- Sermon Notes
Ready or Not, Here He Comes
Illus. A little more time.
As we pick up in Matthew chapter 25 verse 1 to 13 this morning, we do so in the middle of Jesus giving several illustrations that bring insight and instruction surrounding the importance of remaining ready for His return. We have looked at much of what Jesus and the Bible have to say about the last days, the signs of the end times and we have done so while asking the questions: what does God’s Word say? What does it mean? And what does it mean to me?
Four times in the last 15 verses of Matthew 24 Jesus made the point that no one knows the day or the hour; 24:36, But of that day and hour no one knows; 24:51, the master will come on a day when the servant is not looking for Him and at an hour he is not aware of; 24:42, Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming; 24:44, For this reason you must be ready; the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not think He will. And today, in chapter 25:13 we will see a parable that paints the picture, and another pointed statement, “be on the alert then, for you do not know the day or the hour.”
When you see a theme so prominent in just a short section of the Scripture, it is clear that a point is being underlined by Jesus, “no one knows the day or the hour, so be ready!” In other words, ready or not, here He comes! But when He returns, some will be ready, and some will not be. We are to live as those who are ready because whether you are ready or not there is a day coming when Jesus will return and so your opportunity is to live ready and remain ready no matter the day.
The parable Jesus gives highlights the importance of preparation and readiness for His return. The context of the text is for those who are on earth at the end of the tribulation period when Jesus makes His return to earth, His Second Coming. But the application extends to us. As I have noted, the church will be raptured before the great tribulation and that could happen at any time. So, for any and all who are on earth, either now, or at the end of the tribulation, this Scripture and the reality of remaining ready, is important for all to see.
I. Learn What His Return Will Be Like
- To give further insight into what His return will be like, Jesus provides several parables and in Matthew 25:1-3, a parable centered on 10 bridesmaids waiting for the arrival of a bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five of them wise.
Read: Matthew 25:1-13
- Jesus said in verse one, that the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. The attendants were called virgins because it was a custom in that day that bridesmaids, or bridal attendants were virgins who themselves had never been married.
- To understand what He is saying most clearly, there are two important factors for us to look at.
- First, He is speaking in the form of a parable.
- Secondly, it is important to understand some of the specifics surround the Jewish wedding customs in that day. Jewish marriage customs of that day are quite difference than the way we do things in our day.
- While things were done differently in that day and that time, Jesus is speaking about what will happen in a future time and story He gives, perfectly applies.
- Throughout Scripture, Jesus as the bridegroom is something that is seen many times, additionally, the church is referred to as His bride.
Ephesians 5:31-32, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
- As we go through, we will look at how it all applies to the necessity of our readiness for Christ’s return, but also show the association between the Jewish marriage customs and the relationship you and I have with Christ. Some of those similarities will be clearly seen as learn what His return will be like.
Matthew 24:36, But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
- Interestingly this scripture aligns with Jesus’ words to us, but also with Jewish wedding tradition in Jesus’ day. As we go through some of the typical Jewish wedding customs, we will see additional similarities to the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church.
- Going in order, it was first the fathers who arranged the match, though, a key part of the process was a consultation of the daughter. The daughter would need to acknowledge her approval of the arrangement, it was not done against her will.
- At that point, a bride price was paid by the father of the groom, and a gift was given from the groom to the bride in addition to the bride price.
- The two would then enter into a covenant together which was customarily sealed by the drinking of a cup. At that point, a speech would be delivered, and the plans to prepare a place would be disclosed.
- It is at this point that the two were considered “betrothed.” Betrothal was somewhat like a modern engagement in that the marriage was not final, nor had the marriage been consummated, however it was at this point legally binding and could only be broken through a certificate of divorce.
- Certainly, we can already see some similarities here to the relationship we have with Christ: we enter into relationship with Him willingly, we enter into a covenant with Him, and it is symbolized by the cup of communion.
1 Corinthians 11:25, He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
- We are given salvation and the promise of eternal life, and the Holy Spirit personally in our hearts as a pledge.
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:21-22, Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
- But wait there is more, there is a bride price, paid for us to the Father which is the blood of Christ give on our behalf.
1 John 2:2, He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
- During the betrothal period in Jewish wedding customs, the bride would remain living in her father’s house preparing for the return of the groom. This betrothal period would generally take many months, often around a year.
- The groom would go to his father’s house to prepare a place, a home for He and his bride. This was usually an extension onto his father’s house, or a place on his father’s property.
- We see this similarity in a Scripture we have been looking at recently, given by Jesus to His disciples and to you and me!
John 14:1-3, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
- Groom goes and works on the house, and while the bride knew to expect her groom after about a year, she did not know the exact day or the hour. He could come earlier, or sometimes later.
- It was the father of the groom who would give final approval for the groom to go and collect his bride. The father would watch the grooms progress on the place being prepared and would say when the time was right, when it was ready.
- Once it was time to go, the father would tell the son, and when the house was completed, the provisions would be made for the wedding feast that would come after the bride was brought to the father’s house, and the groom would get ready and go to get his bride.
- The bride needed to be ready at all times, as did the bridesmaids. It is worth noting that the bride is not the subject of this parable. Once the bridegroom came to the home of the bride to receive the bride, there would be a procession through the streets after nightfall, to his home.
- The entire wedding party, the groom and his attendants, the bride and her bridesmaids would make their way to father’s house where the wedding ceremony would take place. The wedding feast would last for seven days.
