“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 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.’ 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. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Understanding And Applying the Text
As we look at this parable we must remember it is at the end of an answer to a question. “When will the Temple be destroyed?” If we lose sight of the context we have a high likelihood of missing the point Jesus was making.
The temple was the center of the Jewish religion. If the temple was gone what was next? Where would God be? The temple was His dwelling place. Jesus was explaining God’s interaction with His people did not need the temple. The coming of the kingdom was unexpected. Neither the day nor hour was known.
There is often the temptation to take this parable and pick it apart. And look at each detail and give meaning to every little detail. In doing so we run the risk of missing point. The message of the parable is simple and clear. Examining it too closely we only see ink spots on the page rather than the message Christ left for us.
The kingdom of God is coming. The disciples did not know when, but they knew it was coming. So they were to prepare. It is not enough to have been prepared at one time. We must be prepared and ready all the time. We must persevere to the end.
This parable comes from the common custom of the day. Some have tried to make something of the term “virgins.” Chris referred to a common activity for friends at a marriage feast. Virgins would go with the bridegroom to his chamber. Christ did not single out the term “virgins.”
Many have made a big deal out of the fact they all fell asleep. That is reading into the text something that is not there. Christ did not condemn them for sleeping. Neither should we. Christ mentioned the fact they fell asleep to emphasize a point. The bridegroom was late, very late.
The foolish virgins are those who are unprepared for the coming of our Lord. They think they can get ready at the last minute.
This was true during the siege of Jerusalem. During the siege, the Jews fought among themselves. According to Josephus, one faction would burn the provisions of another faction. They were foolish. They were unprepared. So when they were hungry they could not borrow from their neighbor.
The disciples did not know when God would destroy the temple and Jerusalem. But they were to be ready. Being ready meant preparing for a long delay. A short-lived zeal was inadequate.