Epistle – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
1 But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord comes even as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that the day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all children of light and children of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore, let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep in the night, and those who are drunken, are drunken in the night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, so that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Therefore, comfort yourselves together and edify one another, even as you also do.
Gospel – Matthew 25:1-13
1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten virgins who took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them. 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, ‘Behold, the bridegroom comes. Go out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Not so, lest there not be enough for us and you. But rather go to those who sell and buy some 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. Then the door was shut. 11 Afterward, the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Therefore, watch, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man comes.
Are you ready for Jesus Christ to return on the Last Day? Jesus told this parable to admonish us to be watchful and ready at all times for His return.
Jesus here compares the kingdom of heaven to ten virgins who “took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” The wise virgins took extra oil for their lamps so that they would be ready even if the “bridegroom tarried.” The foolish took only the oil in their lamps and did not consider the possibility that their lamps would go out before the bridegroom arrived.
As a result, these foolish virgins were not prepared and ready when the bridegroom came; and they did not, with the wise virgins, enter with the bridegroom into the marriage feast.
With this parable, Jesus warns us against being foolishly unprepared for His return on the Last Day.
It is foolish for us who believe in Christ today to fall asleep and not be watching for His return. It is foolish not to have our faith continually nourished and kept burning through the regular use of the Word of God and the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper). AC V; FC, SD, XI, Par. 14-22; John 6:63; 8:31-32; Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; Phil. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:23-25; 2:2-3.
If we do not make such provision through the continued use of the Word of God in our homes and Word and Sacraments in our church, we may find our lamps empty and gone out (our faith dead) at Jesus’ coming.
Those who have no living, saving faith in Jesus Christ when He returns in Judgment will be shut out of heaven, for it will be too late to rekindle faith at that time! But those who have wisely provided oil for their lamps — those who continue to nourish their faith by remembering their Baptism, using the Word of God, and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ given and shed for the remission of sins, that the Holy Ghost may through these means keep their faith burning and give and assure to them the forgiveness of all their sins and of life everlasting for Jesus’ sake — these will enter into heaven with Jesus and enjoy its blessings forever (cf. 2 Thess. 1:4-12; Psalm 16:11; 17:15; Rev. 19:7-9; 21:1ff.).
With my lamp well trimmed and burning, swift to hear and slow to roam, watching for Thy glad returning to restore me to my home. Come, my Savior, Come, my Savior, O my Savior, quickly come. Amen. (John S.B. Monsell, 1863, The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #606, Verse 4)
[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]