The Parable of the 10 Virgins

January 23, 2022

Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming (Matthew 25:1-13).

Jesus continues to warn us to be prepared for His return. Why? Because we don’t know when that will be. This warning, and its consequences, are illustrated through a traditional Jewish wedding. The bridegroom, with his close friends, would leave his house to go to the bride’s house. There they would engage in various traditional festivities. They would then proceed through the streets with a crowd of celebrants, after dark, back to the groom’s house. The bridesmaids would wait at the groom’s house for the bride and groom to arrive. Everyone was expected to carry his own torch. Those not having a torch would not be allowed to participate in the wedding or the celebration (they were thought to be party crashers). The torch was either a lamp with a small tank of oil and wick, or a stick with a rag soaked in oil and tied on its end. Both would require occasional ‘re-oiling’ to maintain the flame.

In the parable the bridegroom is Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19–20; John 3:27–30), the bride is the church (Ephesians 5:25–32), and the 10 virgins are those who profess to know the bride and groom personally. Outwardly they look the same. Their conduct appears to be the same. But the difference is that 5 virgins carried extra oil, while 5 did not. The point is that Jesus Christ will return at an unknown time and people must be prepared when He does. The primary preparation is to have oil in your lamp - to be saved, to be filled with the Holy Spirit (oil) in your life.

It is true that all 10 virgins fell asleep while waiting for the groom. But when the arrival of the groom was announced, 5 were ready to receive Him and 5 were not. The unprepared virgins could not go into the wedding ceremony or feast. This means that even Christians can get caught up in life and living, but when the Lord returns, those who are truly saved will enter into the marriage feast of the Lamb while those who are not saved will not. Like the unrepentant people in the days of Noah, they will cry out to enter, but the door will be shut to them.

“Holy Spirit, keep us ready for the return of Jesus. May we watch and wait for His coming, and may we assist others in being prepared through the Gospel we share. Amen.” 


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