Reading Time: 6 Minutes
Today’s article is the second parable that Jesus told concerning his return to earth. Imagine being seated around Jesus on the Mount of Olives, listening him relate this parable.
He said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise” (Matthew 25.1-2).
The role of the bridesmaids was to dance with the bridegroom on the way to his home for a dinner celebration. Their lamps were made with rags wrapped around a pole. The rags were soaked in oil and would burn for approximately 15 minutes before they needed to be soaked again in the oil.
All of the bridesmaids were to bring a jar of oil to make sure their torches didn’t go out. One author has noted that to have one of these torches without a jar of oil is like having a flashlight without batteries.
As we return to the parable Jesus said, “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, all of them became drowsy and slept” (Matthew 25.3-5).
In the previous parable, the master delayed his coming (Matthew 24.45-51). In this parable, the bridegroom has also been delayed. The result is that all of the bridesmaids fell asleep while they waited for his arrival.
Jesus said this about the arrival of the bridegroom, “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.
“The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
“But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.'” (Matthew 25.6-9).
The wise bridesmaids were indeed very wise. To share their oil with the other five would be like attempting to operate a two-battery flashlight with only one.
Next, Jesus described what happened to the foolish bridesmaids. He said, “And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.
“Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25.10-13).
A Familiar Message
What Jesus said to his followers on the Mount of Olives is a key message that he also gave near the end of the Sermon on the Mount.
The Sermon on the Mount is dense with rich spiritual knowledge. However Jesus saved two gems of truth as his closing thoughts on that day.
In his famous sermon Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’” (Matthew 7.21-23).
His very last thought and one to be remembered is this: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.
“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!” (Matthew 7.24-27)
Jesus said, “I do not know you,” to the foolish bridesmaids who did not prepare in advance for his coming (Matthew 25.12).
Jesus said, “I never knew you,” about people whom he called evildoers (Matthew 7.23). The evildoers are contrasted with people who did the will of the Father in the Sermon on the Mount.
The wise builder who built his house on the rock knew and did the will of of God. The foolish man, like the foolish bridesmaids, heard the instructions but did nothing about them.
Both at the beginning of his ministry on a mountain in Galilee and near the end of his ministry on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave the same message. His followers are to know and do his will.
The wise bridesmaids picture an important spiritual truth. Spiritual preparation is not something that can be given to you by someone else. No one can know and do God’s will on your behalf.
It is up to you to respond to the three very clear warnings that Jesus has given to us.
Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us a very clear warning about being prepared for your coming to earth. You have shown us and taught us how to live. Please help us to align our lives with your will.