Sermon for Pentecost 24 – 11.12.23
+ 24th Sunday after Pentecost – November 12th, 2023 +
Series A: Amos 5:18-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church
“The Bridegroom Comes”
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Whenever we turn the calendar to November, it seems as though a lot of events change with it. The clocks turn back. The weather takes a turn: rain and leaves are falling. The days are colder. Nights longer. You turn on the lights and the coffee pot earlier, more frequently.
In our Lord’s house, the church calendar and Scripture readings have taken a turn as well. Last week we celebrated All Saints’ Day. This week, and for the last weeks of November, the prayers, hymns and Scripture readings turn our attention to the End Times, the Last Day, to the day of Christ’s promised and glorious return.
For many, both in and out of the church, the end times tends to get rather sensationalized. You may even have said or thought to yourself in recent weeks, it sure feels like the end is near. Wars in Russia and Ukraine and Israel. Disasters. Tragedies. Persecutions. Plagues. Wickedness run amuck. If it feels like we’re living in the Last Days, that’s because we are. And we have been since Jesus’ death and resurrection. Today is one day closer to our Lord’s return.
When Jesus teaches us about the Last Day and his second coming, he does so not to create hype or hysteria, but to give us hope. For you who are in Christ crucified, that day is a day of joy, and we pray for it…come quickly, Lord Jesus. In readings like today’s from Matthew 25, our Lord prepares us to live not in fear but by faith in his promises.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ teaching has taken a turn as well. At the end of today’s parable he says, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
To prepare us for his coming again, Jesus tells us a parable.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps[a] and went to meet the bridegroom.[b] 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
Lamps and oil are common in the Scriptures. God’s word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, the Psalms remind us. Oil is used for healing, gladness, joy, and anointing; it is a gift that is given that marks you as one who belongs to God. Important details to remember later.
As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 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.’ 10 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. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Hearing Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish virgins, we might be tempted to try and figure out which bridesmaid we are. To do that, we look at our jars of oil. Do we have enough? Have we done enough, loved enough, cared enough, been faithful enough? And when we look at ourselves and ask that question the answer is always going to be the same. No, I haven’t done enough. I don’t have enough. I’m not prepared enough. I am not enough.
In Christ, your Bridegroom, the answer is always yes. In his death and resurrection for you there is always enough, more than enough. His body and blood overflowing with forgiveness. His word to be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. His forgiveness sustains you and keeps you in. Jesus’ word and promise are enough.
Rather than ask what kind bridesmaid we are, Jesus invites us to see the kind of bridegroom He is. He is the Bridegroom whose love will never grow weary, whose promise will always hold true. He loves us and is coming to meet us. Jesus your Bridegroom is coming with unquenchable love. Yes, the Bridegroom has been delayed, but He has not forgotten you His bride. The Bridegroom has been slow in coming, but His love for you has not declined. His grace will not run out for he is with you always. The Bridegroom has a steadfast love, and He will come with joy to gather you His people into an eternal celebration in His Kingdom.
The more we look at the Bridegroom, the more God assures us that His love is eternal, that Christ’s death and resurrection for you, Christ’s word and promise for you, Christ’s anointing of you in water and word is more than enough to prepare you for the day of his coming, and enough to keep you in Christ until that day.
How do we prepare and wait and watch for Jesus the coming Bridegroom? We’re doing that right now this morning. You are in his house. At his feet. Hearing his word. Receiving his gifts. You do this when the light of his word fills your homes and family time as well. To be well prepared for Christ’s coming is to realize and rejoice that we have nothing of our own to cling to…but Christ the bridegroom.
When Christ returns…it is not for judgment – that’s already been done. Jesus the bridegroom was judged on the cross for you. At midnight comes the cry: Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.
As the church calendar turns to these last Sundays of the church year, our Lord turns our eyes and ears, hearts and minds to our Lord’s return, we welcome and wait and watch for that day, knowing that when Jesus returns, he comes as your bridegroom.
He shines the light of his word into your ears creating, sustaining, and strengthening your faith in these last days. He has poured out the holy oil of water and word and the Spirit and marked you as his own; today and every day from now into eternity, you belong to him.
Jesus your Bridegroom is here. Come to meet him who meets you in this place with forgiveness. Pardon. Peace.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.