44). Jesus emphatically taught: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” (Mt 24:36). The apostle Paul categorically learned from Jesus (Rv. 7:12) He will come “like a thief in the night” (1 Th 5:2). So did Peter (2 Pt 3:10).   In the Epistle today St. Paul says that, “the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God,” (1 Th 4:16).

 

Again, to be clear, Bridegroom Lord Jesus will return on the Last Day. In addition, that day will be a day of judgment.

 

We wait. Like the ten bridesmaids in the parable. We wait for the Bridegroom. How do you wait? Better listen to Jesus. Remember the clincher point? “Watch – be prepared – for you do not know the day or hour when the Son of Man is coming.”

 

When the Bridegroom came the foolish bridesmaids had no oil for the lamps. They were out. That was the crisis. They weren’t prepared. They took it for granted that they’d always have enough oil for their lamps. They just assumed. So, they were not able to meet the Bridegroom and join in the procession to the wedding feast. At that critical point there’s no oil to buy. There’s no oil that can be shared. The door is slammed shut. It is too late to be part of the wedding festivities. And the most hellacious words are spoken: “I don’t know you.”

 

The wise bridesmaids were prepared. Lamps well supplied. Oil out the wazoo. Ready to follow the Bridegroom to the wedding blowout whenever He showed up. Early or late. The oil makes all the difference in the parable.

 

Why oil? What’s the point? Well, I would suggest that the Lord’s use of oil in the parable corresponds to something in your Christian life that is constantly being used up and must ever be replenished if the flame of faith in Jesus will continue to burn. Let me try to illustrate: without gasoline in the tank your gas guzzling full size Toyota Sequoia SUV won’t run. So, without oil in the lamp there can be and will be no flame.

 

That’s Jesus’ way of saying in the parable that without His words coming into your ears and filling your heart THERE WILL BE NO FAITH IN HIM!   Without faith in Bridegroom Savior Jesus you have no access to the wedding feast of heaven. The door is shut. Closed. Bolted. Locked. Bridegroom Jesus couldn’t be anymore salvationally serious.

 

Think of it this way again. Do you expect your gas guzzling full size Toyota Sequoia SUV to run all the time just because you filled it up once? Can you go from L.A. to New York City in that behemoth with one tank of gas? Of course not! Whoever would do that we’d say they were unprepared. Silly. Foolish to even try.   However, I fear that is precisely the way most Lutherans foolishly think about the Last Day. I fear that we expect our faith in Jesus to survive all our lives and on to the Last Day just because we heard His Word once at our confirmation or on a couple of Easter Sundays and a random Christmas Eves. If I had a $1,000 for every member of a Lutheran congregation who unwisely believes this, I’d be enormously wealthy and could have retired 10 years ago!

 

But that is precisely the problem! I fear that millions of people that belong to the church outwardly no longer no of a divine last day judgment or a divine last day judge and do not take it seriously. Well, that’s exactly why Jesus tells the parable. There will be a Last Day and He is the Judge. If you don’t take this seriously, then you won’t be prepared. The door will be shut and you’ll hear from Jesus: “Who are you? I don’t know who you are!”

 

We’d better listen and believe Jesus. “Watch – be prepared – for you do not know the day or hour when the Son of Man is coming.” That means not just hearing His Word once and think that I’m in like Flynn. No, it means ever remaining in His Word. After all, “faith [in Jesus – faith that saves you on the Last Day] comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ,” (Rm 10:17) not just once but throughout all your life. If preaching and hearing of God’s Word ceases, then saving faith in Jesus ceases.

 

Well, I better wrap this up. You’re getting antsy. So here goes. Today’s parable from the Lord Jesus is His call for your repentance and to receive all that He would salvifically give to you in the here and now through the preaching of the gospel and the giving of His sacred body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. In His Word and Sacrament He gives you the salvational benefits of His Good Friday death FOR YOU.

 

Again, you don’t know when the Lord will return in glory on the Last Day. The wait may be long. It may be short. Most likely the five foolish bridesmaids thought that the bridegroom would not be delayed. So, they thought they had enough oil in their lamps for the short wait. They were wrong. Dead wrong.

 

So too, I fear that way too many of us here at Trinity falsely believe that our faith is strong and will sustain us to Judgment Day just because we got confirmed or went to church a couple of Easter Sundays in our life. How foolish! How hellaciously foolish! Faith not fed regularly will starve and die.

 

So, the Lord Jesus wants you to have faith in Him for the long haul. Faith in Him that will cling to Him even to Judgment Day. After all, you don’t know what you may have to endure in the upcoming days of intense crisis and persecution that is certainly coming against the church and the Lord’s Christians and is already here to a certain degree.

 

Faith in Jesus that saves you – that enables you to process with Jesus into the wedding feast of heaven – is only fueled by Jesus’ ongoing word of forgiveness in the absolution and preaching of the gospel and fed with His Good Friday body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. Faith in Jesus can’t live without Jesus who comes to you here and now in His Word and Sacrament with forgiveness, life and salvation. Faith in Jesus here and now will be prepared and ready to receive Him in faith when He comes in glory on the Last Day. You’ll have oil in your lamps. “Watch – be prepared – for you do not know the day or hour when the Son of Man is coming.”

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

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