Please turn your attention with me to Matthew 25:1-13 where we see the parable of the Ten Virgins. Before we get to the parable, let us look to the context of the parable. In response to the disciples’ request to know what will be the sign of our Lord’s coming and the end of the age (Matthew 24:3), Jesus spoke to them about the last days. He made it clear that the end would not come immediately, but only after considerable time and troubles (Matthew 24:4-31). Our Lord issued various warnings, because during these troubled times there would be many intruders, who would seek to turn men’s attention and affections away from Jesus, the true Messiah so we need to watch out that no one deceives us. Many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. There are several things that are missing in this parable. From where is the groom coming? Where are the virgins waiting? What will happen there? What role do the lamps play in this ceremony and celebration? And, perhaps most notable, where is the bride? She is never mentioned. It is obviously the coming of the groom- the Savior at the end of the age is central to this story.
With these things in mind, let me paraphrase the story. There was a wedding, to which ten young virgins were invited as participants. It would seem that in some way they were instructed to bring lamps, so that at the right time they could have some kind of a light procession. All ten virgins brought their lamps, but only five brought the necessary oil as well. They all waited for the groom to arrive. Time passed and darkness set in. The groom tarried longer than expected and so all ten virgins slept until he arrived. Suddenly, at midnight someone cried out that the groom was approaching. All ten virgins are awakened by this cry, and they begin to prepare their lamps for ceremonial service. The need for these lamps is now particularly obvious as it is midnight and pitch dark. The five foolish virgins ask the five wise virgins to share their oil, but their request is denied. It was not that the five wise virgins did not care; or they did not want to share but it was because there would not be enough oil for all ten lamps. Better to have a procession with five working lamps than with ten non-functioning, lightless lamps. The foolish virgins were told to go and purchase their own oil, which they did. But during their absence the bride groom arrived, accompanied by the five wise virgins entered the celebration hall. The doors were then closed. Later the five foolish virgins arrived with oil, but it was too late and they were not allowed to enter and join in the wedding celebration. Even though the five virgins begged, “Lord, Lord open the door for us”, they were sent away with the words, “I do not know you!” Our Lord then concludes this parable by applying it to His disciples and thus to the church. He urges His disciples to stay alert, because they too, do not know the day or the hour of His return.
In Matthew 25 Jesus compares Christian living right before the end of the world to ten virgins. This parable of the ten virgins has always been an unforgettable warning. This parable encourages us that “persistence and perseverance in watchfulness from a prudent foresight of the coming of Christ” is needed to make it into the marriage feast. These ten virgins had much in common. We see a lot of similarities among them: They were all virgins, they all had lamps, all lighted the lamp, they were all awake and watchful for some time, they all had so much faith as to go out to meet the bridegroom, they all became drowsy and fell asleep, they all heard the shouting sound and all the virgins woke up. But yet, there were clear differences: Generally, “five were wise” and “five were foolish,” as mentioned in verse 2. Specifically, the foolish took lamps, but no oil; the wise took oil in jars along with their lamps. Now all these ten virgins had a very big problem. Do you know what it was? What they were all doing when they heard the cry: ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ They were all sleeping. It is the condition of Christians and the church in these last days. The question is- Are you sleeping? Some might be saying wait, I am not sleeping; I am ready for Jesus to come but when Jesus describes His last day church, He says that all ten virgins were sleeping.
What, then, is the unique contribution of the parable of the ten virgins? We see that this parable describes what the “kingdom of heaven” will be like at the time of the second coming. Some would say and I would agree that this parable describes the condition of the church at the second coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus is speaking here to His disciples; He is not speaking to His adversaries, the Jewish religious leaders, or to the crowds. Thus, this parable would serve as a warning to the church. We should observe that for some period of time the five foolish virgins were almost indistinguishable and vague from the five wise virgins. The five foolish virgins looked just like the five wise virgins. They all were invited to the wedding celebration, and they all came, expecting to participate in the wedding. The five foolish virgins were not different from the five wise virgins, except for one thing “the foolish virgins brought their lamps but no oil. None of the ten virgins knew when the groom would arrive, and all ten slept when he took longer than expected to arrive. All slept, and all were awakened by the news of the groom’s approach. In this parable, we are initially surprised and even disappointed that the five wise virgins will not share their oil with the foolish virgins. This is not because the five wise virgins were selfish. In the context of the story, sharing their oil may have meant that all ten would run short of oil. But when we come to the interpretation of this parable, we can see that the saved cannot share what they have in Christ with the lost. The lost will not enter heaven based on the salvation others have received. Each person is accountable for his own choices. One important thing we find in the story is that it emphasized here that once our Lord returns; there is neither the time nor the opportunity for the foolish virgins to change their course of unbelief. There is a “point of no return,” after which one’s rejection of Christ cannot be reversed. For some, this “point of no return” is death. For others who are alive, the second coming of Christ will be the point of no return. In our text, the foolish virgins are not given the time to reverse their foolishness, once the groom has come. They had their opportunity but they lost it.
