Sermon - Parable of the Ten Virgins
Last Sunday of the Church Year
November 26, 2017
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It is written: 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Jesus, Jesus, open to us.’ 12 But Jesus answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Let us pray: Almighty God, grant to Your church Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above, that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith, we may serve You and, in the confession of Your name, abide unto the end; in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Today is the last Sunday of the Church Year and the parable of the Ten Virgins is to teach and admonish us as to what will happen when Christ comes on the last day ushers in the consummation of the church in the new heaven and earth.
The parable of the Ten Virgins uses an ancient Jewish wedding to warn us Christians.
An ancient Jewish wedding would go like this: A young Jewish man, the groom, would be engaged to his fiance without ceremony but as legally binding as marriage is today. To break off this Jewish engagement would be called divorce. A few days later, the young groom would arrive at his fiance’s home (her dad’s home) to escort the young lady to his home for two purposes. First, to consummate the marriage. Second, to begin a week-long wedding celebration. Many from the village would join the couple to the groom’s house. It was a big parade. It was an open invitation. These people are the wedding guests.
The wedding guests would not know exactly when the groom would arrive. They knew he would come within a few days of the engagement. They knew the groom was coming soon but they did not know exactly when. So, they had time to ready themselves. The groom could arrive during the day. But he could arrive during the night, so to be prepared they needed lamps with oil.
Jesus is telling this parable to warn us Christians to be prepared for His return on the Last Day. On the Last Day Jesus, the groom, will come for His bride, the church. Jesus will consummate the end-times and we will celebrate with Him for eternity. In this parable, we Christians are the wedding guests who are waiting for Christ’s return.
A virgin is symbolic of a Christian, not a non-Christian.
Ten virgins are symbolic for all Christians in heaven and earth.
On the Last Day, some Christians will be found wise unto salvation. Some Christians will be found foolish. The foolish will cry out “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name and cast out devils? And in your name done many wonderful works? Lord, Lord, have we not support pastors to preach your word and baptized our children? Have we not supported wonderful works like missions in Papua New Guinea and Kenya? Then Jesus will solemnly proclaim to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me.’
The parable teaches us that there is a division among Christians. Some are well prepared. Some are not prepared at all. Both groups make up the whole of Christianity.
What do the fools lack? They thought they were prepared. The parable tells us what they lack by the lamps that they hold.
Think of it like this:
The lamp’s flame is faith in Christ.
The oil in the lamp is the grace of God - The dealer of God’s grace is Moses and the prophets. Today, the public dealers of God’s grace are the pastors who proclaim the Lord’s Word and administer the Lord’s Sacraments.
The lamp itself is the particular congregation you attend. This is the outward form of that particular congregation.
Flame, oil, and lamp. The fools have the lamp; the outward life and conduct of a Christian. But the fools have no oil. No Word and Sacrament.
The fools are not like Moses’ brother Aaron. Aaron committed idolatry. Hearing the Word, Aaron repented and believed in Jesus again. Aaron was graciously admitted back in through the open door of God’s Word and the Old Testament sacrifices.
The fools are not like David. David committed adultery and then homicide. Hearing the Word, David repented and believed in Jesus again. David was graciously admitted back in through the open door of God’s Word and Old Testament sacrifices.
The fools are not like Peter. Peter denied the Lord three times. Hearing the Word, Peter repented and believed in Jesus again. Peter was graciously admitted in through the open door of God’s Word and His New Testament sacraments.
How will the fools be unprepared for Christ’s second coming?
They will have been active in the outward form of the Christian church (the potlucks, clean-up days, the annual Sunday School Christmas program and the like but they will be the ones who were not hearing the Word of God preached and taught. They will be the ones who denied the power of Holy Baptism and did not attend the Holy Communion.
On the Last Day, the door through which Aaron, David, and Peter were graciously readmitted to the Christian church will be forever shut.
On the Last Day, the door which Christ says “Knock and it will be open to you” will have been shut forever.
Today is the day to fill your lamps with oil.
Jesus fills your lamp with oil when He forgives your sin in the Confession and Absolution. Then the lamp continues to burn. The flame is faith in Jesus. You will be prepared.
Jesus fills your lamp with oil when He announces the grace of God in public sermons, Bible studies, and private devotions, and the mutual care and comfort of Christians encouraging each other in the Scriptures which they memorize and remember. Then the lamp continues to burn. The flame is faith in Jesus. You will be prepared.
The Lord fills your lamp with oil when He feeds you His very Body and Blood for you to eat and drink. Then the lamp continues to burn. The flame is faith in Jesus. You will be prepared.
Jesus is warning us Christians to keep watching for His return.
Keep watch by hearing the preaching of the Word of God and trust that what you hear is for you. This is wise and you will be prepared for the Last Day
Keep watch by being Baptized which is connected with the study of God’s Word and trust that what you hear is for you. This is wise and you will be prepared for the Last Day.
Keep watch by eating and drinking Christ’s Body and Blood and trust that what you eat and drink is for you. This is wise and you will be prepared for the Last Day.
Keep watch therefore and remain prepared for Jesus Christ’s Second Coming by receiving His Word and Sacrament by faith in Jesus.
You feel that Jesus is delayed. You will probably fall asleep in Christ before He comes, just like Aaron, David, and Peter.
But your hope is that Jesus will keep His promises given to you.
It is written in the last chapter of the book of Revelation, Jesus “testifies of these things saying, ‘Surely, I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus’; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Finally, I leave you with the last words written in the Holy Scriptures, which is a blessing for all of you - “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”