Summary: There are people who prepare, and people who don't. Three points - We don't know the day or hour, We do know Jesus will return for us, We need to prepare for his coming. Concludes with Apostles Creed
Matthew 25:1-13 “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 Those who were foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 Now while the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold! The bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.[a] 8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘What if there isn’t enough for us and you? You go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 While they went away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Most certainly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you don’t know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
In this story, the bridesmaids were late to the wedding because they were unprepared. The doors had already been barred because they weren’t there when the Bridegroom came to bring them to the wedding.
In the days of Jesus, most weddings were held after the harvest. The approximate time of the wedding was known by the bride and the bridesmaids, as well as the bride’s family, and they would wait together at her home. But, the festivities wouldn’t begin until the groom arrived and asked to see the bride. He would then escort the bride and her family to his home, through the night, and the party would begin. No one except the father of the groom, who had to prepare the festivities, would know the exact day and hour he would set out.
A part of the excitement of the wedding was the anticipation and the waiting. I am certain the bride and her nearest friends would tell stories of the moment to come, when she would be claimed. Her mother and father likely prepared her for her wedding night, and she would have everything ready to be taken with her. But once they were ready, they would wait.
Now, there are two kinds of people, people who plan to be ready for the wait and those who don’t.
In the years before I entered seminary, I worked with many consultants. I must admit that some of them drove me crazy. They would wait to start on the project until the same day the customer declared they needed the final product. Since it always involved multiple people and multiple steps, they were always late. In fact, one consultant was so bad about this, he would schedule two meetings 50 miles apart. He would tell the people planning the second meeting that he would arrive at the same time he would be leaving the first meeting. He was an excellent example of the kind of person who would have run out of oil … and would have been surprised that the Bridegroom actually expected him to be ready and waiting.
In Seminary, it was the opposite, our professors were tough. Assignments had to be turned in at the time they were due (something I expect). One student tried to tell the professor that his work schedule and personal issues had made it impossible and asked for an extension. The professor turned to him and asked, “So, what are you going to say when you show up Sunday mornings? Will you ask them to return on Monday? You need to learn the art of being ready now. And if you think Seminary is hard, what are you going to do when you have to research and write a new sermon every single week?” Like pastors with our sermons, we must be ready when the Bridegroom comes.
There are three things I want us to learn from this passage today. No one knows the hour Jesus will come. Jesus will return for us. We need to be ready.
Point 1: No one knows the day Jesus will return.
So first, no one knows when the bridegroom will be coming, just as no one knows when the Son of Man will return. Just so you know, Jesus didn’t divide his life up into chapters and verses, and this parable comes out of his discourse in Chapter 24 of Matthew. It begins with the disciples admiring the temple and him telling them a bit about the future, including the fact that the temple will be destroyed. He tells them that there are signs to watch for, but, and this is important. ““But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”