Matthew 25: 1- 13
What can you do to be more obedient and faithful in your walk with Christ?
With His impending crucifixion just three days away, Jesus used one of His last parables, to illustrate and help us understand the events of His coming judgment and the importance of our being ready. This parable is not about sharing or demonstrating benevolence; rather, it is meant to encourage us to be watchful and productive. This is not about having the correct esoteric theory; rather to be focused on what is most important, to be loyal to our Lord and be on the ready for His call, opportunities and when He comes to call and collect. This end times Parable calls us to be willing to take a look around us, to determine what our loyalties and responsibilities are, and how we can become better in the responsibility to Christ as Lord, being of benefiting to others, preparing ourselves, and most of all, glorifying our Lord.
The general theme is to be prepared and take your responsibility seriously.
At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Matthew 25: 1
The ten virgins had the magnificent opportunity to help in an important ceremony, the most important ceremony in Jesus time—a wedding. It was a seven-day long feast, and they were the principle structure of the wedding. As they are like today’s “Bridesmaids, then called Virgins. Basically, they had the honor and duty of preparing and arranging the wedding celebrations and for this part of the parable, escorting the bride and groom around. They were responsible for preparing the bride for her marriage ceremony, called then, “to meet the bridegroom,” just as today, and carry the ceremony under a canopy. Then, it was a much greater honor.
“Lamps” refers not to the classic small oil lamp, but, rather a torch on top of a staff with a wick soaked in olive oil, or a staff wrapped with a rag soaked in oil. The burnt ends of the rags were cut off (trimmed) and then the oil was added. Olive oil burns very slowly and is not as hot as petroleum.
Why the need for lamps? “Weddings” were held in the evening, after a day of dancing and celebration, and torches were used to light the occasion and in a procession, leading the bride to the groom’s house. The celebration lasted up to seven days; thus, the oil supply was one of the big responsibilities for the bridesmaids. Not to have enough oil for one night was very irresponsible, as it might be needed for a week or more!
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. Matthew 25: 2
“Foolish” refers to relying on zeal only, and not thinking through what needed to be done or being prepared. It was laziness! It was like going on a trip without either a destination or the resources to complete the trip, relying only on the excitement of the trip, which would get people nowhere except for being literally broken down without gasoline. In matters of eternal security, this is devastating. The person who is not in Christ will be cut off forever, because he or she chooses to neglect preparation (Matt. 25:31-46); he or she fails to see what Christ has done, relying on emotions and passion for life, and not considering the death and judgment to come.
Five of them decided to plan ahead and fulfill their duty; the other five decided to let only the excitement be their guide, neglecting to plan out what they needed. They thought, why should we plan? We can just borrow it from the others. But, the others could not share or it would have ruined the wedding. “Not to be prepared,” to miss their opportunity was unthinkable—a nightmare for most young women, then as it is today.
The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. Matthew 25:3
The torches had a very finite amount of fuel and needed to be refueled; they would have known this. They required large amounts of oil in order to keep lit, and the oil had to refill the wick or rag several times an hour. The virgins showed a blatant disregard of responsibility and duty. They also threw away their chance to meet their potential groom and become known in the community. They threw away a prized opportunity to better themselves because they did not feel like preparing!
Now, it comes down to us; where do we invest our lives—in Him or in what is foolish? When we are in Him, do we waste what He gives? We, as Christians, are His servants and we need to be productive and faithful as we wait for His return. If we wait in a foolish manner, we will miss our opportunities, attesting our foolishness (2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 22:20). This parable is about the importance of being prudent and being prepared. The five virgins were not prepared to meet the bridegroom, as someone who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior will not be able to meet Him when He returns!
The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. Matthew 25: 4
“Wise.” These were ones who upheld their duty, honored the groom and the host, and who remained faithful and watchful. They were those who saw opportunities that would be of benefit to them, and took advantage of them by being industrious, but, with dignity and respect.
For us it is a call to be prepared to be the escort of our faith to those around us, as Christ is the Bridegroom, is Who we honor and prepare for. Perhaps for the disciples, they were in denial, or maybe they were stunned that Jesus was talking about His second coming because they did not realize His first was almost over! He wanted them to understand that when He leaves they should not waste their time in doing nothing, in being depressed, or to give up while waiting. He wanted them to know it was still a “go” for doing life! He wanted them to get on with life, to be busy preparing themselves and others for the Kingdom, and yet, to remain watchful.
Questions to Ponder
How does being on time and respecting the time of others honor God and portray good character?
How are some churches irresponsible with the opportunities God gives them?
Are you ready for His coming? What stops you from being prepared?
What can you do to guard against becoming lazy? How do we make our actions count for His glory?
How does keeping our minds upon Christ as Lord help us be ready for anything, even His return?
© 2004, 2011, R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org