Summary: Incorporates and adapts “The Parable of the Ten Virgins...", a sermon by Joseph Wallis, to whom credit is hereby acknowledged. The intent of my adaptation is to promote an "Extended Season of Advent" focusing on preparing for the Second Coming of our Lord
A Sermon for Beginning the Celebration of “Extended Advent”
Text: Matthew 25:1-15
(This sermon incorporates and adapts “The Parable of the Ten Virgins—A Picture of the Second Coming”, a sermon by Joseph Wallis, Sermon Central, Jan. 2002, to whom credit is hereby acknowledged.)
During Advent, we read from the Old Testament prophecies foretelling the birth of the Lord. Many other prophecies from the Bible have been fulfilled. Despite this fact, the prophecy which is very likely the next prophecy to be fulfilled is ignored or given too little attention. I am speaking of the Second Coming of Christ, the next event on the calendar of God. There are many verses in the Bible which speak of the Second Coming. Today, during this first Sunday of “Extended Advent”, we will look at a few. When Jesus was here on earth he promised that at the end of time he would come again.
The doctrine of the Second Coming is the object of derision and ridicule among some people, and yet it is one of the most important doctrines of the Bible, and therefore something that we should take a closer look at, especially during Advent which is the season designated as the time we consider both the birth of Jesus which fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies, and the promise that Jesus made in John 14:3 where he tells His disciples, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
The parable of the 10 Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 which we read this morning is an excellent and illustrative example of Christ’s teaching regarding his return. As is the case for all the parables, it is written in metaphor form. Commonly understood circumstances are used to point to a little understood truth so that we might learn something about God, His methods and purposes, from the parable. Let us look for a few minutes into this parable this morning, and see God’s message for us regarding the second coming of Our Lord.
As the story opens, we see the similarities of the people involved.
Notice that in this case all were young women invited to a wedding celebration, all had lamps, and all went out to meet the bride-groom, which was customary in those days. These young women were "bridesmaids", so to speak. Their job was to attend to the bride and keep her company until the bridegroom arrived.
One of the most exciting elements of the wedding in Bible times
was the arrival of the bridegroom. The bridegroom kept the time of his arrival secret. There was a festive game-like atmosphere at the wedding because the bridegroom tried to arrive at the wedding at an unexpected time, while the wedding party of bride, bridesmaids, and guests tried to be on the lookout for his arrival and catch him coming into the feast.
Here are ten bridesmaids -- they all looked alike. Each had a lamp. Each dressed in the garment of a bridesmaid. Each claimed to have been invited. They all acted like the others. They all had the same purpose.
None suspected that there was anything wrong with any of the others. But there was—a flaw would be revealed.
This is a picture of the visible church today with its many denominations and millions of members. All of these persons claim to be Christians, and they look pretty much the same outwardly. They all claim to be going to heaven. They all claim to be outwardly working for God. But… but many of them are not really prepared. And like 5 of the 10 bridesmaids in the parable, are not prepared for the Lord’s coming.
I am sure that if a person were to look at Noah and the people in the day of the flood there would have been a lot of difficulty determining who was right with God and who was not. I am sure that the places of sacrifice were filled when the religious services were being held. But the religion of that time was imitation religion. The same can be said of, and is most likely is true for Christianity. Christianity can and is being imitated. The religion practiced by some can be and in fact is counterfeit.
All these bridesmaids in the parable told by Jesus looked alike, but there was a difference. In our churches today, there is a difference between the saved and the unsaved. The foolish bridesmaids had no oil. Lamps are of no use without oil. Oil in the Bible is a symbol of the Holy Spirit as we see in I John 2:27 where the gift of the Holy Spirit is referred to metaphorically as an anointing. This word, “anointing” refers back to the Old Testament use of oil for infusing the gifts of God, something like the laying on of hands and blessing passed from one Christian to another, only in this case the blessing is from God.