In Matthew 24, Jesus gave a few parables addressing the need for His people to prepare for His return. He continued the same thought in Matthew 25, teaching the parable of the ten virgins.
A Shared Appearance
As we begin to look at the parable, it is noteworthy that all ten virgins are associated with the bridegroom and His kingdom. Jesus said:
…the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (Matthew 25:1)
The Lord used an image of purity to describe all 10, they are called virgins. Also, they all share the same mission, to meet the bridegroom.
The Lord makes no distinction among them so far as identity. All 10 were virgins. It is also important to note that no distinction is found so far as appearance. A glance at them would show all 10 with their lamps. What distinguished the wise from the foolish was their preparation—the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. The foolish did not. All 10 appeared to be ready, but appearing to be ready is not the same as being ready.
A Lack of Preparation
All seemed fine for the foolish virgins until the call was heard for them to go out to meet the bridegroom. Now their lack of preparation was manifest. They did not have sufficient oil to go meet him, so they asked the wise to share their oil with them. Lest there not be enough, the wise virgins told the foolish to go and buy for themselves. Jesus tells us,
…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.’ (Matthew 25:10-12)
Be On Time Or Miss The Boat
The foolish expected to enter the wedding, despite the fact that they showed up late. Why did the Lord not permit them to enter? Why did he not open the door for them? Being unprepared and late is seldom rewarded. It almost always has unwanted results. Show up at the bus depot late, and you will miss your bus. Arrive late for an exam and you may not be permitted to write it. Show up to your wedding late (likely have to be really late on that one), and you may not be getting married. Though they wanted to be at the wedding, their failure to prepare was their downfall.
Call it what you will; selfishness, procrastination, laziness—the bottom line is their focus was not on the bridegroom as needed.
The lesson for us from this parable is that we need to be prepared. Some comfort themselves, believing the 5 foolish virgins are not the Lord’s. The unrighteous are not part of the Lord’s kingdom, nor are they interested in meeting the Lord. Some who have obeyed the gospel have failed to make sure they are ready for the Lord’s coming. It is not enough to carry a lamp—we must have the oil! Just as oil is needed to light a lamp, it is necessary for the child of God to have good works. Hear the words of the Saviour:
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
Do Good Works
We are called in Christ to do good works. Paul wrote:
…we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
In Galatians 6:10, Paul wrote:
…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)
In John 15:8, Jesus said that we should bear much fruit. If we are not doing good works, we are not storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). Without good works, we are not prepared to enter the kingdom of heaven. There’s an emphasis on the need for good works in the New Testament. As Paul wrote to Titus, he told him to be an example of good works (Titus 2:7), that Christians should be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14), that God’s people should be careful to be involved in good works (Titus 3:8), and that if we are not doing good works, we are unfruitful (Titus 3:14).
Christians who are not doing good works are not ready for the Lord to return. We cannot enter heaven based upon the works of others (ie. asking the wise to share their oil). We need to come to the Lord, serving Him in our own lives, doing good in His name.
In Noah’s day, the people were warned of the coming judgment but did not listen. The day came when Noah and his family entered the ark, and God closed the door. It was too late to enter the ark. It will be the same with the Lord’s coming—if we are not ready to meet Him then, we will be outside, cast into hell. Let’s be prepared!