- Sermon Notes
Watch and Be Ready
Matthew 25 follows chapter 24 without any break at all. Jesus is still giving a message to His disciples which we now call the Olivet Discourse. This section began when Jesus prophesied that the city of Jerusalem and the Temple itself would be completely destroyed, "Not one stone left upon another," Jesus said.
The disciples then came to Jesus when He was sitting on the Mount of Olives and asked the questions, "Tell us, when will these things be and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?"
Jesus then gave them the "signs of the times" so that we might discern and understand the conditions that will take place in the world that will indicate that we are in the last days. The condition of things that He lists for them are interesting because we see so many of them being fulfilled before our eyes.
Jesus said there would be many false prophets and false messiahs who would mislead many. There will be wars and rumors of war. There will be famines and earthquakes that will grow with greater intensity and be closer together as the events of the last days draw nearer. There will be a great falling away, or apostasy, as unrighteousness of worldliness increases and most people's love will grow cold.
Jesus also said, "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when it's branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door."
Jesus then gives several parables to give insight and instruction on the importance of watching for the return of the Son of Man and having our lives be ready.
He said, "The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah, before the flood. They were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage and did not understand until the flood came and took them all away."
He said that the Lord would come like a thief in the night. "If the master of the house had known what hour the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert. For this reason you to be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you did not think He will."
Now, as we come to chapter 25, Jesus gives another parable about the importance of watching and being ready. This is a parable about 10 bridesmaids who were waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five of them were wise.
This is a parable with great application and if we have a heart to receive it, can radically change our relationship to the Lord.
I. Jesus Returns as a Bridegroom
- Jesus uses a parable of a bridegroom coming for his bride, but focuses the parable on the ten bridesmaids.
- Remember that a parable is given to teach one main point and should not be overstretched to try to glean every bit of theology possible.
- But it is important to understand that Jesus uses the picture of Him being the bridegroom over and over in scripture.
- So it would be important for us to understand what took place in a Jewish wedding in that day in order for us to understand what Jesus is teaching us about His relationship to the church.
- You might also be interested to know that many of our modern wedding traditions come right out of the same wedding traditions that Jesus spoke of here in Matthew 25 and in other places in the scriptures.
A. Only the father knows the day or the hour
- In Matthew 24:36, Jesus said that only the Father alone knows the day and the hour. But that comes right out of Jewish wedding tradition.
- Let's go through a typical Jewish wedding from beginning to end and see the similarities to the relationship between Christ and His church.
- First of all, it's important to understand that a woman was not required to marry against her will. The groom must ask the father's permission, but then he must also ask her permission as well.
- If she agreed to the proposal, he would give her a gift. It might have been a coin, but later, a ring became the tradition. They would then enter into a covenant together, symbolized by drinking a cup together. The groom then says, "Behold, you are consecrated (set apart) unto me with this gift according to the laws of Moses and Israel." The two are then considered "betrothed" and though the marriage is not consummated, only a certificate of divorce can separate them.
- Right there we see many similarities; we come by our own free will into a relationship to Christ. We enter into the New Covenant with Him. It's even symbolized by the cup of communion.
- He even gives us a "down payment," you might say when He gives the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 1:22, God… who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
- Even a price has been paid for us to the Father, the very blood of Christ is given in our behalf.
- The groom then goes away in order to prepare a home for them. This was usually an extension on his father's house, or a house nearby on his father's property.
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."
- When the father was satisfied that the home was prepared and in good order, he then made preparations for the wedding feast. Since he was paying for it and preparing it, he got to set the day and the hour.
- When the father told his son to receive his bride, the groom's attendants would go on ahead shouting, "Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!"
- Jewish weddings would take place in the evenings, and in this parable, the groom is delayed, but as we know from other scriptures, there is a reason for his delay.
2 Peter 3:7-15 Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.
- The whole wedding party, the groom and his attendants, the bride and her attendants and all those invited would make their way to the father's house where the wedding ceremony would take place. The wedding feast would last for seven days.
Revelation 19:7-9 Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
B. One word says it all – “love”
- The reason that God uses marriage as a picture of our relationship to Christ is because marriage, when it is experienced as God intended it, is about love, it’s about nearness, and intimacy and a heart of commitment.
John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
Ephesians 3:19, …and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
- But it's also God's desire that we have the same heart towards Him. We don't come to Christ against our will; we come to Him because we are responding to the greatness of His love toward us.
Matthew 23:37, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling.
- The best possible place to be in our lives is to be fully and completely in love with Him, the Savior of our soul, the Blessor of our lives!
Ephesians 5:31 -32, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
Matthew 22:37-38, And He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment."
II. Ready or Not, Here He Comes
- Now that we understand the significance of the Jewish wedding, that it is a picture of God's heart toward us and the heart that we should have toward Him, we need to look more carefully at this parable.
- The emphasis is on these 10 bridesmaids, some were wise and some were foolish.
- On a side note, by the way, there is significance in the number 10 here. There were 10 Commandments, 10 plagues, but more importantly, God said he would spare Sodom if there were 10 righteous within it.
A. Each one must have her own oil
- The difference between the foolish and the wise is all about whether they had oil for their lamps.
- Before we look at those that are wise, it's important to understand what God calls foolishness.
- From this parable and this entire Sermon on the Mount, the foolish one would be the person who says in his heart, "I have lots of time, there's no hurry, I'll live it out and party on, and then I'll get right with God later."
- The problem with this heart is that he knows that he needs to get right with God, but doesn't really want to get his life right before God.
Illus –Some believe that being ready means to clean the house and rearrange the furniture at the last minute. But the problem is that they never invited Christ into the house to begin with.
This was a lesson I had to learn for myself when I went to OSU and joined a fraternity…
Psalm 14:1, The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God."
Proverbs 28:26, He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.
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. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell and great was its fall."
B. Be filled with the Spirit of God
- Throughout scripture we see that oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
- The Holy Spirit is the very life of God within us and it is He who prepares our lives because He works within our hearts to transform our lives and cause us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
- There is a connection between the destination and the preparation.
Illus – If you're going camping, there's a certain way to prepare.
If you were going to take a trip to Africa, there is a certain way you prepare.
If you're preparing for an eternal relationship to God what is it you need? You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because He is the very life of God within.
- The life of God is what happens within your own heart. No one can have the life of God for you.
Illus- You can't watch someone else exercise and gain any strength from it. You can't watch someone else's relationship to God and have them experience God for you.
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.’"
Matthew 25:1-13 NASB
1 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. 5 Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 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.' 10 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. 11 Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' 12 But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' 13 Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.