Everyone will stand before God on the last day, even those who mock Him and claim He doesn’t exist. All will stand before Him, and nothing will be more tragic than to be unprepared to meet Him. Nothing will be more tragic than to hear those words, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”
It’s not that God wants anyone to be unprepared. God sent His Son for all. God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Christ died and rose again for all. He wants not one single soul to perish. So Christ says it in words that everyone can understand, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
Even our most prized earthly possessions will be completely worthless on the last day. So why do we become so focused on them, and why do we pay them so much attention, when they never really satisfied our soul anyway? Many things that we thought were so important will mean absolutely nothing on the last day. One thing will mean everything: Faith in Jesus Christ.
Is He not the only one who went to the cross to prepare a place for us in heaven? Is He not the only one who keeps calling us by the Gospel, by His Spirit, giving us the assurance that all our sins are forgiven? Faith in Christ means everything. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
We all have our earthly priorities, and we all have our earthly things, but “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” The good news is that God has more forgiveness than the whole world has sin. His only-begotten Son has already suffered the true punishment for all our sins on the cross. Therefore, He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
There is hope. There is salvation even for the worst of sinners, because Christ did enough. He promises that no matter how dark our past has been, “him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” Nothing is more important than being ready to meet Him by repenting of our sins, believing in Him, partaking of His Word and Sacraments, and receiving that assurance that He has done enough to save us from our sins.
Jesus paints a vivid picure that everyone can understand. Everyone knows what a wedding is. Everyone knows what a groom is, what a bride is, bridesmaids, groomsmen, the ceremony, and celebration.
As children we all remember being dragged to some weddings. Whether we wanted to go or not, we went, and probably ended up having more fun than what we thought we would. Weddings are a time of joy and celebration, at time of laughter, a time of dancing, because this is where God unites man and wife, the means by which God chooses to continue to bring life into this world (after the marriage of Adam & Eve). It’s a special time.
Jesus describes a wedding in first century Palestine. With no electricity in their day, ten virgins take their lamps, because surely the celebration will extend into the night. At some point the groom will be coming to get them, and take them into the wedding. But the key is that, they don’t know when he will come. There wasn’t a set time. At any given time, the groom can come. It might only be a little while. It might be kind of a while. It might be a really long while. The key is that they must be ready at any given time. They will know when it’s time, not when someone gives them an hour or two advance warning. They will know when it’s time the very moment the groom arrives. Ready or not, he comes.
Jesus Christ is our groom. We, the Church, are His bride. And the good news is that, our groom gave His life for His bride. He has given to us all that He is, and all that He has. He laid it all down. He put it all on the line for us, on the cross, and He took it up again, so that He could take away everything that separated us from God. He took away our sins. He made us acceptable to the Father. He that believes on Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.
He is coming again. He warns us that He will return at a time unbeknownst to us, but not because He wants to catch us off guard. He warns us because He wants us to be ready. He wants nothing more than to be able to say to us, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
So in Christ’s parable, for whatever reason, the bridegroom tarried (he delayed). And so all ten virgins slumbered and slept. Surely we can understand that. He didn’t come until midnight, and if we were there, we surely would have done the same thing. After waiting for hours, at night, the most natural thing to do is to sleep.
It’s been almost 2000 years since Christ ascended into heaven. Scripture says: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”
We all have this tendency to sleep spiritually – to forget. It’s as natural as sleeping at night. We get so focused on our earhtly things, our earthly activities, our earthly careers, our earthly homes. And it’s not that we shouldn’t work hard, and pay attention to these things. But not so much that we allow the cares and riches of this life to choke God’s Word and Spirit right out of us.
Jesus says life is more than meat and drink, and clothing. He says, one thing is needful. Christ has that one thing. He has the words of eternal life, and in those words, we do find rest for our eternal soul.
Five of the virgins were wise, five were foolish. All ten slept, but only five had enough oil to get them through the night. It wasn’t that the foolish ones didn’t have an opportunity. They all knew this day was coming, and they all knew they would be faced with the all-important moment, ready or not.
They all had only one responsibility – one task – one thing to take care of. It’s not rocket science. They just needed enough oil ahead of time. But 5 of them couldn’t seem to be bothered with it.
By God’s Grace, today is yet another opportunity, to repent of our sins, and to have our faith strengthened in God’s Word, to partake of the water of life freely.
Our Heavenly Father fills our lamps with oil. His Spirit continues to call us by the Gospel, and He gives us that assurance our sins are completely forgiven in Christ. He gives us the faith to believe and He sustains us in it until our very last day.
Our one responsibility is to remain in God’s Word. For that is the one thing needful that brings rest and peace to our soul. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Christ keeps calling us by those words, saying, “Come to Me. Believe in Me. All things are now ready.” “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And we do find rest unto our soul.
"Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when He cometh shall find watching." Amen.