Sermons

Summary: Prepare for a delay, but be ready today.

Being Ready

Matthew 25:1-13

Rev. Brian Bill

8/30/09

When I provide premarital counseling for couples I always tell them that it’s much easier to plan a wedding than it is to have a good marriage. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of officiating at many weddings and at most of them something invariably goes wrong. I can think of a wedding here at PBC where I made the mistake of calling the groom by the wrong name.

The biggest wedding blooper that I’ve experienced goes way back to when I was pastoring in Rockford. The couple wanted their wedding outside next to a beautiful lake. As the plans unfolded, they began adding elements that they thought would make for a memorable marriage ceremony. Everything was planned with precision, with one exception. They hadn’t planned on the element of bad weather for their wedding.

This couple really liked boating so they decided they would take a pontoon boat from one side of the lake to the other. It was kind of their version of walking down the aisle. As I waited on the pier with the groomsmen and bridesmaids, the wind started blowing and the temperature dropped. If we squinted we could see the pontoon boat making its way toward us. But because it was so windy, they were late getting to us. When we finally saw them, the bride had a scowl on her face to match the summer squall that was blowing her dress and threatening to whip off her veil.

When they finally docked, the wedding party and guests were snickering but they held it in because the bride didn’t look very happy. Someone tried to help her get out of the boat but just then a big wave hit and she fell into the water! A holy hush came over the crowd and then I started laughing and couldn’t stop. Has that ever happened to you? It’s really hard to stop laughing when you’re at a serious service isn’t it? I’ll never forget the icy stare I got from the bride as she climbed out of the water. I don’t remember much more about the service except that I think I raced through the ceremony and got out of there as soon as I could.

Putting the Text in Context

We’re concluding our summer series called, “Practical Parables” today. Next week we’ll begin a new series entitled, “Living Life on Purpose” from Romans 12. Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 25 as we ponder a very vivid and powerful parable. We’ll notice right away in verse 1 that this section is linked to what comes before: “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like…” What time is Jesus referring to? Turn back to Matthew 24:3 where see that Jesus is doing some private teaching with his disciples in response to their questions about His second coming: “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of this age?” We don’t have time to dive deeply into this chapter but suffice it to say that there are signs that His coming is close but His appearance will also be very sudden.

It seems that people have always been making predictions about the second coming. I came across this statement written by a well-known Christian: “The last days are upon us. Weigh carefully the times. Look for Him who is above all time, eternal and invisible.” This was not written by a modern prophecy expert but by a man named Ignatius in 110 A.D. Here’s another one: “There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born…” This was written by a guy named Martin in the year 375. When the year 1000 was approaching some Christians didn’t plant crops for the next year. In the 1500s, Martin Luther wrote: “We have reached the time of the white horse of the Apocalypse. This world will not last any longer…than another hundred years.” (Source: Scott Weber, sermoncentral.com)

And it keeps going. Some thought the end would come in 1994 and then it was Y2K and now some believe it will be 2012 because apparently that’s when the Mayan calendar runs out. Actually, some are setting an exact date – 12/21/12. I did a Google search of “2012 end of world” this week and was surprised that 6.8 million results came back! Did you know that there’s a movie coming out in November called, “2012”? I watched the trailer and was struck by this caption, “How would the governments of our planet prepare six billion people for the end of the world?” A moment later these words appeared on the screen: “They wouldn’t. 2012: The end is just the beginning.”

Some people are really serious about this. ABC News reported on a man named Patrick Geryl, who quit his job because he’d saved up just enough money to last him until December 2012: “After that, he thought, he wouldn’t need it anyway.” When asked what would happen if this date were to come and go without the earthquakes and tsunamis of his predictions, Geryl fell silent and then he said, “I don’t really contemplate that possibility. My predictions are so spectacular, they can’t possibly be wrong.” (abcnews.go.com)

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