The parable of the 10 virgins speaks of Jesus’ return and what it means to wait patiently yet urgently for this coming day.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 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.”
Wisdom refers to preparation — the duty of the bridesmaids in marriage celebrations was to meet the groom in the night and escort him to the bride’s house with lit torches. The torches were symbols of the glorious splendor of the wedding couple. It was considered a great honor and responsibility to be asked to participate in this way. The five “wise” virgins recognized this; they realized that details matter, preparedness matters, duty matters.
As the church is Jesus’ bride, it is the personal duty of each believer to be prepared for the groom’s arrival. And we each need to be prepared, our faith cannot depend on our parents, our spouse, our friends, etc. It is between each one of us and God.
What does GODLY PREPAREDNESS look like? The consistent and vigilant preparedness commended by Jesus in this parable, when done well, brings us to a Christian paradox: patient urgency.
<< Indifference – Patience – Urgency – Impatience>>
Patience slips into INDIFFERENCE when we stop believing we can hear the voice of God and devalue our creative role as stewards of the things he has gifted us with. It is stagnant and inactive, and involves a lack of faith.
IMPATIENCE results from urgent calls to action that operate out of the assumption that we are the ones to save the world or it is doomed. It is selfish and harmful, and involves a lack of faith.
The wise virgins were not impatient, running over to the groom’s house to speed up the process themselves, but they were not indifferent either. They waited with the right combination of patience and urgency being prepared for the coming groom.
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QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- What does this parable teach us about the character of God? About his kingdom?
- Do you tend to lean more to the impatience or indifference side of the spectrum?
- Why is it a personal duty to prepare for Jesus’ return?