We have been preaching and talking about Christ’s coming for a long, long time. But we are not expecting or thinking that the end of the world is right here. But don’t you think that there are enough things happening around us. The news that we hear every day should be waking us up. Are you preparing for Jesus’ second coming or are you sleeping? Are you studying the scriptures and praying daily or are you are too busy. We need to understand that we as a church need to believe the truths of the scripture as the scripture is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. As a Bible believing group of people we need to prepare for and expect Christ’s second coming. My friends, we are living in that tarrying time. Our grandparents and our parents have been saying Jesus is coming soon and we may think, well how long do I have to wait? He has not come yet but the reality is that a day is coming when every Bible believing Christian will wake up from their sleep. But you cannot buy a salvation experience from others. We all need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the savior of the world. In Matthew 25:10 we see in verse 11 &12 that when the foolish virgins come back, the door is shut and they say “Lord, Lord, open to us”, but He answered and said verily I am saying to you, I don’t know you. According 1 John 4:8 Jesus says I know you not, because you have not loved me. Do you love Jesus enough or do you just talk about Him once in a while or spend a couple of minutes in prayer here and there? Jesus should be the dearest and most important person, a friend for each and every one of us because when Jesus the bridegroom comes back, He is coming for those who love Him. My friends, today we need to figure out if we are wise or are we foolish? If we are foolish, now is the time to become wise and to be strengthened in scripture.
The outcome is either heaven or hell, and thus the key element is salvation. The difference between the foolish virgins and the wise virgins was one thing: The wise virgins had the opportunity to obtain oil, and did so. The foolish virgins had plenty of opportunity to procure oil, but they did not. It is possible to be in close contact with Christ and with Christians and yet not be saved. Jesus is warning us in this parable that there will be a number of people who look like Christians, who associate with Christians, and who even think they are Christians but will be shocked to learn that they are not saved at the return of our Lord. This text is not seeking to create uncertainty and doubt in the heart of the Christian. But it is seeking to warn those who have a false assurance, but not salvation. Jesus wants us to be careful about assuming we are saved, if indeed we are not. It is for this reason that the apostles challenge us to examine ourselves; to be sure we are in the faith. We dare not assume that everyone who claims to trust in Jesus is genuinely saved. The Bible says that we cannot be saved by doing good works, but only through the work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. The only way of salvation is for men to acknowledge their sin and to trust in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
‘Wise virgins’ represent those who can recognize God’s voice and who can therefore accept and submit to Christ. The ‘foolish virgins’ do not know the voice of the Lord and cannot recognize God’s voice, they reject Christ. It is very difficult to accept Christ without real faith in God. Those who refuse to accept Christ will miss the ‘wedding feast of the Beloved,’ and they cannot be taken back by the Lord into their home in the kingdom of heaven, and they cannot enter the place that God has prepared for mankind. The Lord Jesus predicted in the Bible that at the time of His return there would be two types of people, He used wise virgins and foolish virgins as a parable for all of the believers in the Age of Grace: All those who are able to hear the voice of God are wise; all those who are not able to hear the voice of God, or who listen and still deny and do not believe it, are the foolish. But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. How can sheep be separated from goats? The Lord Jesus said about this in His parable about sheep and goats. This depends upon who recognizes the voice of God and accepts the return of the Lord Jesus. This is how the true believers are separated from the false believers, those who have received the Lord from those who have not, those who acknowledge the voice of God from those who do not. The word of God in the last days classifies and divides people into the categories they belong to, and then God will start to reward the good and punish the wicked. How will He reward the good? The wise virgins will be brought face to face with God and feast alongside Him. In the end they will be cleansed and perfected. It doesn’t matter how many years the foolish virgins believe in the Lord, or how much they expend themselves for God, or how many hardships they suffer. Since they deny and refuse the word of God, and do not accept the work of God, they will be eliminated and put into the darkness where weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is the punishment of the wicked.