Foolish Pseudo-Christians In Name Only?

Text: Matthew 25:1-13

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

There were no outward differences between the ten virgins – that is bridesmaids. All of them were ready with their lamps. They were all dressed for the party with decorations and ornaments. They all knew that the Groom would come for the bride and the bridesmaids to take them to the great marriage festival. Yes, according to all outward appearances, these bridesmaids were the same; they dressed the same and looked the same. They all appeared to be ready for the great celebration; however, as we hear in our Gospel reading from the gospel of Matthew, five of them did not make it to the great wedding banquet.

But why only five? And why did they not make it?

Five did not make it to the wedding banquet because they were fools. Yes, they were not wise but they were fools.

You see, the five bridesmaids that did not make it to the wedding banquet were foolish because they did get oil for their lamps in advance. And when the Groom finally came, they did not have any oil to light their lamps, resulting in them frantically leaving to get oil and subsequently not going with the Groom to the wedding banquet.

And so, this parable points out that only five bridesmaids make it to the wedding banquet, whereas the other five do not make it and are locked out of the party due to their foolishness.

Again, they all looked the same. They were all aware that the Groom was coming. However, only five made it, and five others did not. The reason being, five were wise, and the other five were foolish.

And just as it is in this parable, we find that the same is true for the Christians. You see, when it comes to people of the faith, many people act like Christians, talk like Christians, and imagine themselves to be Christians. They will appear to be Christians with the same lamps, the same ornaments, and decorations on their dress. They may even know that the Groom – Jesus Christ – is coming back. However, like those five foolish bridesmaids, they will not make it to eternal life.

Now, if this unsettles you, we can say, “good,” because that is the intent and purpose of the parable. In telling us this parable, Jesus impresses upon us that there are divisions in the church on earth. That is to say; many will have the outward appearance and marks of a Christian, but in the end are nothing more than a fool. Many will be carrying a lamp, but they will have no oil to burn in the lamp. Yes, they lack the one quality that will make them acceptable as wedding guests – they lack oil for their lamps.

You see, a fool likes to play the Christian card, saying, “Oh, yes, I am a Christian. I belong to a church. I can recite some bible verses from memory. I volunteer time to time for the church and drop some money in the offering plate occasionally. I attend funerals whenever someone dies and I never – I never miss Christmas and Easter Services even though I rarely attend the rest of the year.” Yes, a fool will play the part of the Christian. They will look like and sound like Christians, but like the foolish bridesmaid, they will not make it to eternal life, but will see the doors of eternal life shut before them while hearing the stern words of Jesus, “I truly tell you, I do not know you!”

Dear friends, a lamp does not burn without oil. Only a fool would dare to believe this. Only a fool would be so senseless to forget oil for a lamp. But that is precisely what happens in every generation. Individuals will go about their lives, believing that they are ready for the Last Day of Judgment when in reality they are not. They have foolishly convinced themselves that they are ‘good to go’ for the second coming, when Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead, but in actuality, they have forgotten to get oil.

Dear friends, are you a fool? Are you foolish? We need to be careful how we answer this question. You see, the temptation is to say, “I am not a fool because I go to church every single week. I am not a fool because I pray a lot and do a lot of good works. I am not a fool because I am really committed to the church.” This too is foolish, for the issue is not about whether or not you are properly dressed or have a lamp, but the issue is whether or not one has oil in their lamp.

So, are you a fool? Do you have oil in your lamp?

But what is this oil that is spoken of? The oil for the lamp represents the faith and confidence in the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, while it is good to tithe and it is good to go to church, and it is good to memorize scripture, if we do all of these things without faith and confidence in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, we are just a bunch of fools. We are a lamp with no oil. We are pseudo-Christians – Christians in name only.

Dear friends, the whole point of this parable is to be ready for the second coming of Jesus by having oil, which is the Lord’s grace and mercy. Yes, the whole point of the parable is not to be a fool who thinks that he does not need the forgiveness of sins. In other words, those who are wise will always have lamps full of oil. The wise will always be filled with the forgiveness of sins because they know they are poor miserable sinners in thought, word, and deed. They are people who know that they are sinners who need Jesus and His gifts. They are sinners who long to be taken to the eternal banquet because they are all too familiar with the muck of sin in their own lives and the sin of the world. And like the wise bridesmaids, the wise Christian will always come before the throne of grace for forgiveness, life, and salvation. The wise Christian is always anticipating the coming of Jesus saying, “Come Lord Jesus, come; deliver me from this world and this body of sin and death!”  

On the other hand, the fool is the one who shuts his heart down to the constant supply of the forgiveness of sins given in the Word and Sacraments. The fool claims to be a Christian and looks like a Christian but then neglects Christ and His gifts.

So, I must ask you this day, are you a fool? Are you foolish in shutting your heart off from the Lord’s grace and mercy? If so, repent. Repent of pretending that you are not a sinner. Repent of convincing yourself that you can burn a lamp without oil. Repent of thinking that you are ready for the second coming of Jesus without Jesus’ forgiveness of sins. Repent of neglecting the Word and Sacraments. Repent and hear the good news! Yes, hear the good news! Receive oil for your lamps! Oil that is especially for you! 

In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you of all of your sins!

Yes, hear the good news – receive oil for your lamps!

The Lord has adopted you as His very own and given you His name upon your head and heart, in your baptism. The Lord has generously poured out upon you His Holy Spirit. By the washing of the water with the Lord’s Word, the Lord has united you with Him in His death and resurrection. Yes, the Lord has called you and now considers you a beloved child. He has declared you to be well-pleasing in His sight!

Hear the Gospel – receive oil for your lamps!

In the body and blood of Christ, you are given pardon and peace. In the Holy Supper, eat and drink and be satisfied, knowing that the Lord refreshes and strengthens you in faith and love.

Baptized Saints, the Lord is coming back for you and me someday. Cling to His Holy Word and Sacraments, so that when He comes in the hour of your death or on the Last Day, you are ready to go in with Him to the heavenly wedding, that is, eternal life. May we put on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of hope – hope of salvation.  May we be sober during the day! God grant you and me this wisdom – wisdom that continually receives oil – and may God drive foolishness from you and from me.

In the name of Jesus: Amen. 

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