Session #145 High Five Low Five
Scripture Matthew 25:1-13
Summary Many have tried to decipher the Parable of the 10 Virgins, applying different interpretations and attaching different meanings to the elements of this parable. What if that was not Jesus’ intent at all? And it is really much simpler than what we make it out to be? That said, simple does not mean easy. Henson notes five reminders and draws five pertinent implications from five wise and five foolish virgins.
1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but
the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose 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, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:1–13
We have arrived at Matthew 25, the final section of the Olivet Discourse about Kingdom Readiness. Throughout Matthew 24, Jesus’ gracious reminders to His people is repeated five times; that they are to be watchful, alert, ready, prepared, faithful (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44, 50, 25:13).
The Parable of the 5+5 Virgins is not a stand-alone parable but one that concludes Jesus’ key point about the unexpectedness of His return and His reminder for preparedness and readiness.
The Parable of the 5+5 Virgins
In this kingdom parable, the disciples asked about the restoration of the kingdom at the end of the age. Jesus replied, in kingdom terms, that they are to be ready for the return of the King and entrance into the kingdom; represented by the messianic wedding banquet. As with all parables, the setting of a typical Jewish wedding, characters and items are all easily identifiable and understood by the Jews. God’s salvation of humanity through Jesus employs and shares many parallels with the Jewish wedding. In considering the five characters and items (bridegroom, virgins, lamps, oil and the bride) in this parable, we can see that an important principle to interpret and understand this parable – It is not to try to identify each and every character and item. Doing so will get us caught in the details, ending up with more questions than answers, distracting us from the main point. Only one character is certain in the parable – the bridegroom which represents Jesus. The rest are simply there to emphasise all Jesus has been saying four times prior. This parable concludes the point with a fifth mention of the unexpectedness of His coming, and the need to always watch and be ready. The main point of this parable is preparedness and readiness for the unexpectedness of the time of Jesus’ return.
FIVE Key Implications from the Parable of the 5+5 Virgins
Promise of Preparedness and Readiness
Matthew 25:10a gives the promise for those who are prepared and ready. We get to enter the fullness of the kingdom and be part of the messianic banquet!
Predicament of Unpreparedness and Unreadiness
Matthew 25:10b-12 describes the predicament (of consequence) of unpreparedness and unreadiness. Those who are not ready will miss the coming of the King. Just as there is a conditional promise, there is a consequential warning.
Presumptions of Preparedness & Readiness
Be very careful of presumptions of preparedness and readiness. The five foolish virgins presumed that the bridegroom would arrive at a certain time and they had enough oil in their lamps. Presumptions are dangerous. These are due to wrong
doctrines such as once-saved-always-saved, hyper grace; etc. It results in complacency in the believers and lulls many to spiritual slumber. We note that assurance of our salvation is not the same as presumption of our salvation (Philippians 3:12-16, 2 Peter 1:10-11).
Personal Preparedness & Readiness
Preparedness & Readiness is personal and non-transferable (Matthew 25:6-9). We need to have a personal relationship with God, sound doctrines (1 Timothy 4:16), be faithful in our kingdom assignments (Ephesians 2:10), and be watchful and wise to the signs of the times (Ephesians 5:14-17). All 10 virgins slept yet the five wise ones were prepared and ready.
Partners in Preparedness & Readiness (Matthew 25:1-4)
While personally responsible for our own preparedness, we prepare best with like-minded kingdom partners who are awakened, aligned and assigned. If we gatherwith those who are wise, we become wise (Proverbs 13:20).
The Parable of the 5+5 Virgins is not a stand-alone parable. It is the fifth mention of a most important point Jesus was making. No one knows the exact moment of Jesus’ return. Be watchful, alert, prepared, ready, faithful.
In this parable, Jesus is the bridegroom who will return to fetch His bride. All the other items and characters are there to support Jesus’ point. Over-allegorising these can cause us to miss what Jesus wants us to focus on.
These five takeaways are pertinent:
● Be careful of presumptions of preparedness & readiness.
● Preparedness & readiness is a personal matter and responsibility.
● Find kingdom partners who are serious about being prepared & ready.
● Take heed to Jesus’ warning about the predicament of unpreparedness and unreadiness.
● Prepare towards the promise of preparedness and readiness.