23rd Sunday after Pentecost | Parable of the Ten Virgins, Matthew 25:1-13



Last week on the Feast of All Saints,

We remembered that in places far away, places like Iraq, Syria, and China,

Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering martyrdom daily.


Maybe that made you sad.

Maybe you were concerned or worried for them.

Maybe you remembered scrolling past news of such things on your phone or computer, and thinking how terrible it is.


Whatever thoughts and feelings you had during that sermon,

I mostly doubt that literal fear or deep anxiety were among them.

But I very much doubt that you walked out of here thinking that you were heading into martyrdom yourselves.


What about this morning?

Did it cross your mind on the way here that what happened last week at a little church in Texas could easily happen to us, too?

Did it occur to you this week that someone full of hate and fear,

Who despises Christ and His Word and His people, might come for you?


Did you think about how you might react?

Did you position yourself between the main door and your kids?

Did you remind yourself where the exits are?

Did you pray for Jesus to please come back soon?

Maybe even before Christmas?


Did you wonder how prepared you are (?) –

Either for Christ to return to all of us, or for you to go to Him?


In the language that Jesus uses this morning,

Did you wonder how much oil do you have?

Will it last you your whole life, however long or short that may be?

Will it be enough to get see you through a long and dark night?


The oil Jesus speaks of is faith.

It is absolutely critical; it is absolutely necessary.


Without it, nothing is clear, and nothing is visible.

Without it, even those who were invited to the wedding feast

Cannot be seen or identified.

Without it, it’s like if someone bangs on your door in the middle of a dark night,

And they want to come in.

Even your kindest reply is going to be something like the one the Bridegroom gives:
“I don’t know you.”


That’s why faith is Jesus’ primary concern this morning.

He says you absolutely need it –

Throughout your life, at your death, and at His next coming.


Because when that moment comes, it will be too late to go buy some.

And even if the dealers were open at such an hour, faith is not for sale.


You can’t purchase it with your money.

You can’t earn it.

You can’t make it yourself.

You can’t borrow some from your devout friends or family members.


On that point Luther quotes the Church Father, Hilary of Poitiers, who writes:


“As the foolish virgins could not go forth with their lamps extinguished, they sought those who were prudent to lend them oil; to whom they replied that they could not give the oil because there might not be enough for all. In other words, no one can be aided by the works and merits of another…” (Ap. XXI 30)


Thanks be to God;

Jesus does not leave it to you to muster up faith on your own,

To make it or buy it or borrow it.

Instead, He gives it away.


St. Paul makes this so clear when he writes these words to the church in Ephesus:


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)


So, faith is a gift of God, and like all true gifts it is free.

That’s especially good news for people who have nothing on our own.


And yet, from time to time, when tragedies strike as tragedies do,

You may find yourself wondering if you actually have the faith Jesus describes.

Or, you might wonder if you have enough of it.


Will you use up all the faith you’ve got worrying about your kids or your parents?

Will you be scraping oil off the bottom to get you through a mid-life crisis?

Will what you’ve got bring you through sickness, death, or martyrdom?

Or do you need more?

In one way those are all fair questions,

At least insofar as they reflect how you feel when you are struggling or in crisis.


But inn another way, they are the wrong questions.

When it comes to faith, it does no good to look at your seemingly depleting reserves.

That doesn’t help any more than looking at your empty stomach and hoping you’ll just stop being hungry.


If you need faith, and you do, you look to the One who gives it to you.

You look to Jesus.


Of course, Christ and His Church realize that might seem too abstract.

And so Jesus has made it easy.

You can look to the places; you can actually look at the places,

Where Jesus has given, and continues to give you everything:

Forgiveness, life, salvation, and… faith – all you need and more.


You can see the font. That’s one reason we put it up front.

You can touch the water that Jesus poured over you.

You can return to the place where Jesus frist filled you up.

Where He gave you everything.


What’s more is that you are returned there every week at Confession & Absolution.

The forgiveness and faith you received in Baptism,

Is declared to you again and again at the beginning of every Service.

That’s why when I give the Absolution,

The baptismal font always stands between us.


When the Gospel is proclaimed,

When it hits your ears,

And turns south and fills your heart,


When Christ’s Body and Blood literally fill you at the Lord’s Supper,

There, here, your cup runs over,

Your lamps are full.

They will not go out.

However you feel, they will not go out.


You have all the oil, all the faith you need,

Because here Christ Himself daily provides it.


I don’t know what happens next.

I don’t know if you will be called to a martyr’s death.

But one thing is certain.

You are called to a martyr’s life.

And you, for the sake of Christ, will be given the martyr’s reward.

Jesus Himself has earned it for you on the cross.

He has died your death that you may have His life.


Christ has emptied Himself, so that you may be filled.

And so you are.



To Christ be all the glory, in life and in death, now and at is coming, forever and ever, and to the ages of ages.


About Pastor Hopkins