Summary: The key question being asked by this parable is, “Are you ready to meet Jesus?” This question confronts us with four spiritual truths.
You can listen to the full message here:-
The Ten Virgins
Let’s turn in our Bible to Matthew 25:1-13 and read the parable there.
A marriage in first century Judea had three stages.
1) The marriage arrangement where families got together to discuss the idea of a son from one family marrying a daughter from another family.
2) The betrothal where the couple make a commitment to get married with the support of both families. The son and daughter would still live with their own family.
3) The marriage when the couple actually start to live together as husband and wife.
Surprisingly, beyond these well-documented stages, there is not a lot of historical evidence available that describes in detail how weddings took place in first century Israel.
We know weddings were celebrated in a household – either the bride’s house or the groom’s house.
We know that, at some point, the groom retrieves his bride to be.
We also know that there was always a lot of waiting involved.
At some point in the evening the groom would turn up. When the groom turned up the celebrations would begin. This celebration would start with some sort of procession, a procession lead by the bridesmaids.
Waiting was expected, it was not unusual.
Being prepared was expected, it was not unusual.
Everyone needed to be ready even when there was a delay.
Ready for what?
Look at Matthew 25:1
At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
“At that time” connects this parable to chapter 24, specifically verses 36, 42, 44.
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
The previous section is focussed on the end times – the return of Jesus. Jesus is the bridegroom. His return will happen at an unknown time. His return will be unexpected. It will take place but there is a delay. Let’s read two Scripture passages.
On the day Jesus ascended
Two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Jesus will return at exactly the right moment. It might feel like a long delay, but it is a delay with purpose.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
So, the key question being asked by this parable is, “Are you ready to meet Jesus?” As we think about this question we are confronted with a number of spiritual truths.
Spiritual Truth 1.
Spiritual preparation and growth do not happen automatically.
We can never get to a point where … even after we have worked hard as a believer … where we think what we have done is enough. In fact, there are times when we can fool ourselves into thinking we are spiritually OK … but we are not.
You see it happening in our text.
All ten have made themselves available having been chosen to be a part of the wedding feast.
All ten are dressed in similar outfits.
All were expecting the same bridegroom.
When the bridegroom was delayed they all fell asleep.
They all had lamps.
All ten have progressed to a specific part of the journey.
The only difference was the oil. The five foolish bridesmaids had made a life choice – in their case the simple life choice of not getting extra oil – and as a result they end up being locked outside the wedding feast. They were not prepared for the delay.
We need to be prepared for the delay. How do we do this?
That brings us to Spiritual Truth 2.
Spiritual preparation and growth recognises that, just because you look right, that does not mean we are right.