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  • Writer's pictureJane Wheeler

Parable of the 10 Virgins

As in any passage in the Bible we need to be aware of the context: who wrote it, why and how its fit into the whole chapter and book of the Bible.

The disciple Matthew wrote the Parable of the 10 virgins. It was written in answer to a question the disciples asked Jesus as He sat on the Mount of Olives, it was said to the disciples 2 days before Jesus would eat Passover with His disciples, the night He would be arrested and 3 days before He was cruicified. This was one of the final stories Jesus would tell. Jesus knowing full well where the week was headed, felt He needed to give us this parable.

And as He sat upon the mount of Olives the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, ‘tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:3

Watch out that no one deceives you.” Matthew 24:4

And then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” Matthew 24:9

Not really a good way to start a story with predictions of imminent death, ours.

Jesus goes into the story of the fig tree, if you see the twigs on the tree start to get tender, you know that summer is approaching. Jesus implys that we know how to interpret the trees, and nature, we should be watching for signs of His return.

He also says that when He comes back, no one will know the time or the hour. Therefore keep watch, lest you are not ready. Nestled into the middle of this discourse are a couple of stories, the 10 virgins, the businessman who goes away but leaves his employees with money to use to make him a profit while he is away.

Ready for what? For His return and He gives us directions to be wise in how we act and what we do while we wait.

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridgegroom. 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

Imbedded in the signs of the end times is this little story about 10 virgins. We see that the 10 virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. They were waiting for the groom to come to them.

In Jewish tradition the groom to be would make a journey to the future brides home and make an agreement, a promise with the family to acquire the bride, at this point they would be betrothed, engaged. Upon an agreement the groom would leave the bride with a present, a special gift that she can treasure and know that her groom is committed to her. It was often jewellry. The groom would then leave the bride at the home of her parents and go back to his own home to “make a place for them to live.” When the time was right the groom would come back to take the bride to live with him at his home and the wedding ceremony would happen.

If all this sounds a bit familiar it is because it is what Jesus did for us.

Jesus left His home in heaven to come to earth. He made an agreement with us, a pledge, a promise to take us to be with Him, as His bride and then He left to go back to heaven to “prepare a place for us.” He then promises that He will return and take us to be “with Him.” Just as the groom in the above paragraph left His bride with a gift, Jesus left us with a gift. He promised that when He left us, He would send the Comforter, the Helper, the Holy Spirit. Did you ever think of the Holy Spirit as a bridal gift? A gift that we can hold onto and use to help us remember that Jesus is indeed coming back.

The 10 virgins had lamps filled with oil. In the Bible, oil is referenced to the Holy Spirit. If that is the case, then the 5 “wise” ones had extra oil, where did they get it? Remember Jesus started with “At that time the Kingdom of God will be like….” The Kingdom of Heaven is here, on this earth. We followers of God, are the Kingdom of Heaven, we are God’s hands and feet, we are God’s ambassadors. We bring the Kingdom of God when we walk the earth.

Jesus had just talked about these dark days leading up to this time in the chapter before. We will need the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to live in such days. Jesus sent us His Helper to walk and be with us.

The 10 virgins all have oil. Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit, 5 had more oil than the others, in the Kingdom of God you only get more by giving what God gave you away. It is how it works. You get more when you give what God gave you away. The 5 wise virgins had been giving the blessings of the Holy Spirit away so they could be refilled. You cannot fill a vessel that has no room.

The foolish 5, were not getting refilled.

The story says that the bridegroom gets delayed, and all 10 fall asleep. How foolish of all of them, then it gets interesting. The 5 “wise” turn into the 5 “selfish” as they tell the ones without oil, that they will not share with them. This is not how the Kingdom is supposed to work.

The 5 who have gone away to buy more oil, come back too late to enter the wedding. In fact God tells them plainly, I never knew you.

Jesus followed this story with another story of the bags of gold – you know the man with 5 bags profited 5 more, the man with 2 bags, profited 2 more but the man with 1 bag – hid it because he was scared of what the boss would do to him if he lost it.

The boss gets mad and gives his one little bag to the man who has the 5. It appears that what you do with the gifts God gives you is eternally important.

Jesus is 2 days away from passover, the night He gets betrayed and sentenced to die and these are the stories He is giving to His disciples.

Jesus is very much interested in how we live in the days preceeding His return, His words and stories are all about how to live, whether the days are dark or light. The 10 virgins story is essentially about how to be about your Father’s business. God’s business.

Jesus is saying, I have given you everything you need to complete the work of my Father on the earth, including this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. He admonishes us to not be like the 5 unwise virgins who chose to not do anything with the oil, they did not make more, they did not invest in making more. They then wanted the others to “carry them” or “spot them” some oil, totally selfish. God gives them this precious gift and they simply do not use it, they do not invest in the kingdom, they would rather sit back and wait for the groom to come and make it all better. Except they miss the groom. 

Is that not how a lot of us would be if we really knew what day Jesus is coming back? We would rush around trying to make points, telling people to get ready cause Jesus is coming tomorrow.

Notice that the story says the groom was a long time in coming and all the virgins went to sleep. Jesus has been gone over 2,000 years, that is quite a delay. Are you snoozing and have given up hope of seeing Him in your lifetime? Or are you taking His words to heart and investing in the kingdom so that no matter when He comes, you are entirely ready?

I have heard and read many interpretations on this passage and most seem to point to – loosing your salvation. That is not what God downloaded to me at all. You see your salvation was bought and paid for, but not by you. You never earned it, you cannot earn it and you will never be good enough to keep it because your salvation is and always will be dependent on Jesus death and resurrection. When Jesus said: “It is finished.” He really meant it. Your salvation is paid in full, past, present and future, your job is to accept and believe it: period.

What can be affected is your place in heaven, your rewards in heaven and the lives of all people around you. God is for people, all people. He created them so He kind of thinks people are worth the cost. Do you? Or are you prepared to simply live in your own bubble, letting the world go by without knowing who God wants to be for them? You, yes you, are the hands and feet of Jesus, you bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. Jesus gave you the very powerful, Holy Spirit, it is this Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, it is this Spirit that heals, restores, renews. Are you using it?

The very last line of Jesus before He was taken up to heaven is: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20

At that time the Kingdom of God will be like……” That day my friends is today, chose wisely how you will live it.

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