In my perspective
When the Disciples went to Jesus privately and asked why He spoke in parables (Mk 4:9-11), He basically says that only those who care to ask questions and hear the answers can understand. So with that in mind –
Let him who has ears, Hear.
On the surface this parable looks like a story about the wise and foolish and their consequences. All were given the same things: an invite to the wedding, a lamp, some oil and a notification of the Bridegrooms entrance. Even the location was given to them (vs 1). The 5 wise prepared by taking an extra jar of oil, but the foolish thought they would be okay. When the Bridegrooms arrival was announced, panic took over the foolish and they left the place to get what they needed, however when they were gone they missed the arrival and the doors were shut to them. The Bridegroom sent them away claiming not to know them.
The encouragement or warning in this parable is to stay alert! Prepare, be caught doing what you were instructed to do, be ready because you do not know when He will come. So be like the wise and keep on top of what you were asked to do.
In my understanding, there is so much more to this parable. Lessons we can learn, meat we can chew on and a message that offers us encouragement.
‘At that time’ (vs 1) – During the Great Tribulation. Here we have Jesus (Bridegroom) who gave everyone an invite to a wedding (The Kingdom of Heaven) which He has warned us is coming and ‘at that time’….
The Church (the virgins) is made up of two components, The Jews (The Foolish) and the Gentiles (The wise). Both were given salvation (The Lamp), The Jew by the birth rite in the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic or Sinaitic Covenant (Ge 15:18-21 and Exodus 19-24); and the Gentiles by their birth rite of salvation by being born again (Jn 3:3,7). Both Jew and Gentile were given access to exactly what they needed for salvation (the lamp and the oil).
Both were taken to the location (25:1) of where the Bridegroom would meet them so they both had equal opportunity. Unfortunately only the Gentile (The wise virgin) prepared by taking oil with extra jars, or rather, by having a relationship with Jesus by being full of the Holy Spirit, and praying and reading the Word. He had ears and heard the call and took note of the warning and instructions and prepared himself.
They both heard the ‘Call’ – perhaps the trumpets sound? Upon hearing this call, the Jews realise they have been wrong and seek help from the Christians who give them instructions.
They trimmed their wicks – a wick in a lantern needs to be trimmed in order to continue to burn the brightest and continue to draw the oil up properly. If the wick is burned and dirty it doesn’t draw the oil a well and as a result will not burn right.
So the analogy of trimming their wicks, correlates to maintenance of our salvation – prayer, forgiveness of sins, obedience, reading the Word, love – this all allows us to be full of the Holy Spirit, where our cup can overflow.
While they were busy trying to make up for their foolishness, and earn their salvation, Jesus comes and takes those that are ready, home. He shuts the door, essentially he separates the sheep from the goats, the foolish virgins are cast out with the wicked regardless of their birth rite – they heard the call but missed the coming – they simply did not do what they were told to do – hence all the confidence they had in their position meant nothing in the end because they did not have a relationship with Jesus (John 14:6 – I am the way, the truth and the light – no one sees the Father but by Me).
· The lamp, which symbolises salvation, also symbolises the Bridegroom, as Jesus is the bridegroom and the Light of the world (Lamp)(Jn 8:12).
· Trimming the wick could be akin to pruning branches (John 15:2) or to defining the Wood, Hay and Stubble (1 Cor 3:12).
· 25:9: There comes a point where division starts. And it is important to know when your responsibility for another person comes to an end – where your help simply cannot make up for another persons foolish decision. This could also be an example of when to say no to other peoples requests, where all we have to offer is a word of advice or direction. We simply have to walk out our own path and be faithful with what we have been given – not with what other people have been given (eg: taking on the role of the Pastor? Filling the shoes of someone’s incompetent parent? Sacrificing our own family for the needs of another family). Knowing when to say no.
· Thinking ahead by taking the extra jar of oil is akin to being ‘Watchful’.
This goes beyond the scope of this study, but bear with me.
I started asking the ‘What, Where, Why and When’ questions which took me to the previous chapter. I found this VERY interesting as a precursor to the parable of the ten virgins. See if you notice the pattern? (I will highlight it at the end of this summary)
1. Where? – The Mount of Olives (24:3) Being 800m above Jerusalem, on the Eastern side, one of three mountains in the Jordean Ranges dividing the desert and Jerusalem.
2. Who? – The Disciples came to Jesus privately to ask questions (24:3)
3. The Questions? – When will it happen and What will be the signs?
· Vs 15-31: What? – The Great Tribulation Jesus explains what is to come
· Vs 32-35: Jesus encourages them to UNDERSTAND His Word because it will stand til the end of time.
· Vs 36: (and vs 44) He highlights that no one will know the hour or the day, it will be sudden and unannounced.
· Vs 40-41: He highlights that there will be division within friendship and family, one will be taken and one will remain.
· Vs 42: He tells them to keep watch (as a side note, Jesus tells the Disciples to ‘keep watch’ regularly. The word comes from the Greek word ‘Agrupneo’ and means ‘To Be Sleepless – to keep awake’ (Mt 25:5; Ro 13:11; 1 Thess 5:6-8) It refers to the Spiritual, not the physical.
· Vs 45: makes a definition of the wise and faithful servant.
· Vs 48: Talks about what happens when the wise servant becomes foolish by doubting his masters word that he will return, and as a result he makes the wrong decisions.
· Vs 51: The foolish will be cast out with the unsaved…. Essentially losing his standing or relationship with his master and made an equal with the unchosen.
Did you notice that in the leading up to the parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus explains every element! What the Kingdom of Heaven will be like in the Great Tribulation and what to watch out for.
He encourages His disciples to understand His Words, as it will always be with them and He explains how no one will know when it is going to happen, but that there will be clear division amongst those that profess to ‘know’ Jesus and who think they are ‘attending’ the wedding feast. He emphasizes that only those who are ready will be at the banqueting table and that it is really important to keep watch – stay alert and read the signs, listen for the call. It is ok to sleep if you are prepared.
So basically, before He tells them the parable, He explains it all to them and then sums it up with the parable. Jesus says things in so many different ways that we are without excuse.