Truth Taught- Being prepared for Jesus’ coming is essential because there will come a day when getting ready will be impossible.
The subject of being ready for the Parousia is so important, Jesus tells a second parable about being ready for His coming.
Here, we see the storyline is that of a wedding. In ancient Jewish culture, a wedding was a very important part of village life. Who was invited and who was not was a crucial factor in one’s social status.
It’s here where we must resist seeking to place the wedding and the details within our Western Culture experience surrounding weddings and wedding feasts. There is much that we simply do not know concerning the ancient wedding tradition. We do know some things and this parable fits into this ancient cultural setting.
Jesus’ story has really just two parties. The Ten Girls and the Bridegroom. The Greek term is literally virgins which mean unmarried young girls. From what Jesus tells us, they had a role in the wedding procession. The Ten Girls were to escort the Bridegroom to His house at evening by lamplight.
The problem in the parable is that the Bridegroom was delayed and half of the girls were not ready when He did show. The delay had an affect on the five young girls. They were not ready when He came. They missed the one and only opportunity to greet the Bridegroom and escort Him to His home for the wedding feast. Why were they not ready? They were to have oil for their lamps so they could light the way for the Bridegroom and they had no oil, they were not prepared.
They also discovered that last minute preparation was not sufficient. They could not make some last-minute emergency purchase of oil for their lamps because the Bridegroom had already arrived. Being ready, Jesus tells us means that we must be ready before He comes. Being ready prior to His coming is what is required.
To not be ready in advance means that one does not know the Bridegroom and that He does not know you. So, a Christian, one who knows Jesus as Lord and Savior will be ready when He comes. They possess salvation by grace through faith and because of that saving faith, they will be doing the work the Lord has prepared for them. This is the picture of one who is ready for the Parousia.
Matthew 25:1–13 (ESV)
25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And 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. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
1. The Foolish and Wise Virgins
25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
Jesus opens this parable as He does the Parables of the Kingdom. The difference is that with those earlier parables about the Kingdom of God He begins; the Kingdom of God is like…then He tells us the parable. Here, because the subject matter is His future coming, He introduces the parable by saying, the Kingdom of Heaven will be like.
So, here’s one comparison with Jesus coming. It will be like…
We must remember that a parable usually has one main teaching point. Here, as with the last, the point is one must be ready for Jesus’ Parousia before He comes.
Like last time, in the Parable of the two servants, one was wise and one was wicked. Here we have five wise and five foolish or unwise.
Jesus tells us, doesn’t He that there were five foolish and five wise, that’s verse two. As far as His Parable goes, what made them foolish and wise? The foolish had no oil and so they were not ready when the Bridegroom would come. The wise did have oil and were ready whenever the Bridegroom came. The foolish had their lamps but no oil. The wise had both, lamps and enough oil to escort the Bridegroom to His home for the wedding feast.
2. The Bridegroom is Delayed
5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
According to the parable, it seems all the girls thought they knew when the Bridegroom would come and had not planned on a long delay. However, when there was a long delay, all they fell asleep.
It seems that the tradition was that the procession would be after dark, that’s why they carried oil lamps. However, as the hour grew later and later, they all fell asleep. The issue here is not that they slept after all it was getting late, the issue is that some were ready at any time and the others were not.
According to Jesus previous warning,
Matthew 24:44 (ESV)
44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
The image of all ten sleeping goes along with Jesus’ teaching that His coming is at an hour you do not expect. All slept, all were taken by surprise when He came, all were awaken by the shout…
Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.
3. The Foolish Are Not Ready
7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’
The midnight call came, all woke up and trimmed their lamps. Jesus doesn’t tell us if their lamps had been burning the entire time because trimming the lamp simply means to adjust the amount of light the lamp puts out. They trimmed their lamps for maximum light. Now an oil-soaked wick will burn for a few minutes perhaps but because the foolish girls had no extra oil with them their lamps quickly went out. The Bridegroom was here now and some were ready and some were not.
Here again, Jesus teaches the time of the Parousia is unknown to all even those who are ready and wise. So, we must be ready prior to His coming.
We may think the wise girls are being selfish in not sharing their oil with the others. However, we must realize the foolish girls were the selfish ones. All had time before the coming of the Bridegroom to get ready. The foolish had plenty of time to purchase sufficient amount of oil so they too would be ready but they chose not to. For whatever reason, they had placed some event or personal desire ahead of purchasing enough oil to be ready. There was something more important to them than the Bridegroom.
We also learn that everyone must ready themselves. No one can get someone else ready. We can teach them and tell them but we cannot get them ready. Understand spiritual preparedness is not something that others can provide for you: each person needs their own oil and they must acquire this oil before the Lord comes again or before they die.
4. The Door is Shut
10 And 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. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
The Bridegroom arrives and those who have made preparation escort Him to the wedding feast. Only the five who were ready enter with the Bridegroom to the wedding feast. After the wedding party enter the door is shut.
The closing of the door is the eternal slam shut. It is there to depict eternal judgement. Those who were not ready are forever lost. They are in the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth for all eternity.
This very sad parable shows us this final division at the last judgement.
Jesus has shown us this image of an image of entering the Kingdom threw an open door. Do you remember the parable of the two sons in Matthew 21?
Matthew 21:28–32 (ESV)
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
Matthew 22:8–10 (ESV)
8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
It could be said of the five foolish girls, that they were not worthy. They had not prepared in an adequate way. They did not think the Bridegroom was worthy of prior preparation. They had other things to do. They had other concerns, other priorities.
11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
So, the foolish girls finally show up at the door. Jesus does not tell us whether or not they ever had acquired oil. That really doesn’t matter because the door has been shut.
They knock on the door and shout Lord, Lord open to us. The Bridegroom or as Jesus says, the Lord answered… Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.
This is spoken in the form of a judicial verdict. They are excluded. You see, when you read the Bible, you discover not everyone is welcome. They did not have a relationship with the Bridegroom. They were not part of those who were the Bridegroom’s people.
Matthew 12:50 (ESV)
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
5. Jesus’ Critical Conclusion
13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Again, Jesus repeats Himself for our benefit…WATCH! STAY READY!
Matthew 24:36 (ESV)
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
Matthew 24:42 (ESV)
42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
We learn from this text, all are on their way to meet the Bridegroom. One day everyone will meet Him. Some may have a level of piety. The five foolish girls in many ways looked the part. However, they did not know the Bridegroom nor did He know them.
2 Timothy 3:5 (ESV)
5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Matthew 7:22–23 (ESV)
22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
A long span of time has already elapsed between Jesus’ first coming and what will be His second. While it’s been a long time, we learned today that His return will be sudden and unexpected.
We also learned that preparedness is not transferable from one person to another but is only accomplished as a person comes to Christ by faith and then engages in the works prepared for them.
We also saw that for those not ready—for those not saved either when Jesus comes again or when they die, the door will be forever shut.
Therefore, in light of these absolute truths. For the lost, come to Christ today. Do not put it off. Do not wait thinking that at the last minute or after you’re old you will have the opportunity to come to Christ. Trust Christ as Lord and Savior and repent of your sins today.
For the believer, be ready because He is coming!
The Gospel of Matthew by William Hendriksen
The Gospel of Matthew by R T France