You are here

24. The Parable of the Ten Virgins

 

Chapter 24

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Matthew 25:1-13

Eric H. H. Chang

November 8, 1981

 

We will continue the teaching of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 25 beginning from verse 1. I should mention that the last verses of Matthew 24 are directly linked to Matthew 25, but owing to the time factor, we shall concentrate on this parable known as the “Parable of the Ten Maidens”, or more accurately, the “Parable of the Ten Virgins.” And we need to ask the question, “What does this parable mean?”

Preoccupy your thinking with spiritual things

By way of introduction to this passage, I would like to read to you from Romans 8:5-6, where the apostle Paul speaks about the contrast between flesh and spirit.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, and those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace.”

“Set the mind” has to do with what you think about; the word is literally “to think.” This word is in verse 5 in the present tense, or the present continuous tense, which means “to be constantly thinking about.” Paul is saying that for those who live according to the flesh, their minds are constantly preoccupied by the things of the flesh, the things of the world. Whereas for those who live according to the Spirit, their minds are constantly preoccupied by the things of the Spirit. This point has to do with our parable as we shall see in a moment. You will see that in our exposition there is a definite sequence of development.

Now it is important to understand what Paul is saying, otherwise you will say, “Paul, this just can’t be done! I cannot be preoccupied with spiritual things all day long because I’ve got my job to do in the lab, or in the office, or I have to study chemistry, or engineering.” The reason why I use the word “preoccupied” is because we can speak about what is in the foreground of your thinking, and what is in the background of your thinking.

It is very easy to illustrate this point. When you are in love, you’ll find that what preoccupies your mind the whole time is of course, your boyfriend or your girlfriend. Very frequently, he or she is in the fore­ground of your thoughts but not always. For example, you still try to get on with your studies, maybe with a lesser degree of success or consist­ency. The point is this: when you are preoccupied with something, that thought or those things are always in the background of your thinking, whatever else may occupy the foreground for the moment. So when you are in love, that person you love is always in the background of your mind, even though you may be peering down the microscope at that particular moment, or doing a particular experiment. That thing you are doing, that study you are engaged in is in the foreground, but the one you love is in the background all the time. That is what we mean by the word “preoccupied”. And not only is being preoccupied possible, it is in fact, very much the case.

This is what Paul is saying. The spiritual man may be doing his engineering, or his law, or his accountancy, or his economics, or whatever it is he is doing, but what is always forming the backdrop of his thinking, no matter what is at the front of the stage at the moment, the whole setting of his thoughts is always spiritual things. This means that even when he is doing something, his motivation and the thought that govern his mind are the spiritual preoccupations. I find this is very important for me to explain to you otherwise you will think, “I simply cannot have two things in my mind at the same time.” Of course, you cannot have two things in the foreground of your mind at the same time. Your mind cannot focus on two different objects at the same time. Therefore it is important to understand what Paul is saying in Romans 8, that for the spiritual man, his mind is constantly preoccupied with spiritual value, spiritual quality. It forms the undercurrent or the background of his thinking at all times, no matter what may occupy the foreground of his thoughts for the moment.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins refers to the Judgment

With that point in mind, let us move to the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25. You will find that the exposition that we will go forth on owes nothing to current commentaries and the like. I mention it simply because when you look at commentaries, you may be immediately struck by the difference of this exposition. But I would like you to check every detail and see how accurate the exposition is.

In this Parable of the Ten Maidens (more accurately, the Ten Virgins), first, there is the word “then” in Matthew 25:1, “Then the kingdom of heaven.” This “then” is a time reference. When does it refer to? It refers to the previous verses. That is why I said it has a very close connection between what goes before, and we shall return to that at some other point. What is the “then”? The “then” refers to Matthew 24:50-51:

“The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him and will put him with all the hypocrites. There, men will weep and gnash their teeth.”

So the “then” means at the time of that Judgment. At Judgment, where do the hypocrites go? From Matthew 24 we know that the hypocrites are sentenced to gehenna, to hell.

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For 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, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you. Go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.” And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast and the door was shut. Afterwards the other virgins came up also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Now here is a parable, a story that the Lord Jesus told to illustrate spiritual truth. I think every Sunday School child knows this parable pretty well, especially if they have been in Sunday School for a long time. The problem is to know what the parable is saying.

Notice that the parable has to do with something in the future, as we already noticed that it has to do with the time of the Judgment. The future tense is there as well: “The kingdom of God shall be compared to ten virgins.”

