‘At that time the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom…’ (Matthew 25:1-13)
This parable at the beginning of chapter 25 comes after a difficult chapter 24 speaking about the destruction of the Temple and the end of time. In that chapter it could be argued that there are lessons that could be classed as parables in the discourse on the fig tree and the one on the wicked and faithful servant, parables which speak to us of the coming of Jesus Christ as King and our need to be ready and prepared for that. However, we will move on to chapter 25 and this parable which speaks to us of the fate of those who are unprepared.
To the audience of Pharisees and others in authority who may have been listening this parable is directed towards them in rather a blunt way. Quite simply, they were God’s chosen people, they knew that one day He would send His chosen one, the Messiah, their history was steeped in that promise and they should have prepared for that day, ready to embrace it and their Messiah when that day came. Yet they failed to do so and would therefore be shut out from the Kingdom.
As for us today, there are perhaps two main lessons we can take from this. First of all, we need to be prepared to meet our Lord. As we go through life there are some things that we cannot leave until the last minute before we seek to acquire or attain them. We cannot, for example, expect to pass our driving test and obtain our licence if the first time we sit ‘behind the wheel’ is only 30 minutes before the test, nor indeed can we expect to pass any exam if we only first read the course notes 30 minutes before we take the exam. The warning is clear, do not leave it too late to prepare ourselves to meet with the Lord – as it says, we never know when that time will come!
And secondly, we have to make our own preparations and come to know the Lord for ourselves. We cannot depend on our relationships with others who know the Lord – we cannot ‘adopt’ their relationship with Him and think that is enough. We must know the Lord for ourselves, otherwise we risk being shut out like those at the end of this passage.