HYMN Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favoured sinners slain;
Thousand, thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.
Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.
Those dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears,
Cause of endless exaltation
To His ransomed worshippers
With what rapture, With what rapture, With what rapture,
Gaze we one those glorious scars.
Yea, Amen, let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the power and glory,
Claim the Kingdom for Thine own:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou shalt reign, and Thou alone.
READING Matthew 25
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
The Parable of the Bags of Gold
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
SERMON Get Ready
What is a Christian? Someone who is waiting, working and warm-hearted.
1 vv 1-13 the Ten Virgins WAITING
Jesus uses two parables – the first, in verses 1-13, is the parable of the ten virgins. These ten girls were to be bridesmaids at a great wedding – their job was to accompany the bridegroom to the banquet – all they had to do was to keep awake and ready. Now, it seems they all failed to stay awake – some of the girls were NOT READY for the event. … Though they pleaded for the door to be opened for them, the bridegroom simply said : I don’t know you! Did Jesus concludes by saying to his hearers: Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. This first little story is one about the happiest occasion in life – a marriage. Weddings are times of great joy – and that is the picture of heaven here.
HOWEVER, there is another story outside the banquet. Out there, knocking on the door are those who weren’t ready – they weren’t waiting eagerly, neither were they prepared for the groom’s arrival. They had been waiting till the last moment. My wife says I’m like that with petrol – I wait till the very last litre before I fill up (and sometimes I wait too long !).
Petrol is one thing – but leaving the destiny of your eternal soul until the last minute is a terrible thing to do. Oh, be sure, the 5 foolish bridesmaids WERE waiting for the groom – but they didn’t have the right equipment. Many there are in the Church who claim to be waiting for Jesus return – but they don’t KNOW JESUS.
What does the groom say to those knocking at the door : I don’t KNOW you!
2 vv 14 – 30 The Talents WORKING
Now, that leads us into Jesus next parable – the one about the three workers being given talents. While we await His return we must be working. The first two men had doubled their money However, the third chap was lazy. Now the root of the problem seems to be that the man simply did NOT understand his master at all. He imagined his master to be a harsh man – now, even if this HAD been true, it would have been no excuse for his laziness. But when you see how KIND the master was to the hard-working servants, you realise that this was no harsh slave-beating. Now, the question which faces us is this : HOW do WE use OUR gifts. Now, you may be saying – well, I don’t have any gifts – I’m just like that poor fellow who only had ONE talent. Well, although the footnote says that a talent was worth several hundred pounds, I reckon that its buying power today would be more like £100,000.
Surely the point is that we are ALL abundantly gifted by God – and we all have a sacred charge to USE all our gifts for His glory. If we try to claim before God that we are UN-gifted is to say that HE has given us nothing – and that is patently UNTRUE – and a very unwise thing to say! And the motto according to Jesus of this parable – in vs. 28 is : Everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. – Ecclesiastes 11:1 which says : Cast your bread upon the waters, after many days you will find it again.
The principle is just this – we use our gifts and keep using them – and God keeps giving us more. If we FAIL to use our gifts for Him as they were meant – then we will be thrown out to the place where there will be gnashing of teeth.
3 vv 31-46 The Sheep & the Goats WARM-HEARTED
Now, that leads nicely into the last little section about the sheep and the goats – we must wait by working with the RIGHT ATTITUDE.
Verse 32 tells us that there will be a great separation. And the basis of the separation? Vs.40 Whatever you did for the least of these BROTHERS OF MINE you did for me.
These humble servants are so SURPRISED when they discovered what they had been doing for Jesus when they are called to account. They are warmhearted – and chiefly their hearts are warm towards God. I think this is a wonderful picture of all the surprises in heaven – WHAT LORD – you mean we were doing that for YOU all the time?
Again there is a converse – namely to FAIL to show that warm-heartedness will be to automatically join the goats – and they will go to eternal punishment.
Conclusion So : be ready – be diligent – be caring. Let’s sing now calling on Jesus to come quickly.
Hymn Christ is coming! let creation
1. Christ is coming! let creation
Bid her groans and travail cease;
let the glorious proclamation
hope restore and faith increase:
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Come, Thou blessed Prince of peace. (x2)
2. Earth can now but tell the story
of Thy bitter cross and pain;
She shall yet behold Thy glory,
Lord, when Thou comest back to reign:
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Let each heart repeat the strain. (x2)
3. With that blessed hope before us,
Let no harp remain unstrung;
let the mighty advent chorus
onward roll from tongue to tongue:
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Come, Lord Jesus quickly come! (X2)