Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV)

1 “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.’ 10 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. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

With another parable, Jesus emphasized how critically important it is for people to be ready for his return. This time, he related the kingdom of heaven to ten virgins or girls going out to meet a bridegroom. Weddings in the time of Christ were different from weddings today. First, engagements were much more binding than our engagements, and a broken engagement necessitated a formal divorce The engagement usually lasted a year, and then the wedding took place. On the wedding night, the bridegroom and his party would go to the home of the bride to meet her and her party. When the two groups came together, the wedding took place. This would often happen at night, so the attendants carried lamps or torches. In Jesus’ parable, the ten girls waiting to meet the bridegroom were part of the bride’s party. But half of them didn’t prepare for the groom’s coming. They didn’t have enough oil for their lamps. The parable calls these girls “foolish,” or more literally “stupid.” The smart girls realized they didn’t know when the bridegroom would show up, so they made sure to have enough oil and to stay ready to go at any time. The bridegroom ended up coming late (v. 5), and the foolish girls had to live with the consequences of their lack of preparedness. By the time they were able to wake up a merchant whom they could to buy oil from in the middle of the night, the bridegroom was gone, the wedding feast had begun, and the foolish girls were locked out.

Jesus used this story to teach his followers what his return will be like. When the foolish girls arrived at the wedding feast, they assumed there would be a place for them. But they were too late. The bridegroom answers them with the harsh reply in verse 12, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.” Wow. That must have been a shock. Why didn’t the five who had oil just share it with the foolish five? We must remember that readiness for Jesus’ return is not something that can be shared. Each person is accountable for herself. In the same way, we must be prepared for Christ’s return. If you know God is expecting something from you and you are putting it off, stop procrastinating today. Don’t neglect what you should do. You never know when it will be too late.