The Coming Bridegroom

Home Church Service 6/5/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.”

“The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 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, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”                                                Matthew 25:1-13 (NASB)

We conclude our series on The Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospel account of Matthew with our eighth and final message. Thus far in this series we have learned much about the kingdom. In Heavenly Pursuits we learned that the kingdom is to be our first and most important pursuit; then we learned there is An Enemy at Work who plants in the same fields, sowing seeds that look like those who are planted by Jesus. In Seeds of the Kingdom, we learned that the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, but when fully grown it is a tree that is large enough to provide shelter for all who would come. As we moved further into series, we learned that we must be Sold Out for the Kingdom for it is more valuable than any hidden treasure, however, it must be shared to be enjoyed.

Next, we learned how the dragnet was used in Gathering the Catch as many respond to the call of the kingdom but many of those who respond will be lacking and thus separated at the return of Christ; then we learned how The Call for Kingdom Workers goes out early, often and continues late but it matters not when you respond for all are equal in the eyes of God. Last week we learned that everyone receives an invitation to join the kingdom but only those who hear, accept and respond properly to the call will be gathered together as part of The Chosen Few.  Which brings us to our final message of the series where we learn of the deepening distinction people two types of people and that there are in fact times when it is too late. WE must be fully prepared as we wait for The Coming Bridegroom.

The kingdom of heaven can be compared to virgins who went out to meet The Coming Bridegroom. Some are foolish while others are prudent, but all fall asleep when the bridegroom delays his return. The prudent, who can trim their lamps, join the wedding feast while the foolish, who cannot trim their lamps, are locked out as unknown.

The kingdom of heaven is like virgins preparing to meet The Coming Bridegroom. Some are unprepared while others are fully prepared, but all fall asleep before the bridegroom returns. Those who are fully prepared are invited to the feast while those who are unprepared remain separated.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why is it important to be fully prepared for The Coming Bridegroom?”

Because we do not know the day or the hour of The Coming Bridegroom, we must stay prepared, for only the prepared will be gathered together.

1). The first reason we must be fully prepared – as the day grows longer and the people grow weary, there will be a deep contrast between the foolish and the prudent as The Coming Bridegroom returns.

The foolish will be caught unaware and try to use the resources of the fully prepared.

This parable begins with the phrase, “Then the kingdom of heaven…” Then when? What does Jesus mean when He says, “Then…?” This parable is part of what is known as the Olivet Discourse, chapters 24 & 25 of Matthew’s gospel account. At the beginning of chapter 24, Jesus and the disciples come out of the Temple and the disciples begin to point out the temple buildings. Jesus then makes the startling statement that not one stone would be left upon another in that place. The disciples come to Jesus privately and ask Him when this will happen and what will be the signs they should look for. Jesus then launches into a long teaching to prepare the disciples for what is to come.

This parable points to conditions in THIS AGE, the age when the kingdom operates in a “mystery” manner. Specifically, the teaching is about readiness because we have no idea as to the time of the return of Jesus. There are clues, to be sure, but to pinpoint a day and hour is not possible. So, this parable depicts conditions at the end of the ages, right before the return of Christ Jesus.

The background used by Jesus is the Jewish wedding ceremony. This is not only a joyous occasion but one that is also a long-drawn-out occasion. The couple would not take a honeymoon as we know it today but would rather stay home and greet guests and those who would come to greet them. This is not a regimented, strictly scheduled event as many are today, rather it is a relaxed occasion with no set time for the bridegroom to come and take his bride. The festivities would last a week and, on some occasions, as long as two weeks.

In the parable, the virgins are unmarried bridesmaids, they wait to greet the bridegroom and take him into the house. Once the entire wedding party has been assembled, they all form a processional to the bridegroom’s home. When they arrive at the bridegroom’s home, the wedding party enters, and the door is shut. So, the foolish virgins in the parable miss not one meal but the entire week of events.

In the parable, the bridegroom has delayed his coming and all of the virgin’s fall asleep. At the announcement of the arrival of the bridegroom, all of the virgins awaken and prepare to trim their lamps. These are not the typical small lamps, able to fit in the palm of your hand, used to light a room in the home, these are larger lamps used to light the way as the processional walks to the bridegroom’s home. They are dome-shaped containers with rags soaked in oil to burn for an extended period of time – usually several hours – when extra oil was brought along. In this case, the prudent were prepared for a long wait.

A key moment arises as the foolish virgins ask for some of the oil brought by the prudent. Their answer is a resounding, “NO, there won’t be enough for both of us. Go buy some from a dealer.” The prudent are not being rude, just very practical. Why should everyone suffer and miss the festivities because of the mistakes of a few? While it appears the foolish found oil, or maybe they did not and just stumble around in the darkness, the fact remains they arrive too late as the door has been shut!!

Jesus is, of course, the bridegroom, the One we await now. No one knows the exact day or hour He will return, but one day He will return to claim His bride – the church who is now being prepared. The virgins, of course, represent Christians – some of which are unprepared, perhaps thinking there is plenty of time to get prepared; some are fully prepared – ready to meet the bridegroom today! The message is clear, because we do not know the time of return – BE PREPARED!!

