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Morning: Kampar Chinese Methodist Church, 23rd December
Evening: Bandar Baru Methodist Centre, 23rd December 2001.
Matthew 25: 1 - 13
(Also Mark 13: 32 - 37 and Luke 12: 35 - 40)
Some pondering over . . .
- Mention difficulty of choosing a theme for this week's sermon: two days
before Christmas, at the second last Sunday of the year. I thought it is
neither appropriate to preach about the good news of the birth of of our Lord
Jesus Christ, for that would be for Christmas day worship service, nor is it
appropriate to preach about rededication and renewal of our faith, for that
would most probably be next Sunday's topic to help us look forward to the new
- So, when preparing for this sermon one morning about two weeks ago - I
prayed for the Lord's guidance - and came across this passage: Matt. 25: 1
-13. Initially I had doubts about using this parable in today's sermon because
it talks about preparing ourselves for the return of our Lord Jesus. It
doesn't seem like a very appropriate theme two days before Christmas. But as I
continued to turn through the pages of the New Testament that morning, other
similar passages caught my attention: one was in Mark chapter 13 another was
in Luke 12 - where the Lord told His followers to be like servants who get
dressed and keep their lamps burning and to wait for their master to return
from the wedding feast.
- I decided then to go ahead, this morning, to preach about keeping our
lamps burning, to be prepared for the Lord's return.
- Every time we think of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, we think of
Matthew 1: 20, 21 “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the
child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son
and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
This evening, sitting here, all of us who believe that this child born of Mary
is the Lord Jesus Christ, who has suffered and died for our sins, and who was
raised from the dead on the third day - to us this person is our Lord and
Saviour, and we are his people. Our Lord Jesus Christ has saved us from our
sins. What we believe is called the gospel or good news of salvation.
- And those of us who believe in this gospel also believe in one more thing:
that our Lord Jesus will one day return to judge the living and the dead, and
to take all of us to be with him forever. Meanwhile, we are all actually
waiting for him, looking forward to meeting him face-to-face. In fact every
time we celebrate Christmas, we remember that our Lord's return is nearer by
- So, this morning / evening, instead of pondering over his birth - and all
the anouncements, prophecies and events surrounding it, let us turn our
attention to ourselves, to ask ourselves a few questions:
- How should we prepare ourselves to meet our Lord Jesus again?
- What should we be doing now as the Day of the Lord gets nearer?
- What did the Lord Jesus teach his disciples about preparing to meet Him
- In what way can we be fully prepared for his return?
Key Points from Main Texts
- Matthew 25: 1 - 13: v13 Watch therefore, for you do not know the day or
- Luke 12: 35 - 40: v35 Let your loins be girded about and your lights
Now let us look at a few verses from this morning's bible passage:
Five foolish versus five wise maidens
- Verse 1 : At that time "that time" = today, the last days. Verse 1: - the
kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins: people in the church of God.
- Verses 2 - 11: - five were foolish and five were wise: some were not
prepared, others were prepared. Caution: five does not mean exactly half of
- Verse 12: but I tell you the truth, I do not know you! (viz: the
five foolish virgins were not genuine believers of the Gospel.)
- Verse 13: Watch, therefore, for you do not know the day or the hour: this
is the main point of this parable - the Lord Jesus told his disciples that
day, while sitting on the Mount of Olives, to be alert and fully prepared for
his return. The five wise girls who kept their lamps burning represent
Christians who are watching all the time, fully prepared for the Last Day.
Develop background about lamp and wedding.
Five burning versus five dead lamps:
The lighted lamp is used throughout the Bible to symbolise many things -
- Psalm 119: 105 - God's Word
- 2 Samuel 22: 29 - God's guidance
- Isaiah 62: 1 - God's salvation
- Proverbs 20: 27 - man's spirit
A Jewish wedding in NT was very different from Christian weddings
today: it goes through three ceremonies: first the
engagement, where the parents of the bride and the groom agree to
give away their children in a marriage contract. Then the
bethrothal (some kind of further engagement) -
the bethrothal is a very serious engagement and it cannot be annulled unless the
bride or the groom have committed serious sins. While waiting for the wedding,
the bride is considered as already belonging to the bridegroom. That's why, if
the bridegroom dies before the wedding, the bride has to regarded as a widow by
her community. Finally there is the wedding,
where the bride waits for a procession of the bridegroom and his friends to come
to her house in a grand ceremony to take her as his wife.
Areas to watch
Be Watchful in Love
1 Corinthians 16: 13, 14
Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, show courage, be strong. Everything you
do should be done in love.
1 Peter 4: 7, 8
For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and
sober-minded for the sake of prayer. Above all keep your love for one another
fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be Watchful in Sufferings
1 Peter 5: 8, 9
Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the
prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because
you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the
same kinds of suffering.
Be Watchful in Obedience
2 Peter 3: 10 - 12
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens
will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in
a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare. Since all
these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be,
conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening
the coming of the day of God?
Be Watchful in Teaching
2 Timothy 4: 1 - 4
I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the
living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the message,
be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete
patience and instruction. For there will be a time when people will not tolerate
sound teaching. Instead, following their own desires, they will accumulate
teachers for themselves, because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new
Every day is a day of preparation in a Christian's life: preparing for the
return of the Lord. This is the great hope of every Christian's heart -
to be found fully prepared when the sudden, unannounced return of the Lord Jesus
takes place. Like the maidens who watched over their lamps, or the
servants who watched for their master's return, we are reminded today to keep
our lamps burning likewise. Let us prepare ourselves in watchful teaching and
obedience, in suffering and in our love for each other in the Lord.