Quality of Discipleship - Preparedness (Matthew 25:1-3)

Daryl Miller, September 18, 2016
Part of the Quality of Discipleship series, preached at a Sunday Morning service

SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 18
Title: Quality of Discipleship - Preparedness (The Parable of the Virgins)
Text: “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 25:13).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:1 - 3
Introduction
The parable of the virgins probably reflects accurately the customs of a Palestinian wedding. Jesus’ story may recount an actual incident. Wedding customs vary widely from country to country and from century to century. Imagine a modern reporter writing up a wedding without mentioning the bride!

According to the usual custom, the wedding took place at night at the home of the bride. The festivities celebrating the wedding took place at the home of the bridegroom. On the journey to the bridegroom’s home, invited guests could join the wedding party. Each guest, however, must have a lamp. This probably was a small oil lamp with a wick mounted on a stick as a torch. The lamp itself would hold little oil so that if a person were to be out long at night, he or she would need to carry an extra supply. Our story is about ten bridesmaids who expected to join the bridegroom and the wedding party. Five wisely carried an extra supply of oil. Five foolishly took a chance. After all, it was inconvenient for maidens in beautiful dresses to bother with vessels of oil.
A part of the excitement of the occasion was that no one knew the exact time the bridal party would come. The bridegroom delayed beyond the expected time. The girls all began to nod and then fell asleep. No one blamed them for falling asleep. At midnight the servant came ahead of the bridegroom, calling loudly for all to trim their lamps and be ready to meet the bridegroom. Five made their lamps ready. The other five discovered that their lamps were flickering out. They asked the wise maidens to share their oil. They replied, “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves” (v. 9). No bazaars would be open at midnight. By the time they awakened some sleepy shopkeeper, secured oil, and returned, the bridegroom already would have come and gone. They that were ready went with him into the house for the marriage celebration, and the door was shut. The maidens came to the closed door and begged for admission, but in accord with custom they were not admitted.
The Lord himself pointed out the lesson he was enforcing by use of this parable: “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (v. 13).
I. What is the Lord’s coming?
Jesus Christ’s return at the end of the gospel age is the theme of a group of parables of which this parable is one. The record of events of this Tuesday before our Lord’s crucifixion on Friday is the fullest of that for any day in the gospel records. Early that morning as Jesus, accompanied by his disciples, went to the temple to teach, the disciples noted that the fig tree that Christ had cursed had withered. In the temple, Jesus defended his right to teach and told the parable of the two sons, the parable of the wicked householders, and the parables of the marriage feast and of the wedding garment. He gave honest answers to loaded questions about the tribute money, the resurrection, and the greatest commandment. He silenced his enemies with a pertinent question as to how the Messiah could be both David’s son and David’s Lord (see Matt. 21:18?–?22:46). Matthew 23 records Jesus’ scathing denunciation of the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees.
On the Mount of Olives that same day, our Lord spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem and of his second coming in a great eschatological discourse recorded in Matthew 24?–?25, of which the parable of the virgins is a part. He will come in great power and glory to end the age. The redeemed living on earth will join the redeemed he brings with him at the right hand of the throne of his glory. The unsaved all will be gathered on his left hand. He will pronounce the eternal states of all and will make manifest the righteousness of his judgments and of his rewards. He said that no one knows the day or hour of his coming. It will be at an unexpected time. As in the days of Noah when a flood came, people will be going about their usual activities when he comes. There will be no need to seek for the Lord when he comes again. His coming will be as plain as the lightning that is seen across the whole heaven. As easily and naturally as vultures find a carcass, all people will be gathered about Jesus at his second coming. Everyone will see him.
II. Be ready for his coming.
A. A series of parables that Jesus then told emphasizes this theme: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matt. 24:42). They are the parable of the two women grinding at the mill (Matt. 24:41?–?42), the parable of the thief (24:43?–?44), the parable of the good and evil servants (24:45?–?51), the parable of the virgins (25:1?–?13), the parable of the talents (25:14?–?30), and the parable of the last judgment (25:31?–?46).
B. How does one watch for Jesus’ return? How does one get ready to meet the Lord? In the parable, the requirement was that each bridesmaid should meet the bridegroom with a lighted torch.
It is required that one become a child of God by the new birth. God in love has provided salvation. One accepts that salvation by repentance and faith. When God saves, he justifies, regenerates, adopts, and gives eternal life. Those who are saved do not fear to meet the Lord, because their sins have been forgiven and they are seeking faithfully to do the Lord’s will. They are as loyal servants who joyfully look for their master’s return.
Each person must prepare for the Lord’s return by believing for himself or herself. No one can believe for another. There is no proxy religion. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). Just as the foolish bridesmaids could not borrow from the wise, no one can borrow another’s salvation.
The foolish bridesmaids did not have time to make preparation after the bridegroom approached. The time to get ready to meet God is now. When he comes to end the age, it will be too late to get ready. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
III. Be ready to meet God at death.
The Lord may come to end the gospel age at any time. He may come before the end of your life, or he may not come for thousands of years. Every argument advanced for being ready to meet the Lord at his second coming is an argument for meeting the Lord in judgment at death. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

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