Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Messiah Lutheran Church
Trinity 27 (November 22, 2009)
For an audio MP3 of this sermon, click this link: Trinity27-2009
TITLE: “Wake, Awake!”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the parable of the 10 virgins from Matthew 25. Let us pray:
Lord God, heavenly Father, send forth Your Son, we pray, to lead home His bride, the Church, that with all the company of the redeemed we may finally enter into His eternal wedding feast; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” So said our Lord. But the virgins don’t look too shiny sleeping in the middle of the night, as they are depicted here in our text. On earth their works were not thought wise, the hymn exclaims. By all appearances, the faith of the wise and the faith of the foolish appeared the same. You couldn’t tell the wise from the foolish as they slumbered.
Yet there is a difference. The Christian here on earth lives and breathes and struggles through life just like everyone else. But by the grace of God, you have the one thing needful. God in His mercy has given you the oil of gladness, faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ. This faith points you upward toward heaven. It means that no matter what you do here in this life, one ear is listening for the trumpet. There is a part of you that wonders, is it today? Will the bridegroom return today? Will our sorrowing have an end now? We pray it every day in Christ’s Church: Thy Kingdom Come. When it it be, Lord? When will you come back?
We don’t know, of course. We don’t know when the coming of the Son of God will be. It will be when we least expect it. He will come in glory, with His holy angels going before Him. They will cry out to a dying world, Wake, awake, your king is coming to you even now!
What will that mean for the redeemed, the Baptized into Christ on that last day? It means all sorrow will come to an end. It means that all the waiting and wondering and fear and heartache and anxiety and gunk of this life will be over. Our hymn exclaims that joy as follows:
Zion hears the watchmen singing,
And all her heart with joy is springing;
She wakes, she rises from her gloom.
For her Lord comes down all-glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious;
Her star is ris’n, her light is come.
Now come, Thou Blessèd One,
Lord Jesus, God’s own Son,
We enter all
The wedding hall
To eat the Supper at Thy call.
Yet there will be no second guessing that Last Day of our Lord. There is no place for salt-lookers in Christ’s kingdom. Set your eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Like the virgins in our text, the oil is yours and yours alone. You cannot believe for another, and God will not share your heart with anyone else. You are His, and His alone. The things of this life cannot hold you, dearly Baptized. If they hold you down, they will shackle you to the earth and will keep you from looking up to the Rising Sun, who comes with healing in His wings.
This is what we mean might call in the Church a holy indifference to the things of this world. It means receiving and rejoicing in what God has given you, but it means not letting those things which God has given you to overshadow the God who gave them to you. Practicing charity and love toward the neighbor means confessing that because Christ is coming again, the things of this life cannot hold you back and holy you down. For if they do, there is great danger in losing the oil of gladness as we try to hold on to and juggle all the things of this life in our hands.
The Last Day will be here soon. There will come a day when all of the evil of this life will pass by as a dream. The day is coming when Amen will be the only word that really makes sense at all. The evil of this place will be gone. Luther put it this way in his catechism:
But deliver us from evil.
What does this mean? We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.
So rejoice this day, dearly beloved. When your last hour comes, be it today or in fifty years, God will give you a blessed end, because you are His child, holy, baptized, a part of the family, with the oil of gladness. You are ready. Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.