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On this final Sunday, we once again find ourselves faced with fear as Jesus returns and says to you today,
We hear of one other person resting in the 3rd Commandment. In it the Lord demands a remembrance of the Sabbath Day. The day He rested from His work of creating. Now you get to rest in the same way God does. Its not obedience and its not that God stops working, its that you get to put your feet up and hear that it is God taking care of all things, even you.
How do you know? You hear and learn God’s Word. For it is only in hearing that you receive Faith and it is only by faith alone that you hold it sacred and learn it. One of the holiest works God gives you to do is to gladly hear and learn preaching and His Word.
It is easy to say that the 10 virgins do a bad thing by falling asleep, but I say to you they are hearing that 3rd commandment and obeying. It is not the work you do in keeping your lamp, it is the Lord’s work in giving and maintaining your lamp of faith. In the same way it is your duty to rest everyday, meaning hear and learn God speaking to you.
But you can not do this on your own. In order to hear, someone has to preach. Even the world understands this. Education is best given through a teacher. However, even though everyone hears the Word, not everyone reacts the same way to it. When the Holy Spirit enters, you either believe Him or reject Him.
Remember Daniel and the lions! King Darius had just come into power over all of the empire of
Daniel had gained his favor, so the king had heard the Word from Daniel and so
had all the princes and other rulers. And when they heard it, they rejected it
and conspired to throw Daniel to the lions.
But who else heard the Word? The lions! They heard God and obeyed, setting aside their normal God-given task of eating meat. They heard the ultimate power that created the universe and couldn’t help but believe that it was their Creator telling them what to do.
So we also hear Isaiah speaking God’s own Word and prophesying about lions eating straw like the ox. The Word of God is performative; it’s creative; it does what it says. If God said let black be blue, then it would happen. If God said day is night, it would be so. If God said come unto me all who are weary and I will give you rest, then that is what happens.
When God says take your lamps, meet the Bridegroom, and watch all these things are done to you. You are given the lamp, you are given the Bridegroom, and watching is a passive activity. All these things are given to you in order to comfort you and make you realize that God is doing the work, but that you are in the right place.
There is no command from God to keep your lamp burning or filled with oil. There is no command to create or make sure there is a Groom. There IS the command to be at the right place with the right equipment. There is the command to greet the Bridegroom when He arrives and there is the command to go with Him.
Repent. What God gives to His Church, He offers freely and abundantly. Church is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We could have Service everyday. We could have Bible class everyday. You can come in for private Confession everyday.
Instead we have Service once, maybe twice a week. Bible class is twice a week. We are the 5 foolish virgins seeking God’s Word in a place other than where God has said it would be.
Jesus is the Light of the World, which is better than any old lamp to begin with. Jesus is the Groom who chases after His bride in all her faithless wanderings. Jesus neither slumbers nor sleeps in His constant regard for your faith and your salvation.
Baptized into His Light, you are not a child of darkness, groping about as if blind to the facts. You understand. You see clearly. You know the height, the depth, and the breadth. Your mirror may be dim and your vision of the future cloudy, but Christ on the cross is visible through those obstacles.
The Word of God has called you by His Gospel. That sound has made you a child of God, birthing faith within you. So perfect is this gift that you become a virgin; fresh and clean. Free form any spot or blemish. The invitation for the feast goes out and you are there. The announcement, “Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord” is given and you stand in front of the Bridegroom.
Nourished and strengthened by the Lord’s Supper, you constantly receive forgiveness, which is your lifeblood. This is the blood of the Spirit which surges through your veins, creating a spirit of constant watchfulness. You want to hear more of God’s Word in Bible Class. You want to receive more of God’s Word in Church and you want to cry out to everyone else, “The Bridegroom approaches!”
This is your life now, in these last days. It is not “I better or else”, but “I can’t believe I get to!” It is simply unthinkable and unbelievable that God has made you like God. What Adam and Eve attempted in sin, God succeeds at through the cross. Not in lowering Himself, but in elevating you.
Whenever you speak God’s Word, you speak with the creative force that birthed the universe. Whenever you hear the Word, you are hearing the very words that sustain all life today. This is the gift that Jesus packs into a neat little box of a church and a convenient book. This is the gift you are given this day.
Nevertheless, there is greater yet to come. Even though such a wonderful series of events is taking place here, at the Word of God, but even more is to take place when Christ returns. The lesser is on earth. The greater is in the new heavens and on the new earth, living forever in the true
Temple, that is Jesus.
The End will come and when it does, to be sure you will be in the right place by grace alone, but all this will pass away. It will not matter how bright your lamp is, how clean your clothes are, or how well you stayed awake.
It will not matter how rich or poor you were or how well you did this or that task set before you. Nothing else will matter, even this day. For you will look back and there will only be the narrow, golden path that lead you to Christ’s side. All the chaff will be burned away.
You will make it through unscathed, though you were scarred. You will make it through perfectly healthy, though you were full of disease. You will make through strong as an ox, though you were feeble. You will make it through richer than Solomon, though you could not even buy bread. You will find rest, though you worked to death.
You will look back and see that the only thing that mattered was you setting aside the work you do so that God would work in you.
For, if it is true that the living Christ comes among His gathered people to teach them and feed them in public worship, and
if it is true that the life of the Church flows to her from Christ Himself, then
what is more important than weekly gathering together to receive His Gifts and responding to Him with our prayers and offerings?