Sermons

Last Sunday (Mt 25:1–13)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

Last week: King, sheep and goats. This week: Bridegroom, wise and foolish virgins. Now, what are we to make of such disparate and different characters? As the saying goes, “The more things change the more they stay the same.” So, what will save us from confusion? What wisdom can shed light on the darkness? Only that of the Bridegroom Himself, and so the prayer: “Your Word is a Lamp to my feet and a Light to my path.”

((3. What’s wisdom?))

Where there’s a lamp, there’s light. Dead lamp, no light. No oil, dead lamp. Foolish Virgins. Wise Virgins. More oil. Light and life forever. What makes them wise? What is the wisdom that they had that the foolish did not? We need to learn about that wisdom.

Well, wisdom, from the lips of the Lord Jesus, isn’t something that you simply carry around in your head. It’s not knowledge. It’s the way use your life. Building your house on a rock is wise. The foolish man builds on sand. The Lord tells another parable about a faithful and wise steward who’s not persuaded by talk of the Master’s delay, and so the servant doesn’t take things over and fit them to his own plans and desires. He wisely waits patiently and looks wholeheartedly, only for the Lord.

And it’s there that we see that the heart of wisdom, as far as our Lord Jesus is concerned, is faith—no other ground of confidence except in Him.

((2. How were the five virgins foolish?))

We’re always on guard when we hear those five called “foolish,” but the reality is the foolish virgins appear to be just as wise as the others, and perhaps even more so. As the old saying goes: “Waste not, want not.” They may be called foolish at the start, but the difference is only made clear when they are all—all ten of them—awakened from sleep. Then you see that the foolish virgins have no oil. And why don’t they have any oil? Because they hadn’t figured on the Bridegroom’s delay. The foolish virgins had fallen to figuring. According to their calculation, they had enough oil. So, when their projections did not work out, their lamps went out.

We recognize the symptoms of unfaith in these virgins. They had their plan, their projection, and when you’re running your own plan, your own life, you can say when enough is enough. They had enough of the Lord. No need to receive as much of Him as possible. They had other things, more important things in their lives, than the Lord, and so only as much oil as they thought they needed.

The folly of the foolish virgins was that they did not live and die in the confidence that it’s all the Lord’s show. He comes when He chooses to, and that, like everything else about Him, is not subject to our calculation, to our unfaith.

((1. How were the other five virgins wise?))

What, then, of the wise virgins? There we see the symptoms of faith. Faith is at the receiving end only of gifts, and gifts are not subject to must, to calculation—certainly not the gifts from our Lord who is “far beyond anything we can ask or think.” The Gospel, the Good News, doesn’t say, “That’s it. That’s enough.” There is always more—incalculably more! The wise virgins did not just have enough oil. They had more than enough! They were wise and faithful virgins, because they were giveable to from the Lord, in this present day to day life and at the Great Awakening. Their wisdom is in their complete and total toward-the-Lord-ness—their faith!

The foolish virgins are left hopelessly trying to make arrangements to correct their miscalculation, their unfaithful projection. The ungiveable to are not given to. The Lord doesn’t force His Gifts, His salvation, His light, His oil on anyone. No one is coerced. He won’t force feed you. You don’t want it, you won’t have it. It’s rejectable. The judgment, on the other hand, is unrejectable: the door was shut! “I do not know you.”

Everything hangs on the Lord—even in the parables. So, no moralizing the parable! “They all sleep;” they all die. But more certain than even death itself is the Awakening and the Lord’s Coming—rose from the dead, will come again. You can live free and confident in the Lord’s coming because JESUS GIVES ALL THE OIL YOU NEED TO BE WISE FOR HIS COMING. To be wise is to be free of unbelieving shortsightedness, which is taken captive by other things, things that demand more time and energy than the Lord, things outwardly more appealing, apparently more certain than the Lord’s Coming and the Great Awakening.

But the Lord warns us: “Watch therefore for you do not know neither the day nor the hour.” He does, and you can only wait properly when you know the One you’re waiting for—the crucified and raised Bridegroom.

You know. You are known! You are baptized. More oil given there than you can ever manage to burn up in your little lifetime. So, we receive oil—more and more oil—from Him, and shine for those around us in our own little corner of the world.

INI + AMEN.

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