Pentecost 23 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 6, 2020
Amos 5:18-24, 1 Thess 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13

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itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
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            The door to the kingdom of heaven is open.  Jesus is the door and He invites all people to come into the kingdom to await the wedding feast of the Lamb.  Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world and wants all people to be saved.  Jesus reaches out to sinners.  A bruised reed He will not break.  A smoldering wick He will not snuff out.  Jesus wants all to be saved.  He calls all to repent and believe the Good News that sins are forgiven in Jesus.  The door is open and all are welcome.

            The door is open and all are welcome, but there are a lot of people who are milling around outside the door ignoring the invitation to come in. There are those who say they will come through the door someday…when they are not so busy…when they are not so caught up in living life.  I had a young man at juvenile detention tell me once that he would probably become a Christian when he was old, maybe 40 or so, but for now he wanted to party and sleep around.  Jesus? Maybe later.   

            There are those who come through the door into the kingdom of heaven and live there for a while, but the busyness of life and the deceitfulness of wealth lure them back outside the door.  They were under the reign of the Lord Jesus but now they reject His rule.  They intellectually know the door is there and they have some sense they should probably be back in the kingdom of heaven, but life gets in the way.  They had faith, but they neglected it and lost it; other things became more important; other gods snuck in to replace the one true God.

            There are so many today living in a spiritual land of opportunity where you can believe a little of this and a little of that and kind of make up your own god who cheers you on, but does not cramp your style or curtail your sexual adventures.  Folks seem to want a weak god who pretty much does what they tell him to do. 

            The parable of the ten virgins is a harsh warning blasting into our lives today. It is the lion of Judah roaring to let us know He is not a passive kitten.  Jesus is not a weak god of our own design.  He is God Almighty.  Right now the door to the kingdom of heaven is open and the God of mercy and grace pours out His forgiveness on sinners.  Now the door is open, but the day is coming when the door will be closed.  The day is coming when God’s mercy and grace will cease. The day is coming when Jesus returns and there will be no more opportunity to believe the Good News that Jesus died for your sins.  When Jesus returns there will be only two categories.  You either believe or you do not.  You are saved or damned.  These stark categories make us uncomfortable.  We want there to be some gray area, some mushy middle where we can muddle our way through life not fully committing one way or the other, and then figure things out on the Last Day.  But there is no gray area, and if you wait until the Last Day it will be too late.

            When Jesus returns the door will be closed and there will be no second chances.  For the five foolish virgins who did not have enough oil there is no mercy.  While they are off trying to buy more oil the bridegroom arrives and goes into the marriage feast with those who are ready and the door is shut.  The five foolish virgins arrive late and find the door already closed.  They cry out, Matthew 25:11 (ESV) 11 … ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’[1] These are desperate people in desperate need crying out for help.  The answer they receive is chilling.  Matthew 25:12 (ESV) 12 … ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’[2]

            Jesus is giving us a hard teaching.  There will come a day when it will be too late to come into the kingdom of heaven.  When Jesus returns and those who reject Him see Him coming in power and glory, they will know they were wrong about Jesus, but it will be too late.  The wise know they need to be ready.  The foolish think they can get ready if necessary.  Jesus is warning you today, be wise.  Be ready, stay ready.  Stay connected to Jesus through His body on earth, the Church.  Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV) 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.[3]

            In the busyness of life it is very tempting to give up gathering together to receive the forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ words and through His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.  It is too easy to let yourself be separated from the fountain of forgiveness that you receive in worship.  Just a skip week here and a week there and weeks become months, and soon you drift away from God through quiet neglect.  We can come up with all sorts of reasons why we cannot make it to church.  As you make excuses you need to honestly ask yourself where receiving Jesus’ forgiveness is on your list of priorities in life.  The devil wants nothing more than to separate you from Jesus and have you give up the wisdom of God and embrace the wisdom of the world. 

            In our Gospel reading there are those who are wise and those who are foolish. Be wise.  And what is wisdom?  Psalm 111:10 (ESV)  10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…

Now, during this time of pandemic there are those who need to continue to stay away from in-person worship for health reasons, but it is still important to remain connected as much as you can and return in person when you are able.  If possible, come to the family unit communion if you are not able to attend in person worship.  If health reasons prevent you from attending in person worship let me know and we can bring the Lord’s Supper to you.  Stay connected to Jesus.  Attend worship, receive the sacrament, read God’s Word.  In the end there will not be time to get ready for Jesus to return, you need to stay ready.

            Be wise.  Stay ready. Now I get to preach this to you all who are here; you have gathered today to receive God’s gifts in Jesus.  Abide in Christ, stay faithful, do not drift away from the Church.  Remain faithful until the day you fall asleep in Christ.  

            In our Gospel reading there are those who are wise and those who are foolish. Be wise.  And what is wisdom?  Psalm 111:10 (ESV)  10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…[4]

            Stay ready.  Reject the wisdom of the world seek the wisdom of God.  1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (ESV) 20 …Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.[5]

            The door to the kingdom of heaven is now open.  Shout it from the mountain top.  Let everyone know.  Now is the time to repent and believe Jesus died for your sins.  Now is the time to know there is forgiveness in Jesus.  Now is the time to repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.  Now is the time to be ready and stay ready for Jesus to return.  Remain in Christ.  Stay ready. Be wise.  Amen.

[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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