A virgin is a picture of a Christian

What are “virgins”? What do they represent in the Bible? “Virgins” is a picture of Christians. We find in 2 Corinthians 11:2 that Paul speaks of the Corinthian Church as “I will present you as a pure virgin to her one husband.” The Revised Standard Version (RSV) has the translation, “bride”, which is somewhat incorrect. The word is the same word as in Matthew 25:1, translated as “maiden” in the RSV for some reason or other, because literally, they are “virgins”. Then in Revelation 14:4, the 144,000 true Christians are described as “virgins”. So it is very easy to understand “virgin” once you know the general picture of Scripture. It is a picture of every Christian. We have ten virgins, so all these ten are Christians in Biblical definition. There is no way to say that five were not Christians and five were.

They all had lamps (or torches), and all their lamps had oil and were shining. The important difference lies in the fact that five of them, the wise ones, took flasks of extra oil with them, and five foolish ones did not. They were prepared to go to the extra cost because extra oil means extra cost; and extra burden because they ended up with one hand carrying the lamp and the other hand carrying the extra flask of oil. The foolish ones had one hand that is free to do whatever they liked, because they thought carrying extra oil was completely unnecessary. It was works of super-arrogation.

How often, Christians think of a thing which other Christians think is unnecessary, too extreme, going too far, not moderate enough. You have oil and you have a lamp. What else do you need? Why do you have to carry this extra flask around with you, giving yourself all the extra burden, inconvenience and expense? How many times has that thought, “Is it necessary?” crossed your mind when you see others take one step further than you have? Here, we begin to see whether it is necessary or not. The five wise ones have taken extra precaution.

The Lord Jesus may delay his coming

The other thing to notice in verse 5 is that the bridegroom was delayed. Presumably, if the bridegroom were not delayed, the oil would have lasted even for the foolish ones. But they made no allowance for the delay. It is very interesting that the Lord Jesus is indicating here that there might be a delay in his coming. This word “delay” is also mentioned in the previous section in Matthew 24:48, “My master is delayed.” So again, the Lord Jesus hints that his coming might be delayed. But at midnight, the cry goes forth that the bridegroom has come.

“Sleep” means literal death

But before that, notice the fact that all ten of the virgins grew drowsy. It is translated as “slumbered and slept.” In fact, the words are much more descriptive in the original. The word translated as “slumber” literally means to nod. When you see people falling off to sleep on the bus or train, they keep nodding their heads. That is literally the word. They were nodding, that is, in the stage of pre-sleep, just before you go into full sleep. So they started nodding, as some people do sometimes in Bible studies. Suddenly, they become very much in agreement with you. Before, they were shaking their heads, and gradually, they were beginning to nod. A very encouraging development! Having nodded, they fall asleep. Now notice that all ten of them fall asleep.

Consider what we were studying earlier, the Lord Jesus spoke about wakefulness, and the need to be awake for spiritual survival! And what happens to these ten? They all fall asleep! Now if all fall asleep, how can five of them still be called “wise”? We have a problem here since they seem to be guilty of the very thing that the Lord Jesus warns that we should not do, namely not to fall asleep. For those who are in darkness fall asleep, but those in the daytime stay awake! How can they still be wise? We should have the parable of ten foolish virgins, not five wise and five foolish, if that is what is meant!

So the question we have to ask here is, what does this “sleep” mean? How can you still survive if you fall asleep with those who are in the night? The result here is very important to grasp. “Sleep” here, can only mean one of two things, and we must look at both these possibilities. Either “sleep” here is the opposite of spiritual wakefulness, in which case all ten are foolish, or else “sleep” here literally means death. These are the two basic meanings of “sleep” in the New Testament. And when you study the passage, you come to the clear conclusion that sleep here is death. All ten of them died. That is the point. They all died, just as Christians have died through the last 2,000 years. They were hoping the Lord Jesus would come in their lifetime, but he did not. As his coming was delayed, they were no longer physically alive at his coming.

Parallels between this parable and 1 Thess. 4:13-18

How can we justify this exposition quite apart from the fact that, if this “sleep” here were spiritual sleep, then none of them would be wise? No one had the right to be called wise in Biblical definition because all were unfaithful. But quite apart from that, if you study 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, you will see the parallels between that and this parable become very striking, even down to the word:

“But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep that you may not grieve as others who do not have hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command with the archangel’s call and with the sound of the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1. “sleep”: death

Here, the word “sleep” means death. Paul is saying to the Thessalonian Christians, “I don’t want you to grieve for our brothers and sisters who have died, as those who don’t have any hope.”

