What must we do to be prepared for Christ’s Coming? Let’s learn how to prepare in the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13.
Matthew 25:1-2 “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.”
Traditionally, a bridegroom prepared a home for his bride. When finished, the groom came for his bride at midnight. The bridesmaids lit the procession with their lamps. Christ has prepared to be with the woman he passionately loves, the Church. Who has their lamps ready to join the wedding procession?
Matthew 25:3-4 “Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”
Olive oil was used to fuel lamps (Numbers 4:16) and symbolizes the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13). The five foolish virgins had no fuel for their Christian lamp, neglecting the light of good deeds (Matthew 5:14-16). Blessed is the one who is spiritually awake (Revelation 16:15).
Matthew 25:5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
We don’t know when Jesus will come for us. How long will we put off necessary spiritual preparations for the kingdom of heaven? How long will we persist in unrepentant sins, hoping to repent later? How long before we act upon the Gospel message by approaching the throne of mercy?
Matthew 25:6 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.
In earthquake and tropical storm zones preparedness means tough building codes. In tornado and wildfire zones it means tornado-proof or fire-proof structures and underground shelters. Jesus also addressed the idea of preparedness. He will return in power and when he does will we be among the wise who are ready?
Matthew 25:8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
The heavenly oil sustains our light of good deeds and neighborly love, without burning out (Matthew 5:13-16). This is explained more at the end of Matthew 25. Spiritual burnout is an ever present danger. The more we shine in acts of charity, the more we need that replenishing oil.
Matthew 25:9 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.’
We need the oil before Jesus returns. When he comes it will be too late. We need the oil of joy (Hebrews 1:9), of healing (James 5:14) of the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13)? The light of good deeds is sustained by the oil (Matthew 5:13-16).
Matthew 25:10-12 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.’
Some people are locked out of the wedding. The bridegroom tells them he does not know them. Spiritual preparedness cannot be delegated. Each of us can only prepare for ourselves. How many of us are not spiritually prepared because we have been thinking we could borrow righteousness from someone else?
Do we make every effort to know God and allow him to know us? Prayer and Bible study are a partial answer. The parable is only an introduction to the question. In context, we need to read to the end of Matthew 25. That is a sermon for another day.
Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
Does keeping watch mean hysterically awake, watching world events nervously for the end of the world? No, the wise bridesmaids slept. We can be ready even while we rest in Christ. Spiritual preparation is an individual duty that nobody else can do for us and involves getting to know God.
The two imperatives for us in this text are having spiritual oil and that our God Jesus knows us. Wise virgins are ready and watchful. He may come for our souls sooner than we think. Let’s prepare today, so that when Jesus comes for us, we may be found ready.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Matthew 25:1-13 in Rhyme
The kingdom of heaven’s akin
To twelve bridesmaids with lamps therein
Who went out to meet the bridegroom
Five wise and five headed to doom
The foolish took no oil at all
But the wise had no oil shortfall
While the bridegroom delayed they dozed
And at midnight a cry disclosed
Behold, the bridegroom is coming
Let’s all go out to the greeting
Give us some oil, the foolish said
No, go and buy your own instead
There’s not enough for us and you
The bridegroom came, and they were through
And He told them, I don’t know you
Watch, be ready for His debut