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“The ready virgins entered with the Bridegroom into the wedding feast, and the door was shut.”
᛭ INI ᛭
With Jesus by your side, you’re in. You can only get in with Jesus. He’s the Bridegroom. The eternal Son of God came into the flesh to save His Bride, the Church. He died for her, shed His blood for her, to present Her to Himself “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,” “holy and without blemish.” He is one with His bride, one flesh, on body with Her, and you and I are members of His body, the Church.
You’ve been sanctified by the washing of water with the Word. You’ve been nourished with His body and blood. You and I a members of His body through His body. And not only are you in, you’re really in. “The door was shut.” You’re secure and safe on the inside. Jesus brings you in, shuts the door, and there you are with Him safe and secure forever. That’s what Jesus does for you, too. He gets you in and keeps you in.
That’s how it is for the “wise” virgins. They were wise, prudent, used all their smarts. “No amount of oil is ever enough. The Bridegroom comes when He chooses,” they think. “Best prepare for His coming.” Their’s is the way of faith. Heart and mind fixed on the Bridegroom and His coming. If oil is what you need, then, well, oil is what they bring. Not just a little, not just enough, no, more than enough!
He gets you in. Only He can. Only He does. No Jesus, well, that means you’re not getting into the wedding feast. With Jesus on the inside, those without faith will be securely out. “Go away. I never knew you,” Jesus will reply.
That’s how it is for the “foolish.” “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no god.’” The foolish do not have faith in Jesus. There are many reasons for their being foolish. Maybe it’s the foolishness of Jesus cross. “Christ crucified is foolishness to those who are perishing.” Maybe it was the lack of power and sign, the lack of worldly empowerment and life-improvement, maybe the deceitfulness of riches.
The foolish thought they knew the Bridegroom better than the Bridegroom! They’d figured on when he’d come. They’d figured on their lifespan. How long they’ve got to make things right with the Lord. Always figuring. They say, “How much oil do I really need? I know when enough is enough. I’ve got enough to squeak by. How much longer can He really be anyway?” Just like 2 Peter from last week: “Where is the promise of His coming.” Fools. Scoffers.
How we play the fool with the Lord! It’s doesn’t matter if it’s His Word or His Sacraments, we’re always figuring. What can you cut and trim and leave out and still be ok? Surely, we don’t need more forgiveness. Do we really need it all that often? Surely, we don’t need more Spirit. Surely, we don’t need all that to be ready, do we?
Baptism, the preaching of the Gospel, the Bible, Holy Absolution, the mutual forgiveness of Christians, the Lord’s Supper all deliver forgiveness to you. (Besides that we can for forgiveness, “as we do in the Lord’s Prayer.” see! More word! More promise! The Lord hearkens, hears and answers that prayer.) The Means of Grace are how the Spirit works on your heart and mind to make you wise.
The foolish fall into figuring and calculating and pitting one gift against the other: “I need that more, that one less. This most of all. That one not at all.” The wise on the other hand do nothing of the sort. They cling to their lamps along with their jars full of oil. Enough is never enough. You need a lamp to see, to follow the Bridegroom, and lamps need oil. Get the oil, and the Lamp will lead you in the Path of the Bridegroom.
All the virgins wakeup. They rise from the dead. “Sleep” is often a metaphor for death in the Bible. That’s one way it’s used in our Epistle reading today. Jesus also uses it that way for Jairus’ daughter: “She’s not dead, only sleeping.” Those with faith in Jesus and those without faith in Jesus will rise from the dead on the Last Day. Jesus will send out the Spirit, and He “will raise me and all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.”
It comes without warning. Suddenly, unexpected, “Behold, the Bridegroom! Come out to meet Him!” The foolish cannot make up for their miscalculation. They are trapped by their failure to believe Jesus: “Watch. You don’t know the day nor the hour.” They lack oil. No Spirit. (Oil is a sign of the Spirit in the Bible.) No Spirit means they have no faith, no wisdom. And the Word and the Gifts of Jesus, which are the visible Word, are not a “Lamp for their feet and a light to their path,” without the Spirit and faith. Dead words. Darkness. “Depart from me.”
The wise have the Spirit in abundance! He’s been at work in their lives from the smallest point, up until the they “grew weary and slept.” Baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, who is the Bridegroom, and the Holy Spirit. They rejoiced in the Spirit-filled Word of God. Whether that Word is in the Bible, or the Word of the Gospel, the Word of Baptism, the Word of Absolution, or even “this is My body, this is My blood.” “These words along with the bodily eating and drinking are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say, ‘forgiveness of sins.’”
For the wise enough was never enough. How could they pass up on oil? The Bridegroom is the Bridegroom. He comes when He chooses. So also you. The Lord Jesus gives His forgiveness, the forgiveness of all your sins. All sins. Each time, every time. Why? He knows you need Him to. Best not to argue.
He gives His Spirit to you. More oil than you can burn up in one life time. The Spirit strengthens and “keeps you the true faith.” He keeps you trusting Jesus. He uses the Lamp of God’s Word to lead you in path of faith, following Jesus into the wedding feast. “The wedding feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end.”
With Jesus by your side, you’re in. You can only get in with Jesus. He’s the Bridegroom. And not only are you in, you’re really in. “The door was shut.” The “foolish,” those without faith, get locked out. The “wise,” those with faith, go in safe and secure with Jesus their Savior. And there you’ll be safe forever with Him.