2. “a cry”: the archangel’s voice

Let us observe also “a cry of command” in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, i.e., the archangel’s call. The ten virgins have fallen asleep and in Matthew 25:6, “at midnight there was a cry,” the voice of the archangel. Do you see that it is this cry that wakes them up?

3. “meet”: meet the Lord Jesus at Judgment

Again, the word “meet” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “meet the Lord in the air” is precisely the idea in Matthew 25:6, “Come out to meet him (the bridegroom)!”

4. “Rise”: being resurrected

Notice the word “rise” in “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16), is exactly the word in this parable (Mt. 25:7), “the virgins rose.” This word “rise” is very interesting in the Bible. It is often used in this double sense, of literally rising up, or of being resurrected. So, exactly as you have it in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, they are resurrected when they hear the cry of the archangel, and they go to meet the Lord Jesus.

It is almost as though Paul is deliberately referring to this Parable of the Ten Virgins in 1 Thessalonians 4, because there is a word-for-word comparison. And Paul speaks of “the word of the Lord” in 1Thessalon­ians 4:15, so which “word of the Lord” is he speaking about? It is this parable, which is in fact, the only place where the Lord Jesus speaks about “the dead in Christ will rise first.” Therefore, we immediately see a very striking parallel between the two.

This parable is speaking in physical terms, the wise and the foolish have both died physically. Once we realize this, we are going to avoid a lot of confusion in understanding this parable. But in Matthew 24:45-51, the wise, faithful servants and the wicked, unfaithful servants are both alive when the master comes. This parable has to do with Christians who have died at the time of the Lord Jesus’ coming, and it is the cry of the archangel that wakes them up. So it is not a spiritual waking up, because the cry is not going to wake them spiritually. When do they wake up? They don’t wake up before the coming of the Lord Jesus, but at the com­ing of the Lord Jesus, which makes it clearer that the reference is to physical death. And they all “rose” literally, using the word “rise”. This is very significant. Once we see all of these things, the parable begins to fall into place in all its meaning, and we can begin to expound it accurately.

Have extra oil to be ready for the Judgment!

Now the key idea is to be ready in Matthew 25:13, “Watch therefore, for you don’t know the day, or the hour” of the bridegroom’s coming. How do you watch? You cannot watch when you are asleep, but you can watch by being ready. Notice in verse 10, that only those who were ready were allowed to enter into the wedding feast: “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast.” How were they ready? They couldn’t be ready by staying awake and not die physically, but they were ready because they had extra oil.

Objections to “oil” referring to the Holy Spirit

What then is this extra oil if we are to understand this message? Now many commentators have gone right off the track at this point, if I may say so, by the presupposition that the oil refers to the Holy Spirit. There is a danger when you study books that tell you about the symbols of the Holy Spirit, because you become very unguarded, and begin to simply assume that the oil here refers to the Holy Spirit. I have to indicate to you that this understanding is wrong. Our brother, Watchman Nee bases his entire exposition of this parable on this quite mistaken presupposition that the oil refers to the Holy Spirit, and therefore his whole exposition of the parable is completely out of focus. Why does the oil here not refer to the Holy Spirit? I will point out the reasons.

1. The Holy Spirit is never symbolized by oil used in a lamp

First of all, if you work very accurately and very carefully in the New Testament, you will see that if there is any reference in the symbol of oil to the Holy Spirit, it is never the oil that is used in a lamp, but it always refers to the anointing oil. There is where our brother, Watchman Nee, following other western commentators was completely misled. I am sure it is not his own original work.

If there is any reference to the Holy Spirit, there is a possible reference in 1 John 2:27, where the Holy Spirit is spoken of as that “anointing”. But that anointing refers to the anointing oil. It is a specially-compounded, fragrant oil used for anointing purposes, not oil that goes into a lamp.

Hebrews 1:9 speaks of the Lord Jesus as “anointed with the oil of gladness”, but it is much less certain that this refers to the Holy Spirit. If it refers to the Holy Spirit, it is still the anointing oil. It has nothing to do with oil put into a lamp. That is the first point.

2. The virgins’ lamps, not the virgins are filled with oil

The second point is that it is not the virgins who are filled with oil; it is their lamps that are filled with oil. So, to talk about the symbolic filling of the Holy Spirit by means of this oil, is to completely miss the imagery of the parable.

