The Last Sunday in the Church Year
November 20, 2016
St. Matthew 25:1-13
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I know that on a Sunday morning it’s hard sometimes to keep your eyes open during a sermon! I find that when I read God’s Word, often my mind drifts to other things and my eyelids can be heavy. We fall asleep so easily and yet the Lord tells us to be ready and watching for Him? We could never do it! Even the bridesmaids can’t keep their eyes open. They fall asleep. Well WAKE UP! The Bridegroom is going to be here! Jesus is returning soon. The difference between the wise virgins and the foolish ones isn’t that the foolish ones fell asleep and the wise ones stayed awake. It’s that the wise ones had oil for their lamps.
Well, what’s the oil? What is it you need to be ready when the Bridegroom comes? The oil is the Holy Spirit. The Word. Faith in Jesus. In the Bible lamps were lit with oil and oil was put upon people to anoint them as God’s chosen ones. Oil was made from olives which were pressed and crushed. Think of our Lord on the cross, crushed by our sins. Pressed under the weight of God’s wrath and judgment. Squeezed by our sins until there was no life left in Him. Squeeze until the water and blood of the holy sacraments poured out of Him.
That oil, as it were, is given to us in our lamps. It is given us by the Holy Spirit who fills up our lamps in Holy Baptism and every time we eat and drink Christ’s Body and Blood. Oil is poured for our lamps as we hear God’s Word and the preaching of the Gospel. The thing about the oil is that it is the Bridegroom Himself who has prepared us for His return by giving us the oil! We don’t even have to go get it. He gives it to us. The Bridegroom Himself makes us ready to receive Him when He comes on the last day. Even if you fall asleep, that is, even when you die, the oil makes you ready for the day the trumpet sounds and Christ returns in all His glory. You, brothers and sisters in Christ, are ready. Water. Word. Body. Blood. Oil stocked up. Ready to go when the shout goes out!
So what about those foolish virgins? They aren’t ready. The don’t have oil. They thought they didn’t have to go and hear God’s Word. They didn’t need to come and eat and drink Christ’s body and blood. They didn’t have to learn the Scriptures and have Christ fill their vessels with oil. In this life they despised the Word and Baptism and the Supper. They figured that when Jesus comes back, they’d be in just because they had good intentions or they were nice people or they lived good lives or had their name on a church’s rolls. But there was no oil. No faith. No Word. No Holy Spirit. They THOUGHT they were fine but on the Last Day they’ll be running around trying to get some oil and there won’t be any more. For when the Lord comes on that Last Day, there will be no more time for preaching and hearing God’s Word. And the foolish ones will beat on the door of the wedding hall and be told, “I don’t know who you are!” There’s a warning there for whenever we are tempted to despise Christ’s Word and gifts!
But you, dear pure and wise virgins, you are ready. Your oil is stocked up because you are stocked up with Jesus. With His Word. Your Baptism. His Body and Blood. His forgiveness. Our Lord is coming and He WILL be here soon! But you’re ready. You’re ready because the Bridegroom has made you ready and wise. Oh sure, you may drift off during a sermon here and there and we may close our eyes in death for a time. But when the Lord arrives, that shout is going to wake us up! And we’re going to be full of joy and gladness that now Christ has come for us. And He’s going to gather us up and bring us to His eternal wedding feast. The End is near! Come quickly, Lord Jesus! For you are made ready by Jesus. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.