The sands of time are sinking, The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for – The fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark had been the midnight But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth In Emmanuel’s land.
“But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom!’ Come out to meet him!’” (Matthew 25:6) The plane might be delayed. The most important guest may have gotten hung up along the way. We may have gotten the wrong time down to begin with and he’s right on time but we just think he’s late. It’s okay to be a bit sleepy. It’s okay to take a nap.
But when he comes it might be midnight. His coming is announced. Hark the herald angels sing! He’s here! He’s here. Come out to meet him! You’re asleep so wake up. You’ve been waiting and he’s arrived, so get up and go see him!
In this parable (that of the 10 virgins) of judgment, we also have an announcement of Advent. Advent means “coming.” It means an expectation of the arrival of the one we’ve been waiting for.
During Christmastime, we prepare for Christmas with the preceding season of Advent. We prepare ourselves and our own hearts by remembering the incredible, expectedly unexpected arrival of our Lord Jesus, born in Bethlehem in a stable by a virgin. A virgin. A maiden. Perhaps one of our wise virgins has the name of Mary.
Imagine a fantastic pregnancy announcement to a couple that has long-hoped to get pregnant. Imagine the pink and blue, the growing belly pictures, the number of weeks on the chalkboard. Imagine the excitement of a new baby coming!
Then imagine the day has finally arrived. The couple has everything prepared, everything ready.
But when the time for the last push comes, the dad isn’t in the room. He’s out at Buffalo Wild Wings watching the big game. He’s not been checking his phone. Hours later, he saunters back to the hospital in his time. He takes a smoke break. The nurses come out tell him, “She’s here! The baby’s here.” Eh. He has to go to bathroom first. He’ll be there, but he’s going to be with the baby for a long time, so what’s the rush?
When he gets to the room, the door is locked. “I never knew you,” is written on the whiteboard.
Christmas is a time to be ready and waiting for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world. It’s time to camp out in the waiting room. It’s time for all the preparations to come to the end, for the culmination and the beginning at the same time. It’s time to wake up! It’s time to show up!
We can sometimes forget but we have to remember that Jesus didn’t only come at Christmas, but he says he’ll come again. Advent is a call to remember that very thing. Not just his first coming, but his second coming. We don’t know when that will be. Jesus himself says that no one knows the day or the hour. We don’t know! It may be 5,000 years from now. It may be tonight.
Are you watching? Are you ready? Will you come awake? Will you go out to greet him when he comes? Will you be ready to dance for him? Have you trimmed your wicks for when the man comes around?
Jesus is the bridegroom. His church is the bride. And the attendants. And the dancers. And the maidens, the virgins. Don’t get stuck on all the metaphors and imagery.
Fixate on the announcement of the one who matters, the one who throws the party, the one we’re their to honor. This parable of judgment is even more a parable of hope and joy.
You can make that party. He’s been talking about parties a lot, hasn’t he? In the parable of the wedding feast in chapter 22, the whole situation is a huge wedding party with crazy guests and activities. In the feeding of the 4000 and 5000 he ends up feeding thousands of people a sit down dinner so they get more than enough every single one, none of whom deserved any of it. Over and over again we see him handing out bread and wine. He’s bringing in people to his own joy. What a party planner! Over and over again, he’s inviting people to an amazing party.
And he’s saying that he is the party.
The party does have a cost, just like all parties do. It may be free to you, but it costs to him. It ends up costing him his life, which he’s willing to give. He wants to you know you. He wants you to be known. He wants you to know him. He wants you to show up when you’re asked. He wants you to wear his robes he’s given you. He wants you to light the path and dance with enough oil. He wants you to take and eat his body and his blood, his bread and his wine. He wants you to drink the living water so you will be satisfied. He wants to serve you and wash you so you will be cleansed.
That’s not nothing. It’s really more like everything. But you get everything when you get him.
Do you think it’s worth it? Is he worth it?
I want you to imagine another one of the surprise visit home videos you’ve seen lately. An older sibling surprises a younger one at school. A spouse shows up at work or a sporting event. I don’t have to tell you how moving these are.
He’s coming, but it’s for you. He’s coming. You’re the attendant, but you’re also the bride. You’re the son or daughter. You’re the family. You’re the one the party is for. We don’t know when it will be, but we know it’s coming, and it will be a day of joy and gladness.
The bride eyes not her garment, But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory Of Emmanuel’s land.
O I am my Beloved’s And my Beloved is mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner Into His house of wine
I stand upon His merit – I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth In Emmanuel’s land.