I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1

Your Lamp is Lit, You have Your Oil, the Bridegroom Comes for You

Last Sunday of the Church Year – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Matthew 25:1-13 “Your Lamp is Lit, You have Your Oil, the Bridegroom Comes for You”
November 26, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church

In Nomine Iesu
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Lord God, heavenly Father, make us watchful and heedful in awaiting the coming of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that when He shall stand at the door and knock, He may find us not sleeping in carelessness and sin, but awake and rejoicing in His appearance; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, by Veit Dietrich, p. 165)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)

The sermon text for today is taken from the 25th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:

[Jesus said:] “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’…
“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’
“But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)

In Christ Jesus, who will arrive as a bridegroom arrives for His bride, bringing you to eternal peace and rest, dear fellow redeemed:

Matthew chapter twenty-five is the turning point of his Gospel. Jesus is teaching some of His last parables. After this chapter, Jesus’ life then takes a turn. The council comes after Him. Judas betrays Him. You know the rest. At the end of His life Jesus continues with His message. “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.” Jesus uses what looks like simple parables, but there is a reason that many have a hard time understanding them. There is the bridegroom, ten virgins, lamps, and oil. All these things have meaning, and they all have one thing in common. This is a parable about you. Your lamp is lit, you have your oil, and the bridegroom comes for you.

How is your lamp lit? Does it need to be lit? These questions are brought on by the kingdom of heaven. The world wants there to be a good place to go when the end is near. Israel was looking forward to this kingdom that had no end ruled by King David and his descendants forever. With the world believing in that good place, many are searching for a way to get there. They want it to be a laid-out path, an easy road to follow. Well, it looks simple. Especially when Jesus tells His disciples this parable. It starts with 10 virgins waiting for a bridegroom. Five were wise, and five were foolish. This is where people start to have an issue with the message. They want everyone to be good. Or that there should be a certain designation for which five they are a part of. This is where the world sees how hard it is to get to heaven. And this is why Jesus is teaching this parable.

He is teaching His enemies that it’s not that easy to appease God the Father. They must be ready when the time comes, and most people are not. The religious leaders thought that they were very devoted to God. They certainly looked like they had it all figured out. Some of them were not patiently waiting for God to bring His kingdom, and when they were being told by Jesus’ time and time again that they were failing at following the Law, they wanted Jesus out of the picture. Enter the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom. “Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” The virgins have one goal and that is that they want to attend the wedding celebration with the bridegroom. Jesus teaches that five of those virgins had lamps and oil with them. Five of them brought the lamps, but no oil. The five foolish virgins were not ready for the bridegroom and the Pharisees were not ready for Jesus.

It should be easy to see that Jesus is the bridegroom who is coming for His bride. Since He is teaching this parable while He is on earth, then clearly, He is revealing what it will look like when He comes again. And since before our text Jesus says that “concerning that day and hour not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36), here we have Jesus’ teaching those around Him that they must be ready when that day comes for only God knows. Well, are we ready? The answer sticks out in Jesus’ parable. We see that some of us are going to be ready for when that day comes and some of us are not going to be ready.

The parable continues, with the virgins waiting for the bridegroom. The bridegroom is taking His time. He is taking so long, that the time comes, and everyone is asleep. They sleep for a while and finally the time arrives, the call goes out, and the bridegroom approaches. “Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ “But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ As we come to church, we are waiting for Jesus, the bridegroom to come again. All this waiting can sometimes feel tiresome. Are we sure that He is coming again? It doesn’t look like He is helping us. Are we even sure that He came the first time? It just seems like we are listening to the words of a dusty old book, most people make fun of us for reading it.

There are days that we think we are ready, but we don’t realize how much the devil and his lies have affected us. He wants us to second guess God and His plan and many times we do. We question God and how He does things because they don’t go our way. If we try to blame God, then we will want to listen to the lies. We sometimes would rather have people be right that God doesn’t exist, isn’t coming back, or doesn’t care. What’s the point of staying in God’s Word? What’s the point of coming to church? It sure looks like a waste of time. If we don’t fall into despair here, then the father of lies will tell us how easy it is to get back on track. Just ignore God now, live out your life to the fullest, take care of yourself even if it means breaking one of those ten commandments, or two. Would God really be that mean and send me to hell because of one little commandment? Everyone is doing it, or should I say breaking it. It’s not too hard to be a foolish virgin with no oil. The problem is that when the time comes and we need more, it is too late. Even if we find a vendor open in the middle of the night, the door is now shut.

As the door is shut for the five foolish virgins, Jesus teaches that there are also five who are wise. These wise virgins have what they need. They have their lamps ready, and they have extra oil. Jesus then delivers comfort to those listening to the parable. The bridegroom does arrive. “And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.” The disciples don’t realize that the parable is living out in front of them. Jesus is the bridegroom, and He has come for them. They have their lamps and unlike the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, they believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God. They are getting their oil from Him as they listen to His Word.

Now the Bridegroom arrives. As Jesus uses this wedding processional in the parable, Jesus had just done one of two processions. Before teaching this parable, He rode into Jerusalem with shouts of joy. Not long after teaching this parable He will be marched to the hill called Golgotha and be crucified on the cross. With the disciples witnessing all these things and believing these things, their lamps are lit for the world to see. They have their oil to continue to fill their lamps. The bridegroom will come once more with a great announcement and because they have their lamps, they are ushered into the wedding feast!

You are here today because like the disciples, you have your lamp. Your lamp comes from believing that everything that you hear today is true. Jesus is the Christ, He is the bridegroom that came into the world to redeem you, dying on the cross for your sins. All those questions that you might have, that the devil weasels into your mind, that cause doubt, they are forgiven by Jesus. He is not abandoning you. He is the light of the world and the darkness has no power over Him. And He gives you the light for your lamp. You do not need to search for oil for your lamp because you are getting the oil that you need from Him right here. He gives you your lamp and oil as a gift so that you can join Him in the celebration.

As the church year ends, knowing that the end is coming, it is these texts that bring you comfort. Jesus is teaching you with this parable that you are not alone because He is with you until the end. When the last day comes not only will you see it, but you will be ready with your lamp. In Psalm forty-five we see how great it will look when the bridegroom comes. “Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!” (Psalm 45:3-4). Jesus is teaching you through His Word. He instructs you that even though there are times you have been foolish; He came to forgive those sins. He takes them away with His blood and He will come again in majesty and victory for you. “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness and hated wickedness” (Psalm 45:6-7). That door will shut for the celebration and because of your bridegroom, you will remain by His side forever.

You can rest and sleep securely because of your lamp and the oil that is needed to fill it, God’s Word, and His Sacraments. You will see the foolish scramble to find the oil that they need. There will be those trying to find time saying that there is no need to worry, there is still time. “While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4). The day will come when we least expect it. We can’t be relaxed with our lamps, and we can’t lose patience. Both extremes can cause us to forget about oil. As Jesus comes to bring us comfort and strength, it is through the Means of Grace that we keep our lamps burning, and right now others can see those lamps shine. “For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6). As we stay awake and sober minded, it is because of what Christ has done for us that we can rest assured when the bridegroom comes. We will join Him for the celebration. Your lamp is lit, you have your oil, the bridegroom comes for you. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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