The Parable Of The Ten Virgins


‘At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “‘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.’ “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. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.’ Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus says to His followers, ‘Ready or not I am coming!’ Jesus isn’t talking about how His followers were to be prepared for the Destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. He’s telling the whole world to be ready because He is coming back sometime in the future.

Jesus shares three things that, ‘we cannot do’.

1. We cannot neglect preparation and be ready for His coming.

Jesus wastes no time in getting straight to the point after sharing this parable. Now the keyword in Matthew 25:13 is the word ‘Watch’. But what does it mean to watch? And in what way are Christians to watch for Christ’s return?

Well, it certainly doesn’t mean what His disciples were doing in Acts 1:7-11. You see “watching” doesn’t mean intently looking up into the sky 24hrs a day, every day, waiting for the first glimpse of His glorious appearance. It also doesn’t mean that we’re to talk about nothing else but His coming.

Christians must ‘watch’ with more than their eyes and their tongues, Colossians 3:1-2. To watch is to have some forethought of the future. It means to make some prior precautions, to make some preliminary preparation, and continue in that preparation.

And why is this preparation so important? Well, this was the very thing the foolish virgins failed to do, Matthew 25:1-3 / Matthew 25:8. In other words, they had their lamps, they had their oil and they began to wait eagerly, but they didn’t have enough oil.

It never entered their minds that the bridegroom might delay and it’s because of this that Jesus called them ‘foolish’. And notice they weren’t ungodly or immoral, they weren’t even hypocrites.

They were simply foolish because they didn’t allow for the possibility of delay. In short when the Lord returned they were unprepared.

One of the most inescapable lessons from life is the necessity of being prepared. Practically everything that is done requires preparation. It’s true or reading, writing and arithmetic.

It’s true of buying and selling, sowing, reaping, winning and keeping friends. There are certain things in life, which cannot be done at the last minute. If you ever go on holiday you will understand just how much preparation is needed before you go.

Preparation is essential for knowledge, just ask any teacher. And they would tell you if only the children studied and worked as hard throughout the whole year as they do the night before a final exam. In other words, the time of examination is not the time of preparation.

When the foolish virgins realised they didn’t have enough oil, they asked the wise virgins for some of theirs, but they refused because they didn’t have enough, and told them to go and buy some of their own, Matthew 25:9-10.

It is necessary for everyone to make preparations for the greatest examination and the greatest journey in life. On Judgement Day it will be too late to make up for any previous neglect of previous preparation. Because as we know it would be foolish of us to think that we can buy oil after the shops are shut.

2. We cannot borrow what must be bought.

When you read this parable we can’t help but sympathise with the foolish virgins.

I mean, why didn’t the wise virgins give to the foolish virgins? How could they be so heartless and refuse to share their oil with others at a time of distress?

The answer is quite simple, you cannot borrow something, which must be bought. How many times do we hear people calling upon the faith of another person? And people talk like this as though they have inherited some of their faith.

What Jesus is teaching us here is that obedience to God is another thing that cannot be borrowed. Each one is accountable individually, Hebrews 9:27 / Romans 14:10-12. Our submission to God is our submission, our faith needs to be our faith.

3. We cannot recall lost opportunities.

When the bridegroom came, the foolish maidens were out trying to buy oil for their lamps, Matthew 25:10. What a sad picture this is, isn’t it? And so on returning they found that the marriage feast had already begun and the door was shut. They missed their one chance. They didn’t seize their one great moment.

Every day brings us opportunities that we must not neglect. Opportunities to help others are all around us. And these opportunities aren’t just in India or Africa, they’re right here on our doorstep. Today we may well have an opportunity to enter an open door to do good, Galatians 6:10.

And if we fail to go through that door, it will be shut. It will shut us out from the joy of serving and shut us in with a selfish heart. The truth of the parable is that the failure of the foolish virgins was final. According to Jesus, some came back even later, Matthew 25:11-12. The door was shut and it was shut forever.

How much those girls desired to enter, how long they had looked forward to the marriage. They were near to the reception, so near in fact that they could hear the inexpressible joy inside and yet they were so far.

We shouldn’t be asking the question, when will Jesus come again? That’s the wrong question. The real question we should be asking ourselves is, “are our lamps trimmed and burning?” That’s why Jesus says in Matthew 25:13 “Therefore keep watch.”

Jesus is coming and I know that some religious groups use His coming as a form of scaremongering people into becoming followers of their ways. But there’s no denying the truth, He’s coming and when is His coming going to take place?

Now again many religious groups have tried time and time again to predict His coming and time and time again they have been made to look foolish, but still, they go on predicting. But Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:13 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know the day or the hour”.

Nobody knows when He’s going to return, so it’s not even worth the effort to try and figure out when He’s coming back. Because that’s not the question of the Bible, the question of the Bible is, are you ready?

Because if you’re ready, then you will be willing to be patient and you will be willing and ready to stand firm until He does return, Philippians 1:20-23 / James 5:7-8.

The world began with the Word of God and when Christ returns this present world will end with the Word of God. That’s the truth and that’s a promise, but it’s not my promise, it’s God’s promise, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18.

I guess we all have our own ideas about what Judgement Day will be like, but God tells us there won’t be a test but there will be an examination.

Any examination starts with preparation, it’s entirely up to you about how much preparation you’re willing to put in, 2 Corinthians 5:10.

There is really only one way to be sure that we are ready for the Day of Judgement when Christ returns and that is to be ready every day.