The Bridal Party: Matthew 25:1-13
““1) Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2) Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3) For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4) but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. 5) Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6) But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7) Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8) The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9) But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10) And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11) Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open up for us.’ 12) But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13) Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭1‬-‭13‬
The story of the Ten Virgins has been stretched and twisted to say many things not taught in the text. The basic point Jesus was stressing was to be ready and fully prepared for His return. Don’t be caught off guard.
The parable was based on a Jewish wedding ceremony during New Testament times. Upon betrothal, the groom would go and prepare a place for His bride. Jesus stressed this in John 14:1-6 which was based on this same Jewish wedding tradition.
Meanwhile, the bride and her wedding party had no idea of the day or hour the groom was coming for his bride. The cry would be shouted down the street, “behold, the bridegroom cometh.” It was often at midnight. Immediately, the bride and her wedding party would arise, gather for the occasion and trim their lamps for the celebration. The procession to the grooms house was lighted by oil lamps. The actual ceremony lasted seven days and then the bride and groom were presented.
The Ten Virgins were the attendants of the bride. Their job was to keep their lamps trimmed and illuminated for the whole wedding march and long ceremony, during which time many guests would come over a seven day period to congratulate the groom. Marriage was a significant event. Those who kept themselves chaste has a major celebration.
Some believe the seven days of the Jewish wedding ceremony are important for an end time analogy of the return of Christ. They see Jesus taking away His bride during the seven years of tribulation on earth. I admit, this is a strong argument in favor of a pre-tribulation view of the rapture. I lament that it is implied and not implicit in any biblical text about the end times.
Note that Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. (John 2:1-11) The problem at that ceremony was the wine gave out. The problem for the five foolish virgins was their oil gave out. Both wine and oil are associated with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Both the head waiter from the grooms party and the five foolish virgins from the bridal party were tragically unprepared.
I would encourage you to be “continually filled” with the Holy Spirit according to Ephesians 5:18. It is significant that this verse is also associated in context to another analogy about marriage and the relationship between Christ and His church. (See Ephesians 5:22-33) Make sure your flask is full.
Because I am not an authority on Jewish tradition, I shun to read too much into this story. But let me emphasize the way Jesus concluded this parable; 12) But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13) Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
Two questions stand out that every person must answer. First, do you know Jesus? Maybe more important, does He know you? Second, are you ready for His imminent return? I find it sad that 1/2 of the close friends of the bride were not prepared. It is equally troubling that the head waiter for the groom was not prepared.
Having Christian parents or friends does not mean you are prepared to meet Jesus. You need to be born-again and not surf on their walk with God. You must settle the issue of your salvation before it is too late!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global