Sermon + Do Your Job

Pastor Brian Campbell’s sermon on November 8.
His text was Matthew 25.1-3, the parable of the foolish bridesmaids.
He proclaimed that we need to do the work we are called and commanded to do.

Pastor Brian Campbell’s sermon for November 8 from the Church at Home service.
Pastor Brian Campbell’s sermon for November 8 from the Redeemer outdoor service.
Pastor Brian Campbell’s 90 Second Sermon Summary for November 8.

May we learn from God’s words & stories, working to bring the Kingdom here to Earth. AMEN.

  • I want you to take a moment to think back to a time in your past when you prepared for a major change in your life.
    • Think about when you left home, or when your kids left home.
    • Remember when you were about to become a parent for the first time.
    • Recall what was going on when you bought your first home.
    • Was there someone to give you words of wisdom, to guide you, to reassure you that it would all be fine? Or maybe you poured out that sage knowledge to your child?
  • Our Gospel lesson for today, and the next two Sundays, come from Matthew 25.
    • Jesus has left the Temple in Jerusalem for the last time.
      • His fights with the Temple power players are over.
    • Jesus and his disciples are headed to where they are staying for Passover somewhere near Mount Olivet, and as they look back over Jerusalem as the sun sets behind it, Jesus speaks about what will happen when he willingly returns to Jerusalem.
      • He will be in Jerusalem on Friday when he is arrested, then tried, and finally crucified.
      • But Jesus means when he returns in glory to judge and bring the Kingdom to Earth.
        • His disciples want to know what signs to look for and when this will happen.
        • Jesus tells them no one knows, not even him; only the Father knows.
    • He tells them four parables to give them advice on how to deal with these times that are surely coming, when they will be on their own. We hear this one, and two others from Matthew 25 as our Gospel lessons between now and Thanksgiving.
  • Now that I’ve set the scene for you, let me be honest.
    • This is a troubling parable. It isn’t a nice way to
    • Jesus begins by saying, Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. [a]
      • But there is no grace. There is no mercy. There is no forgiveness.
      • How can the kingdom of heaven, the place where God’s will is done, where everything is the way God wants it to be like this?
        • Five girls are locked outside forever because they ran out of oil because the groom waited to show up whenever he darn well wanted.
      • How does that describe a place where we want to live and a way we want to live under?
  • You might have noticed I said there were four parables, and we hear three of them.
    • What parable is hidden from us?
    • The first parable Jesus tells begins in Matthew 24.45, and he describes a servant who is put in charge of the household while the master goes away. [b]
      • He will be rewarded if the master finds him working when he comes back. [c]
      • But woe to that servant if he the exploits the situation because the Master is delayed. Then the servant takes advantage of his position, and abuses other servants and throws a giant party. [d]
      • When the master catches the servant not doing what he should have been, he will be cut up and cast out, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [e]
    • That parable is easy to understand. If you aren’t doing your job, if you are abusing your position, you will be punished.
      • That makes sense. It’s a classic entertainment scene.
        • The parents come home, and their kids have thrown a party.
        • The butler is wearing the owners robe and drinking champagne from the bottle.
      • We get this one, which is probably why it is skipped. But can we use it to understand the parable of the bridesmaids.
  • Don’t focus on the setting of a wedding and bridesmaids acting as streetlights and things we don’t understand because of it coming from a different time and different culture.
    • The job of the bridesmaids was to be able to light their oil lamps when the groom came.
    • When the groom showed up, even though he was delayed, five of them couldn’t light their lamps.
      • They used up the oil that the lamps had, and they didn’t bring any extra oil in flasks.
      • The other bridesmaids didn’t share, because they had to be sure they would have enough to do their jobs.
      • The ones without oil left to visit the all-night oil store, and that is when the groom arrived. When they got back, the groom refused to let them in, saying, Truly I tell you, I do not know you. [f]
        • The groom did not know the bridesmaids because they were not doing what was their responsibility. He didn’t not know them because they didn’t do what they were responsible to do.
    • The reason Jesus attacked the Temple leaders, chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees when he first came to the Temple on this day was because they had not done the work God made them responsible for. They did not share the blessings God had given them with those who were in need.
      • While this parable’s vision of the Kingdom of Heaven is hard to reconcile with the vision given by the Parable of the Vineyard Workers that started this sermon series.
        • There, grace from God abounded, and we were the ones with problems of God’s generosity.
        • Now, it seems that God’s grace is limited, and we have problems with the hardness of God’s heart.
      • But remember, God’s generosity was shown to those who were working in both of these parables.
      • Scholars throughout the centuries have believed that the good works we do are a sign of faith being rooted in us, that we are a plant that bares good fruit.
  • Those of you who have been in our Learning the Letters class, or if you’ve read many of the Epistles, you know that Paul was having to reassure the early churches not to worry that Jesus had not yet come back.
    • Jesus is letting us all know that the groom could be delayed.
    • But whenever Jesus returns, we need to be doing what we have been called and commanded to do:
      • Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Take care of the widows and orphans.
      • Take care of the marginalized and persecuted.
      • Fight for justice. Stand with the oppressed. Defend the beleaguered.
    • Keep working. And check your oil.


[a]     Matthew 25.1.

[b]     Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? 
Matthew 24.45.

[c]     Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.   
Mathew 24.46-47.

[d]     But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 
Matthew 24.48-49.

[e]     The master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 24.50-51.

[f]     Matthew 25.12.

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