The Wise and Foolish Virgins
THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS
Introduction: Discuss the contextual background. Mt. 23 ends with a lamentation over Jerusalem; Mt. 25 contains three parables that have as a point of reference the Second Coming of Christ. Mt. 24 is a “bridge” between those subjects, verse 36 being the transitional verse from one subject to the other. As is clear from Mt. 24:3, this section was addressed to the disciples.
I. Specific Background of the Parable
A. Going forth to meet the bridegroom.
1. The weddings of Jesus’ day were customarily held at night.
2. The bridegroom, accompanied by his friends, sometimes called “the children of the bride chamber” (Mt. 9:15), sometimes “the friends of the bridegroom” (John 3:29), went to the house of the bride.
3. With great pomp and gladness, the procession would then go to his home or other suitable place large enough for the occasion.
4. Accompanying the bride would be her companions, while other friends (such as the “virgins” of the parable) would join along the route.
B. The Lamps.
1. Necessary for being able to accompany the wedding party to the feast.
2. Here is where a division is made in the “virgins.” (v. 2)
a. Five were termed wise: they took oil in their lamps and in their vessels (v. 4).
b. Five were termed foolish: they took no oil with them (v. 3)
C. “While the bridegroom tarried...”
1. Delays were frequent in weddings.
2. Note: as the parable clearly indicates, the coming of the bridegroom represents the Second Coming of the Lord.
3. Compare Mt. 24:42-51, esp. v. 48, “My Lord delayeth his coming”.
4. “We may number this among the many hints that the time of the Lord’s return might possibly be delayed very far beyond the expectations of his first disciples... had He said plainly that many centuries should elapse before His return, then the earliest ages of the church would have been placed at a manifest disadvantage, being deprived of that powerful motive to holiness and diligence which each generation finds in the possibility of his return in their time. It is not that He desires each succeeding generation to believe that in their day He will certainly return; for He does not desire our faith and our practice to be founded on a mistake, as then the faith and practice of all generations save the last would be. But it is a necessary element of the doctrine concerning the second coming of Christ, that it should be possible at any time, that none should regard it improbable in theirs.” (Trench, Notes on the Parables, p.257).
II. Why Were the Five Called “Foolish”?
A. Notice reasons they were not called foolish.
1. Not because they were overtly wicked.
2. Not because they were mean or cruel.
3. Not because they were immoral.
4. They were not unbelievers, f or the unbeliever makes no preparation.
5. They were not apostates, for they leave the post and go about their business.
B. The one reason:
1. They were unprepared.
2. They neglected the opportunities to be ready!
3. Compare the two builders of Mt. 7:24-27.
a. Both had the same opportunities.
b. The one was wise because he heard and acted upon the words of Jesus!
c. The other was foolish because he was a hearer only, and not a doer! (compare James 1:22).
4. “They make the preparation which their own indolence allows...Knowing that there is a risk of being lost.... All who allow themselves any questionable indulgences; all who neglect any of the ordinances of God; and all who are indifferent about soundness in the faith as it is in Christ, belong to this class.” (McGarvey, Commentary on Matthew and Mark, p.216).
C. The sadness of the parable is seen when we realize that, though they had waited for a time for the bridegroom’s appearance, they missed his arrival due to their lack of preparation!
1. “They that were ready went in with him...” (v. 10)
2. They entered into the feast, enjoying the warmth, the friendship, and the happiness.
D. “...and the door was shut.” (v. 10)
1. The closed door was security for those within.
2. But the closed door spelled misery for those without.
3. When later they arrived and were pleading for admission, it was too late!
a. “I know you not.” (v. 12)
b. What a frightful, final, and fatal expression from the bridegroom!
Conclusion: The primary application is to encourage the disciples, Christians, to be ever faithful; never to “grow weary in well- doing;” and to impress the lesson, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (v. 13)
Let us learn:
(1) The sudden and unexpected nature of the Lord’s return.
(2) The delay of His coming.
(3) The attendant blessings and punishments to be meted out upon His return.
(4) The need for personal preparation and readiness as await the return of our Lord.
Are you prepared to meet God, to welcome the return of the Son? Rev. 22:20, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”