unday of the Ten Virgins
November 25, 2018
Staying Awake Doesn't Save
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Last Sunday we heard a parable that was directed at the population of the whole world; today we hear a story about the church.
These ten virgins represent the Church on earth. These virgins are you who gather in God's house on Sunday. We are the virgins waiting for Jesus the bridegroom to arrive.
The Church is the bride and Jesus is the groom. He has laid down His life for His bride and we joyfully obey and submit to Him. We want Him to come and take us into His house forever.
But not every virgin is wise. Some are foolish. What's the difference? What they trust in. The wise virgins trust in Christ; we expect Him to come back for us and we expect Him to be good for us. Jesus knows us.
The foolish ones don't trust in Christ. They come to church, give offerings, bring hot dishes to potlucks, and more. They look like the Church. But they lack trust in Christ. Their hearts are false and Jesus knows it, and in the end He will not know them.
So all ten virgins look like the Church, but some don't believe. And they all fall asleep, even the ones who believe. What does that mean? It means that everyone in the Church are failures. What Jesus found and said on the night He was betrayed could be said to us: When He returned to the disciples, He found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Were you not strong enough to keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:37–38 EHV)
The flesh of the wise virgins is weak. Yet our husband saves us from our weakness. He forgives us even our failure to stay awake. So even though the wise believers fell asleep, they are ready because Jesus has given us trust in Him.
On the other hand, the foolish unbelievers who look like the Church will even in the end fail to call upon the name of the Lord for salvation. Who do they ask for help when time is up? Not the bridegroom, not Jesus, but other fellow human beings who cannot save. Like the goats of Jesus' parable last Sunday, they will appeal to themselves. Last week the unbelievers protested that they had done good works; this week they protest that they belonged to a church. I went to Gethsemane; I belonged to Saint Paul's. And Jesus will say, “Amen I tell you: I do not know you.” He doesn't say that He never knew them, doubtless many of these foolish virgins were know by Him. They were baptized, they came to church. But their hearts did not trust Him to save them.
Let us trust in Jesus' words and take them as a call to repent. We are here in God's house, and yet so often we fall asleep spiritually in the most predictable ways. We spend our waking hours worrying about the things of this world. Repent and trust in Jesus and spend your time with Jesus. This is the urgent cry of Paul to us. Let them find room in your heart and mind this week, even though Jesus will probably come back today.
So then let us not sleep like everyone else, but rather let us remain alert and sober. To be sure, those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. You see, God did not appoint us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are also doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:6–11 EHV)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Thanks be to God!
Pastor Boehringer has been preaching Christ and Him crucified to himself and to his congregation at Gethsemane since 2009.