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You Know Neither the Day Nor the Hour

Matthew 25:1-13

Rev. Kurt Hering

Last Sunday of the Church Year
Trinity Lutheran Church  
Layton, Utah

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Nov 25, 2012 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

Having once spoken and born witness by prophets and angels, the Holy Spirit now fills the lamps of faith gifted to each of the Baptized with the Word of God through the preaching, teaching, and Sacraments of His bride, the Church, to which He joins us.

To hear the entire sermon preached for the Last Sunday of the Church Year, click on the MP3 audio link provided above.

The audio begins with the Old Testament reading. The sermon begins at the 13:12 point of the mp3 file.

A servant of the Word and His folk,

Pastor Hering

If you would rather just read the sermon, or read along as you listen, the preaching manuscript follows below.

"You Know Neither the Day Nor the Hour"

LAST SUNDAY of the CHURCH YEAR SERMON: November 27, 2012

"You Know Neither the Day Nor the Hour"

TEXT: 10And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' 12But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' 13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Matthew 25:10-13

Dear Baptized,

You Know Neither the day nor the hour, but you do know the Lord. And more importantly, thanks be to God in Christ Jesus, He does know you.

This is true thanksgiving—giving thanks that God knows you and yet you live, sinner that you are. It is the thanksgiving of Mary, the mother of God, who having been praised and blessed by her cousin Elizabeth, immediately points away from herself and rejoices first and foremost in God that He would regard, that is, know her, bless her with His presence and do great things for her lowly and undeserving sinner as she is. As she sings in the Magnificat: "And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.  For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name." Luke 1:47-49

We have heard and even spoken much over the past few days of all the things for which we give thanks. That is all well and good. Yet almost everybody speaks of being thankful this time of year. But to whom? That's the important thing.

Thankfulness is much more than a state of mind, and thanksgiving is more than words spoken for others to hear. True thanksgiving is faith that acknowledges and relies on God as the giver of all things, especially the forgiveness of sins—that is, the giver of His very life, His very self on the cross that we might live.

We certainly ought acknowledge all the good things we have received from our Lord.  But if we had all these things and had not God and He had not us, it would all be for nothing. Yet if all these things were gone and yet we have God and He has us, everything would be right and we would have all that we need.

As Luther writes of Mary's thanksgiving in the Magnificat: "He scatters His gifts broadcast among the multitude; but He does not therefore regard them. His good things are merely gifts, which last for a season; but His grace and regard are the inheritance, which lasts forever, as St. Paul says in Romans 6:23: "THE gift (grace) of God is eternal life." In giving us [a variety of] gifts He gives us only what is His. But in His grace and His regard He gives His very self. In the gifts we touch His hand; but in His gracious regard we receive His heart, spirit, mind, and will."

So if in receiving God's grace we have received God Himself, what does it matter that we know not the day nor the hour. We already know and have the one who will be revealed on that day, and He knows us and has us with Him.

But how does God give us this grace? How does He come and give Himself to us? How does He fill the lamps of our faith with the oil of the Holy Spirit?

Well, let's go back to the Virgin Mary. God even chose to appear to the Virgin Mary through an angel who spoke the Word of good news to her by which the Holy Spirit gave her faith to believe that she would be the mother of His only begotten Son, who Himself would be her Savior.

If God dealt with the very mother of our Lord in this way, through the outward, spoken Word, can we, should we expect otherwise ourselves?

"Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. 11] It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments. For God wished to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word; and no prophet neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments [or spoken Word]. 12] Neither was John the Baptist conceived without the preceding word of Gabriel, nor did he leap in his mother's womb without the voice of Mary. 13] And Peter says, 2 Pet. 1:21: The prophecy came not by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy, much less would the Holy Ghost have moved them to speak when they still were unholy [or profane]; for they were holy, says he, since the Holy Ghost spake through them." [Smalcald Part III, Article VIII. Of Confession.]

As Jesus tells us in John 15:26: "when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me."

Having once spoken and born witness by prophets and angels, the Holy Spirit now fills the lamps of faith gifted to each of the Baptized with the Word of God through the preaching, teaching, and Sacraments of His bride, the Church, to which He joins us.

"The Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life." [Small Catechism Third Article Explanation]

Again, this grace and forgiveness of God's Word fills the lamp of your faith, when you are Baptized and taught to live according to everything Christ Jesus commanded to His disciples. In this way Christ says He Himself remains with you always, wherever you go, even to the end of the age [Matthew 28:20]. This everything Christ Jesus commanded is the fulfillment of what God commanded at Sinai regarding the Ten Commandments. Therefore what was true and important for God's people of the Ten Commandments given on Mt. Sinai are, if anything, more true and important for God's people of the Gospel given by Jesus the Christ.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Why? Because these are the words of eternal life, the words that put oil in your lamp so you are ready on the day the Bridegroom comes.

They are also the words that tell you what your life with the Bridegroom is going to be like, what He has in store for you. You may know neither the day nor the hour, but in addition to knowing and being known by the Lord, thanks to the His prophet Isaiah, you know much of the what that lies ahead when the Bridegroom comes as well.

Isaiah gives us a beautiful, inviting, and picture of what is being opened to us, again beginning with the One who is opening.

19I will rejoice in Jerusalem

and be glad in my people;

no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping

and the cry of distress.

20No more shall there be in it

an infant who lives but a few days,

or an old man who does not fill out his days,

for the young man shall die a hundred years old,

and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.

21They shall build houses and inhabit them;

they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22They shall not build and another inhabit;

they shall not plant and another eat;

for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,

and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

23They shall not labor in vain

or bear children for calamity,

for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD,

and their descendants with them.

24Before they call I will answer;

while they are yet speaking I will hear.

25The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;

the lion shall eat straw like the ox,

and dust shall be the serpent's food.

They shall not hurt or destroy

in all my holy mountain," says the LORD.

Now that is something worth being prepared for. And so you are.

Yet all of this would mean and be worth nothing at all if not for the bridegroom Himself, Jesus the Christ the Son of the Living God.

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. …Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:24, 28

"Here is the bridegroom!" Yes, He is here and each of you baptized is a member of His beloved and holy bride.

So now on this side of heaven that you have Jesus and Jesus has you is the one thing needful. For with Him all is gold—even our suffering. And without Him gold is nothing. Indeed He has made gold out of nothing in the beginning and is able to turn our suffering into gold, which is indeed what He will do on the Last Day as we have learned from Isaiah.

No, dear people of God, you "know neither the day nor the hour" of the Lord Christ's appearing. But you do know Him. And most importantly, unlike the foolish virgins, He does know you and wants to live with you forever. That forever began at your Baptism and continues today as you hear His Word and receive His body and blood. These things bear His grace into the word today just as the Virgin Mary bore Christ Himself into the world. So by these things that bear His grace, He is always filling your lamps of faith with the Holy Spirit so that when He appears you most certainly will see Him and be with Him because He has been with you all along in these things—forgiving you all your sins and giving you life—in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.

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