- Everyone in the procession was expected to carry a lamp, and to light the lamp and keep it lit, oil was necessary in that day.
- Jesus points out that some of the bridesmaids were wise and had oil, and others were foolish and did not have oil. So it comes down to the differences between the wise and the foolish. This come with a call from Christ to the way in which we are to wait for His return.
- Wait Wisely
Matthew 25:2-4, Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
- Emphasis of the parable Jesus is giving is on the 10 bridesmaids, and of the 10, He tells us that five of them were wise, and the other five were foolish.
- Considering that the application at hand is of being ready for His return, lets look at the differences between the wise and foolish bridesmaids.
- First, they all had lamps.
- The lamps served a two-fold purpose:
- 1. To light the way for the procession back to the father’s house.
- 2. The lamps would identify those who were members of the wedding party. Each bridesmaid, then, needed a lamp.
- Both the wise and the foolish had lamps, but for those lamps to be lit and to remain lit, oil was necessary. Those who were foolish took no oil with them, but those who were wise took oil along with their lamps.
- The wise were fully prepared, and the unwise only giving the look of preparedness.
- The foolish bridesmaids had their lamps with them, they had the look of those who were prepared, but their lack of oil supply would leave them unprepared when the bridegroom arrived.
Matthew 25:5, While the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.
- The bridesmaids were aware that the groom was going to come soon, but he was delaying.
- What it seems to be is that the groom must have been taking much longer than they expected and when he returned for his bride, five were prepared and five were not.
- The fact the bridegroom was delaying sends a picture of intention to the reader. There was a reason for the delay. Additionally, it seems that the delay was the perception of those waiting for the bridegroom.
2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
- For me and for you, we do not know the day or the hour, but we know that He will return soon. Since the Lord’s desire is that people would turn to Him, we have an opportunity while we wait, it is a part of waiting wisely.
- Jesus contrasts the wise and foolish and its not the first time.
Matthew 7:24, 26; Everyone who hears these words of mine…
Matthew 7:24, Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Matthew 7:26, Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
- Both heard the words, one acted on them, one didn’t.
- Here in Matthew 25, Jesus draws the distinction between the wise and foolish bridesmaids on the day of His return.
- Some were wisely and fully prepared, others gave the appearance of being prepared, but they were only prepared in part.
Illus. Knowing the play.
- The foolish bridesmaids took no oil along with them. And the fact that they lacked oil was not clear until the actual return of the bridegroom.
- Throughout Scripture, oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. It is God’s Holy Spirt that fills those who believe in Christ at the moment of salvation.
Romans 8:9, You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
John 14:15-17, If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.
- If you know God and have given your life to Christ, you know the Spirit of truth, not only that, He lives with you and is in you.
- To not know God is to not have the Holy Spirit in you and have no oil. It is God’s Spirit that only He can give.
- On the day of His return, there will be those who look the part, but have not waited wisely and received Christ and Lord and Savior.
- They are amongst those who are prepared, and seem to be ready according to what people see visually, but they have no oil, they do not have the Holy Spirit in them, they have not chosen Him as the only way for them, and place their faith and trust in Him sincerely.
- Let the Lord Prepare You Personally
- The bridesmaids who had no oil seemed to be exactly like the others until the grooms coming, and when their lack of oil was clearly seen, they were left behind.
- They knew he was coming soon but didn’t even ask about the oil until that day and that time. They didn’t move in the direction of what they knew they would need until the midnight hour, and at that time, it was too late.
- What this means for you and for me in our day is that we need to hear Jesus’ words, understand that we need a relationship with Him personally and wait for Him with great fervency.
Ephesians 5:15-18, Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is but be filled with the Spirit.
- There is much that we can fill up on, but Paul tells us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, let nothing else satisfy.
- The bridesmaids went to the other bridesmaids to ask for a portion of their oil when the groom returned, but what they had was not enough for them. They should have remained prepared personally.
- And on the day of Christ’s return, what I have is what God has given me, I need Him to prepare me personally, and so you do.
Illus. Personally Applied.
Zechariah 4:6, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.’”
- It is not by your might, nor by your power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. And when you make your life available and open your heart to Him, He will prepare you personally.
- There are two items of note that I find quite interesting.
- The first is the lamp. In Scripture, the Word of God is likened to a lamp.
Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
- The bridesmaids understood that the groom was going to return, that he had given his word, made the promise, they had their lamps.
- But they had no oil to light their lamps. And oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
John 3:5, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
- Just like the lamp is likened to God’s word, so is water (Eph. 5:26-27, John 15:3). John 3 tells us that a person has to be born of water and the Spirit.
- That is an interesting picture because in Genesis 1:1-3, we see that the earth was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the deep, but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters and God said, let there be light!
- The Holy Spirit was moving over the surface of the waters and the world was created.
- So too for you and me, it is the Holy Spirit moving upon the water of God’s word that stirs our faith, our points us toward hope, and beckons us to believe. When you do, the Holy Spirit lives in you personally.
Ephesians 1:13-14, In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take extra oil with them; but the prudent ones took oil in flasks with their lamps. Now while the groom was delaying, they all became drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there finally was a shout: ‘Behold, the groom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish virgins said to the prudent ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ However, the prudent ones answered, ‘No, there most certainly would not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the groom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Yet later, the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, because you do not know the day nor the hour.