A parable for preparedness
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Matthew 25:1
I think that personal preparedness is one of the important points of the Parable of the Ten Virgins. In this parable, our Lord tells a story about a wedding. In those days, a bridegroom would go to his bride’s home and then later – usually in the evening – return to his home with his bride. It was then that the real festivities started, which might last for several days.
However, our Lord’s focus here is on some of the attendants, who were waiting at the bridegroom’s house for his arrival with the bride. Each person was supposed to carry a “lamp” – here this was probably a torch that was covered in rags soaked with oil. To participate in the triumphal procession you needed a torch. In this parable, there are ten maidens – we don’t know exactly what their role was, perhaps they were attendants of the bride – who are waiting with torches in their hands. However, five were wise because they brought extra oil. Five were foolish because they didn’t. Now, I’m not sure we’re supposed to read meaning into every detail of this parable. The main point is that those who were prepared were admitted into the feast, whereas the other five were not because their lack or preparedness caused them to be absent when the bride and bridegroom finally arrived.
But one thing is clear: our Lord is teaching us that we have to be prepared ourselves. We cannot depend upon the spirituality of others to admit us into God's kingdom. We cannot ride our parents’ coattails into the kingdom of God. We cannot borrow the grace of others; we must have our own. Matthew Henry’s observation is pertinent: “They will see their need of grace hereafter, when it should save them, who will not see their need of grace now, when it should sanctify and rule them.”
Are you prepared? Are you ready for the Lord’s return? If he should appear at this moment in the sky, do you have the oil of grace in your heart or are you lacking? If he should appear at this moment, would you rejoice or would you weep? Would you run to him or would you flee from him? Let us examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5); let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10).
Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world. He is coming back for those who look for him (Heb. 9:28). For them, his return will be an occasion of exhilaration and joy unspeakable and full of glory. For those who are not ready, it will be an occasion of unspeakable horror and despair. Therefore let us put our trust in Christ, who alone is the one from whom and in whom we receive grace for grace (Jn. 1:16-17).