Parable of the Ten Virgins: The Wisdom In Waiting
March 14, 2022
- Matthew 24:36-Matthew 25:13 contains five thematic phrases or words of:
- No one knows the time or hour
- Anchors the knowledge of the bridesmaids
- To Keep watch
- Anchors the mission of the bridesmaids
- Be Wise
- Anchors the possession/character of the bridesmaids
- This is exposed by the delay of the parable
- Be prepared/wait
- Anchors the expectation of the bridesmaids
- The teaching point here is that Matthew is concerned about readiness, not the delay of the parousia
- The delay
- Anchors the whole parable, without it there is no parable
- Weddings in those days were:
- The decisive event of someones life
- Separation and a complete change of life
*Is this speaking to the coming of Gods kingdom (as initiated in Christs ministry), or in the Parousia i.e. Christs second coming?
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
- Twice in Matthew Jesus uses the term homoiothestai which means the future will be like:
- Here in Matthew 25, and in Matthew 7:24-26
- Both times Jesus defines the future anticipation in terms of the foolish and wise
*Jesus defined the Parousia (His second coming) as one separated by those who are wise and foolish
- Immediately, this parable introduces a Hebraic allusion to wisdom in the number “Ten”
- The “word” for “ten” is ashir: Ayin (To see, perceive), Shin (consume, destroy), Resh (humility, bowing man)
- Means to be consumed by humility in order to discern (wisdom)
- The numerical symbol for “10” is the yod, which depicts God’s working hand (Ten annotates to see humbly see how God is working)
- Ten always annotated a wisdom narrative/point/instruction
- Example: The Ten commandments summarize the law…and the law is referred as the “Wisdom of God” (Psalm 19:7, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 1:4)
- Book of Ecclesiastes states the “Fear of God” is the beginning of all wisdom
- Here then, the wise bridesmaids demonstrate:
- Ability to discern/see what God is doing
- Fear/awe of God
3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.
5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
- When the groom decided to get the bride, a bridegroom would kick the door in, blow a trumpet, and announce the arrival of the bridegroom
- The bridegroom, with his bride, would be escorted by the groomsman and bridesmaids in a procession lit by torches and singing.
- It was a religious duty to join in the procession if you saw it
- Notice the delay:
- In the previous parable, Jesus said the time would come sooner than many believe, now, it seems He says it will also be later than others believe
- There is no negative connotation to them falling asleep…both wise and foolish went to sleep
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
- The bridesmaids had a long delay to make sure they were ready…and the wise ensured they were
- They were expected to be ready to honor the bride and groom to fulfill the purpose they were assigned
- It was a big deal to partake in the procession…a honor…and half squandered it
*When Jesus comes back, His reign and expectation should not seem foreign, surprising, or new to you, rather you have been working your entire life to honor the King when He comes…preparing your lamp!
- At the heart of our faith is the expectation that one day, Christ, and by extension us will be vindicated, God will set all things right, and we will all live under this coming reign of God. Its hard to be vindicated of a message you never gave
- Being prepared and ready for this reign means having an attitude, commitment, and lifestyle of this expectation
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
- This seems harsh, but understand torches were of signal importance to the feast, if they arrived at banquet with burned out torches it would have been a profound humiliation and dishonor to the bride
- A bridal procession without torches would be considered shameful and a catastrophe…the village would gossip about it for many years
- Much like running out of wine (See John 3)
*The wise bridesmaids refusal to share oil SAVED the banquet and was in keeping with the highest honor to the bride and groom…the foolish bridesmaids unprepared was a great dishonor to them
- Jesus demanded vigilance and readiness because there was a lot at stake
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
- The OT describes Gods relationship with Israel as one between a bride and bridegroom, and the Qumran texts shows there was teaching that the bridegroom was associated to the messiah as Christ associates Himself and the church as a bridge/bridegroom relationship.
- I don’t know you: see Matthew 7:21-23 – You may know Jesus, but does Jesus know you? NOTE: The foolish bridesmaids expected the coming of the groom, knew the expectation and role, and fully expected to attend the banquet
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
*Wisdom is directly synonymous with readiness in this parable
- It compares readiness to participate in the celebration of a wedding to the readiness to participate in the coming kingdom
- Delay of Jesus coming is FILLED with the mission of the Church…to make the world ready…we do not start ministry once Jesus comes back…we celebrate at the banquet when He comes back!
- Meaning, serve, worship, fear God in humility
Questions for Guided Discussion
- This parable anchors on wisdom, and often, many confuse wisdom with knowledge or intelligence. What is the difference between wisdom and intelligence or knowledge?
- Biblically defined, wisdom means to live in a fear, awe, and wonder of God. It means to properly apply Gods instruction and see what God is doing. Lastly, it means to live life in a state of humility. What elements could define a foolish believer today?
- The foolish virgins did not take their job serious and it dishonored the groom. Do you take your mission in faith and the church with the same seriousness as the wise bridesmaids here?
- What is the consequence for both the wise and foolish?
- Just like many believers today, both the wise and foolish bridesmaids expected the coming of the groom, knew the expectation of the procession, and believed they would attend the banquet. Does this fact wake you up to the fact that merely expecting Christ to return is not enough, rather you must be ready?
- Modern Christianity has pushed the question Do You Know Jesus? Have you ever questioned, does Jesus Know YOU?
- When Jesus comes back, His return and expectations of the kingdom should not surprise you. The same principles He charges believers today will be expected then. Are you holding off doing what God commands us to do because we are not serious enough about His return? With forgiveness? Mercy? Grace? Patience?
- What distracts or hinders you from staying ready? Staying aware? Staying wise to what God is doing and asking?