3. It is oil in an extra vessel

Thirdly, it is oil in an extra vessel, and God’s holy Spirit does not fill an extra vessel that we can carry along. It makes no sense whatever to apply the imagery of the Holy Spirit into the oil filling an extra flask. So we must simply realize that it has nothing to do with the filling of the Holy Spirit.

What then is this oil? Let us look at the picture again. All the ten virgins have fallen asleep. At the coming of the bridegroom, the herald calls out and says, “Behold! The bridegroom has come! Rise to meet him.” So all of them rise up, trim their lamps, that is, they cut off the burnt part of the wick, prepare themselves for one last time, and go forth to meet him.

Now the lamp, or torch, is basically a pole with a copper or metal dish, containing a piece of cloth or a piece of rope to serve as the wick. When you light that oil-soaked rope or rag, it begins to burn. When the wick is burned a lot, the burnt, black part will dim the light. So you trim or cut off that burnt part of the rope or rag, so that the unburned wick can soak up more oil and burn more brightly.

When the foolish virgins trim their wicks, they begin to realize they are running out of oil. Notice carefully, they have not yet run out of oil, but they are running out at that particular time. The exact grammatical structure of those words are important. Their lamps had been burning while they had not fallen asleep, and were still burning while they have fallen asleep. Now when they wake up at the call of the herald, they want to make their lamps burn brighter, but they realize that they are almost out of oil, as they look into the dish. Now all this is very essential for understanding the message of this parable.

The burning lamp symbolizes salvation and God’s Word

The ten virgins represent Christians who have died, and their lights have been shining, that is, granted that their lights were shining during their earthly sojourn. Now let us talk about these ten virgins as you and as me. If you are a Christian, you and I are represented by these ten virgins, and we have lighted our lamps. The Lord Jesus says in Matthew 5:15, no man lights a lamp and puts it under a bed, or puts it where it cannot be seen. No, if you light the lamp, that light should shine.

In the Bible, the shining lamp symbolizes salvation. Isaiah 62:1 speaks of the lamp of salvation which is burning, and the salvation of Israel is compared to a lamp kindled and burning. So, salvation is symbolized by a burning lamp, or a burning torch.

In Psalm 119:105, God’s Word is compared to a shining lamp. In Proverbs 6:23, God’s commands and God’s teaching is compared to a lamp. How does salvation come? It comes through faith, which comes by hearing of the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). The Word of God and salvation are inseparable, and both are symbolized by this lamp that is shining.

Take another example, Proverbs 13:9, which reads:

“The light of the righteous rejoices (i.e., shines brightly), but the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”

Life itself is compared to a lamp, and a person’s physical lamp goes out when he dies. So Proverbs 13:9 speaks almost exactly of this parable, where salvation, symbolized by this lighted lamp, burns brightly in the lives of righteous people, of true Christians. But the shining lamp of salvation will be put out in the lives of the wicked. Notice the exactness of these words, “will be put out” in reference to the lamps, or lives of the foolish virgins in the parable.

Once we begin to see all these details, we are now in a position to understand more fully what this parable is saying. As Christians, you and I have this torch of salvation that has been lit, and it is burning through this lifetime. And by the grace of God, it will continue to burn until we die, if the Lord Jesus’ coming is delayed. And then at the Judgment, when the Lord Jesus comes, there will be the shout of the archangel which will wake you and me up. And as Paul says, we will rise up—you and I will be resurrected—to meet Christ Jesus on that very crucial Day when he comes, and we must all stand before his judgment seat. The Judgment is implied in this parable, not stated. It will be stated further on in Matthew Chapter 25.

And what will happen? You and I are going to trim the lamps of our salvation and make them bright again, to get ready to meet the Lord Jesus. Then some are going to discover that their light is going out because there is not enough oil. What will be that dreadful situation on that Day, when you are actually raised up as a Christian to meet the Lord Jesus, and when you are just about to go forth to meet him, you discover, “Oh dear, I don’t have enough oil”! And so, you will say to the neighbor, “Give me some of your oil.” But that something cannot be given, even if you want to give it. What is it?

Spiritual Christians prepare well to meet Christ at Judgment

Look again. The wise virgins have stored up something extra not for use at this present time, but for use in the time to come.

