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Summary: What must we do to prepare for Christ’s Coming? Should we closely follow world events, research prophecy and draw up wildly speculative timelines? Is there something spiritual that we should be looking at in ourselves?

Prelude

What must we do to prepare for Christ’s Coming? Should we closely follow world events, research prophecy and draw up wildly speculative timelines? Is there something spiritual that we should be looking at in ourselves?

Our purpose is to learn how to prepare for His Coming.

Our plan is to examine the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 and what it says to us.

Matthew 25:1-2 Bridesmaids

Who are the bridesmaids? In Matthew 25:1 we read, “the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” Traditionally, the bridegroom prepared a home for his bride. When it was ready, this groom came for his bride at midnight. The virgins or bridesmaids were to light the procession with their lamps as the couple went to be married. The picture in verse 2 is that “five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” The bridegroom has prepared to be with the woman he passionately loves, the Church. Who has their lamps ready to join the wedding procession?

Matthew 25:3-4 Oil

What’s the oil for? In Matthew 25:3-4 we read, “Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” Olive oil fueled lamps in the temple (Numbers 4:16). It was for baking holy bread and holy anointing oil (Exodus 30:22-31; James 5:14) and in numerous sacrifices. It symbolizes the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13). The five foolish virgins gave inferior offerings. With no fuel for their Christian lamp they were neglecting the light of good deeds (Matthew 5:14-16). Blessed is the one who is awake and spiritually clothed (Revelation 16:15).

Matthew 25:5 Delay

How do we deal with Jesus’ delay? In Matthew 25:5 we read, “while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.” We don’t know when Jesus will come for us. A Rabbi said we should repent the day before we die. His students objected that we don’t know when that day is. He replied, “All the more reasons to repent today, lest you die tomorrow.” How long will we put off necessary spiritual preparations for the kingdom of heaven? How long will we persist in unrepentant sins, hoping to repent later? How long before we act upon the Gospel message by approaching the throne of mercy in heartfelt gratitude?

Matthew 25:6 Midnight

Are we ready for Jesus? In Matthew 25:6 we read, “at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’” In earthquake and hurricane zones preparedness means tougher building codes. In tornado and wildfire zones it means tornado-proof or fire-proof structures and underground shelters. Financial preparedness means being ready for health crises, unemployment and old age. Educational preparedness means that we are ready for the needs of the job market. In dangerous times preparedness means protection at our doors. Jesus also addressed the idea of preparedness. He will return in power and when he does will we be among the wise who are ready?

Matthew 25:8 Sustaining Light

Why do we sometimes find that “our lamps are going out” (Matthew 25:8)? We need fuel, the help of the Holy Spirit, to sustain the light of good works. In acts of piety we go to the source that sustains our acts of charity. We “buy” oil through prayer, Bible study, church attendance, good morality, resting in Jesus, etc. The heavenly oil we receive sustains our love to neighbor in practical ways, without burning out (Matthew 5:13-16). This is explained more at the end of Matthew 25. Spiritual burnout is an ever present danger. The more we shine in acts of charity, the more we need that replenishing oil.

Matthew 25:9 Buy for Yourselves

While we wait for Jesus to return, what should we be doing? In Matthew 25:9 the unwise virgins with no oil were told, “go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” We need oil before Jesus returns, because when he comes it will be too late. We need the oil of joy (Hebrews 1:9), of healing (James 5:14) of the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13)? The Holy Spirit plays a central role in the life of any Christian. Luther believed the oil pictures faith. The end of the chapter encourages good works. The light of good deeds is sustained by the oil (Matthew 5:13-16).

Matthew 25:10-12 Shut Out

Are we spiritually ready for Jesus? In Matthew 25:10-12 we read, “those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” People are locked out of the wedding. The bridegroom tells them he does not know them. Spiritual preparedness cannot be delegated. We cannot borrow spiritual oil from others. Each of us can only prepare for ourselves. How many of us are not spiritually prepared because we have been thinking we could borrow righteousness from someone else?

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