"'Wake, awake, for night is flying,' the watchmen on the heights are crying; 'Awake, Jerusalem, arise!' Midnight hears the welcome voices And at the thrilling cry rejoices: 'Oh, where are ye, ye virgins wise? The Bridegroom comes, awake! Your lamps with gladness take! Alleluia! With bridal care yourselves prepare To meet the Bridegroom, who is near.'"
"Wake, awake!" This is not a time to be lazy or careless in matters of faith. There are people who may call themselves "Christian" but deny the Lord Jesus and His teachings. They prefer to adapt themselves to the values of the surrounding culture so that they do not offend anyone with unwelcome talk of sin, repentance, and the need for a Savior. Like the foolish virgins of Jesus' parable, the lamps of those who embrace such false beliefs are flickering or, sadly, have gone out. Yet now is the time to be awake and alert, to keep the lamp of faith brightly burning. Jesus is coming back!
When will our Lord return? We do not know, but we have His promise: "Surely I am coming soon" (Revelation 22:20b). Jesus compared His return to unexpected events—a thief breaking into a home at night, a master returning unexpectedly to his household, and a bridegroom arriving, at a time not precisely known, to claim his bride. The homeowner who is awake and alert is ready to defend against a thief. Faithful servants have nothing to fear when the master arrives unexpectedly. Wise virgins, attendants of the bride, are waiting with lamps brightly burning when the bridegroom comes.
Although Jesus will come back at a time we do not expect, the Savior has told us about the signs alerting us to His return. There will be "wars and rumors of wars," famines and earthquakes, false prophets and "lawlessness will be increased." Christians will be persecuted and "hated by all nations" (see Matthew 24:7-12). Even a brief glance at a news report reminds us that such things are happening now, and have been happening since Jesus ascended into heaven. Jesus reminds us repeatedly that now is the time to be ready: "Watch" (Matthew 25:13a), "Be on guard" (Mark 13:23a) and "Stay awake" (Mark 13:37b).
"With bridal care yourselves prepare to meet the Bridegroom, who is near." How are we to prepare? Jesus Himself gives us the answer, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15b). In humble repentance and with trust in our crucified and risen Lord, we are prepared. By God's grace through faith in Jesus, we are clothed in the festive wedding garment of Jesus' righteousness. With lamps of faith brightly burning, we are ready to welcome our Bridegroom, who will soon come to claim His Bride, the church. On the day of His return, raised up from death and transformed in glory, we will celebrate for all eternity the wedding feast of the Lamb!
WE PRAY: Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Wake, Awake for Night Is Flying," which is number 516 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. In general, how attentive is the world to the things of God?
2. Since Jesus is coming soon, is there anything we should be urgently tending to?
3. How do you prepare for a guest who may arrive at any time?
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