What does “the sons of this world are wiser in their generation than the sons of light” in Luke 16:8 mean? You see, “the sons of the world,” that is, the non-Christians, are wiser in that they make better preparation for their future than “the sons of light,” that is, the Christians who have the lights of salvation! The non-Christians are wiser in that they save up money for their retirement; they save up money for their children’s education; they make all these preparations to ensure that their lives in this present time are well-cushioned.

What about the Christians? Christians for the most part, are only making sure of the present. They make very poor preparation for the future. You see, the foolish virgins were content that their lights were burning at this present time. They never worried about what will happen if the Lord Jesus’ coming is delayed, and their oil is not sufficient. Their provision of oil was sufficient for this present age, when they were still alive here in this present world, but it was not sufficient for the age to come. That is the point of this parable if you can grasp it clearly.

The wise virgins made preparation for the coming age. They made good preparation for the future. The foolish ones did not prepare for the future. They were satisfied. So long as I am a fairly good Christian now, so long as my life is shining quite well now, so long as I go to church now, everything is now. They are living for this age. They have not yet learned to live for the age to come. Have you learned to live for the age to come?

This is what we mean by spiritual-minded and carnal-minded. Then you begin to see what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:5-6. The spiritual-minded person knows that the age to come is a reality because of his faith. The age to come is a reality! But the carnal Christian is interested only in this present age. For him, the age to come is very remote. It is not very realistic. There is where your faith begins to show. Do you have a future? Or is death the end of your future?

Many Christians don’t think much beyond death. They leave all that to God. “Hopefully, God will take me to heaven, wherever that is, and then I will be okay. As for me, I will just make sure of now. It is good to be a Christian now because it is good for morals. It is good to send my children to Sunday School so that they grow up to be nice people. And it is good to be a Christian, because all those people in the church are very nice, and I know that if I get into difficulties, they will stand by me. So hopefully, I will also stand by them in this present age.” All our thinking is centered around this present time. The future beyond this present existence, the future when we rise again from the dead, when we enter into eternity, is not very much in the fore thoughts of most Christians. I doubt that many Christians think much about that. Do you think much about it? I don’t think so. If you are an average Christian, you don’t think much about that. Everything is here and now. We are so-called “realistic Christians.” Let us put it another way, we are worldly Christians.

We make very little preparation for the future. Do you store up extra oil for eternity? When we are talking about sleep and rising again, we are talking about the age to come, about eternity. What have you got in store then? Will you have anything left on that Day? Or have you just lived “a decent Christian life” at this present time?

Not optional to store works for the age to come

The Lord Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth but store up treasure in heaven,” that is, for the age to come. How important is it to store up? We think that is optional. We don’t need to store up anything now; let us just live for this present age. So what happens? You are going to be very badly prepared. Only the wise were ready but the foolish were not ready. There, we can see the carnal mind and the spiritual mind.

The spiritual-minded person lives in terms of eternity. He is thinking in terms of a future. He has eternal life. But most “Christians” don’t seem to have a future. At least for them, the future is uncertain or vague. As we are told by these philosophers, now is the only time we have got. Live for today, tomorrow may never come. Most “Christians” are not sure they have a future. But the spiritual man not only knows he has a future, he is prepared for that future. There is the difference of a spiritual man. How important is it to “store treasure in heaven,” to use the Lord’s phrase, depends on how spiritual you are, whether you know you have a future or not. That is the vital thing to grasp very clearly.

Put in another way, the Bible says that when the Christians die, their works do follow them. Just like this extra oil, it was not for use at their present time. The wise virgins did not need it. There was enough oil in their lamps, but that extra oil was for use when they woke up when the Lord Jesus came. They had the extra oil ready. Oh, that is vital to grasp!

Now the message of this parable becomes unique. It is unique in the sense that it answers questions that were not answered before in the rest of the Lord Jesus’ teaching. It is not just another parable to say be careful and watchful. It is giving us precise and clear instruction that the only ones who made it into the wedding feast were the ones who had made provision for the age to come. What provision have you got for the age to come I wonder? Have you got something ready for the age to come?

What is your spiritual bank account like on the other side when you get there? If you want to change the imagery, what works will follow you when you go across the border into the kingdom of heaven? And is it important to have an account over there? If your citizenship is in heaven as Paul says, have you got an account over there? Or is it that when you get there you are going to be bankrupt?