Several things we must take note of here – first, the virgins representing Christians – all look the same, but they are not. Only half of them are fully prepared for the return of the bridegroom – only they will be invited in to enjoy the feast with the bride and the groom. Readiness is the key here – because we do not know the day or the hour, be alert, keep watch – BE PREPARED!! Jesus speaks these words directly to His DISCIPLES. That includes you and I, for once again we see a distinction being made between two different types of people – the true disciples of Jesus will be fully prepared at all times, ready to meet the Jesus at any moment! Those who are not ready are locked out and hear the words, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.”

Because we do not know the day or the hour of The Coming Bridegroom, we must stay prepared, for only the prepared will be gathered together.

2). The second reason we must be fully prepared – only the prudent who are fully prepared when The Coming Bridegroom returns will be gathered together in the kingdom.

The foolish will still seek entry into the kingdom only to be rejected as those who are unknown.

That brings us to the second thing we must take note of – there are times when it is too late – if you have been fired from your job, its too late to say you will try harder; if you are in class and it is test time, it is too late to study. There are endless examples, but the point is clear – there are times when it is simply too late! When Jesus comes and the door has been closed and the words have been spoken – IT IS TOO LATE!!! Take this lesson to heart – readiness, preparedness is the key – do not put it off any longer!

At the end of our lives or when Christ does return, it will be too late. There is one lesson that will help lead to maturity and an understanding of the importance of being prepared, that lesson is  – our lives are not our own, we were bought at a price and it can be taken from us at any moment. We are ready when our relationship with God and with others are what they should be. We are ready when, at any moment of the day, regardless of our surroundings, we are unashamed to meet the Lord.

The illustration of the five foolish virgins and their lack or preparedness is the dramatic representation of the unthinkable. Can you imagine any bride or groom being unprepared or late to their own wedding today? In this age of social media that person would be grilled on a spit over an open fire! For those who call themselves disciples of Jesus, who love Him and are committed to Him, it is just as unthinkable that we do not make ourselves ready for His return.

This parable points directly to the personal nature of our relationship with Christ Jesus. Our commitment and our desire to see Jesus face-to-face when He returns should drive us, each individual and church, to be fully prepared for His return. Our behavior now should be linked to our desired behavior in the future. Our attitude of readiness allows our eternal perspective to make our everyday petty concerns insignificant and much more manageable.

Because we do not know the day or the hour of The Coming Bridegroom, we must stay prepared, for only the prepared will be gathered together.

Thus far we have learned much about the kingdom of heaven. We have learned that our Heavenly Pursuits must be the first and most important of our pursuits; we have learned there is an enemy who plants seeds to look like the true disciple of Jesus. We then learned of the kingdom through the mustard seed who, though the smallest of seeds, grows to be large enough to provide shelter for all who would come; and we learned we must be sold out for the kingdom for it is more valuable than any hidden treasure we might find, but it needs to be shared to be enjoyed.

We next learned the dragnet is used in gathering the catch and found that many will respond to the call of the kingdom, but many will be found lacking and must be separated; the call for kingdom workers goes out early, often and continues late and we learned that it does not matter how long you have served or been a member of the church, for all are equal in the eyes of God. Our last message taught us that everyone receives an invitation to the kingdom, but it is only those who hear, accept and respond properly who will be gathered together as part of the chosen few when Jesus returns. Our final message of the series shows us the need to be fully prepared as we wait for the coming bridegroom.

So, what can we take from this message? What can we do moving forward? We must be prepared, fully prepared at all times to meet Jesus. This brings us to the third thing I mentioned we must take note of within this parable – something just cannot be borrowed. Some Christians focus so much on the return of Christ when He will come in glory, that they show little concern for being prepared now – thinking there is plenty of time to prepare when the end begins to unfold. Other Christians spend so much time and energy focusing on the expectation of a soon return, that they spend little or no time preparing for the long haul. We must have a balance of the immediate and the long-term in our preparedness.

The point here us you must possess, for yourself, whatever it takes to be prepared to meet Jesus. NO ONE can stand in for you! This is all on you – on each individual Christian – there is no one else. Holiness is one of those things that cannot be borrowed or traded for – you must possess your own holiness. If you are not what you profess – if you are not walking the walk and talking the talk – no one else can help you. You must live your life daily as a fully prepared disciple of Jesus!

From this final point I hope it is clear to see that time is short and you must not put off your preparation any longer. There is a time when it will be too late and rather than being invited into the kingdom, the door will be shut and you are in danger of hearing the words, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” These are words that no true disciple of Jesus wants to hear, and they should put a fear deep in our hearts and send shivers up our spines. It is only by the grace of God and by His desire to see all come to repentance and salvation that there is still time to begin today, but do not put it off any longer. Time is truly short so if you need help in making certain you are fully prepared to meet Jesus, feel free to reach out to the is ministry or find a truly biblical church in your local area.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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