Many Christians think, “It’s not so bad if I can go into the kingdom of God penniless, so long as I get there.” The Lord Jesus knows that most people are quite content to get into the kingdom of God, even if they are penniless when they get there. The point here is that he is telling us we will not even enter without the extra oil! You will not enter without the extra oil. You will not enter, if you have so lived your life in this present age, without making provision for the age to come. It is another way of saying that you must be a spiritual Christian to be saved at the end. It’s not going to be sufficient to be a carnal Christian. You cannot bluff God. So, you will begin to see the power of this point that the Lord Jesus is making. It is a point that truly challenges us very deeply and very mightily.

A picture representation of

(1) Matthew 7:21-23

Now let us look a little bit further in this parable. The foolish virgins find that they are running out of oil. Their lamps were burning, up to this point. It was so far so good. But from this point on, their lamps were going to go out! What a dreadful tragedy it is, that you manage to keep your salvation going, until the time of the resurrection of all things, and then only at that particular point, to realize that you did not have the kind of faith, that would see you through into the kingdom of God! How near and yet how far!

What does it say further in this parable? We see that when the foolish virgins woke up, they found that they were out of oil, so they had to go and buy some oil at the last minute. And what happens as they went? The bridegroom arrives, and they are not there to meet him! As a result, when they come to the banquet hall, they find that the doors are shut!

And what happens is that these five foolish virgins are standing outside, banging on the door, and what do they say in verse 11? “Lord, Lord, open to us!” Notice the term, “Lord, Lord.” Even at this desperate, unhappy moment, they are still calling him “Lord”. A non-Christian does not call Jesus “Lord”. They tried to enter, but they could not get in. It was too late!

Notice the Lord Jesus’ frightening reply in verse 12: “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” It is a statement of non-recognition. You have not made it into the banquet, into the kingdom! The banquet is often a picture of the kingdom. It is very similar to Matthew 7:23, where the Lord said, “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

(2) of Luke 13:23-29

It is also very similar to another passage, Luke 13:23-29, and let us read it that you may see the similarity.

“And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door for many I tell you will seek to enter and not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door saying, “Lord, open to us” and he will answer you, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “But we ate and drank in your presence and you taught in our streets.” But he will say, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity. There you will weep and gnash your teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out! And men will come from the east and west and from north and south and sit at table in the kingdom of God.”

Now you can see the Parable of the Ten Virgins is almost exactly a picture representation of what is being said here in Luke. The Lord Jesus is saying, “Strive to prepare for eternity now in your life-time. Don’t try to enter after the door is shut. You will not get in because it is too late. You will weep and gnash your teeth when you see that you have been thrust out.”

Just enough is simply not enough!

Therefore, let us come to the conclusion of the whole matter as we close. The Lord Jesus is warning us: Don’t say to yourselves that you are a Christian today, and that is the end of the matter. I have many times tried to point out that in Biblical teaching, and using theological language, justification cannot be separated from sanctification. That is to say, to be saved cannot be separated from the way you think, and the way you live, and the way you are.

You may live a Christian life that looks quite acceptable. You could not have told the difference between the ten virgins. They all carried burning lamps, and they were all virgins. The decisive moment arrived at the time when Christ Jesus came, at the call of the archangel, and they also rose. As the apostle Paul says, we shall all, including himself, stand before the judgment seat of Christ. At that moment, they could not face up to the Judgment. There is where their faith proved inadequate. The oil in their lamps ran out at the crucial moment. You will remember that they had all been burning so far up to this point, but they could not make it at the last stretch. They had not taken extra oil. They had stored up nothing for the age to come. They had no credit in the age to come.

Therefore the Lord Jesus is saying, “I’m saying to you that it is not only a good idea to store up treasure in heaven, it is essential for you to store up,” to use that imagery. It is essential that you so live your life today with eternity in mind, because it will come to the test on that Day, whether you live with eternity in mind or not.

The five foolish virgins had not lived with eternity in mind. They had lived a Christianity which was just enough to see them through this world. Just enough is simply not enough! That is the point you have to grasp. Whether you are working at a job, or doing your studies, you must live your life with the goal of eternity in view. Can you grasp the message? The point will become even more fully explained as we proceed into the next parables.

But suffice for today, to ask yourself this question: Do you so live your life today, with the spiritual consideration of eternity in view? There is the test of whether you have faith, whether you believe God is the living God or not. Whatever you may say with your mouth, the way you live will show whether you live as one who believes that the eternal God is the living God, who has given us a future for which we are preparing right now. And we transfer all our possessions, all our labors into that world to come, so that on that Day, we may have this extra oil that we need, by the grace of God.

 

(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church