In Matthew 25:1-13 we find Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins, a parable often referenced when talking about end-time events. There seems to be differing views as to who the ten virgins represent, some believe they represent Christians while others believe they represent the bride’s bridesmaids. On the surface the logical conclusion would be that they represent bridesmaids, mainly because there are ten of them as opposed to only one. However, there are a couple things we need to consider that I believe shed more light on the subject.
To begin with, contrary to what some believe, we need to understand that these virgins represent Christians. These virgins, all ten of them, were waiting and expecting the groom to return at some point, at which time they would leave with him. Unbelievers are not waiting, much less expecting, Christ to return for them, and furthermore they do not recognize Him as their Lord. The picture here clearly shows that these virgins are Christians, since only Christians are waiting and expecting Jesus to return, as well as identify Him as Lord. Earlier today I heard a pastor on the radio refer to the five foolish virgins as being unbelievers, but based on what I just shared with you I believe that is an inaccurate interpretation of the text.
At face value it would seem odd, and very inappropriate, for the groom to be returning for more than one bride as this parable appears to indicate. However, I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, in which he describes the body of Christ as one body made up of many members. If many individuals make up the one body of Christ, and if the body of Christ is also the bride of Christ, then it would make sense that Jesus used ten virgins in this parable instead of only one. In the context of what the Apostle Paul wrote in the above passage, then it is very reasonable to view the ten virgins as individual members of the one bride the groom is coming back for. If, as I indicate, the ten virgins represent ten individuals making up the one bride the groom is coming back for, what does it then say of the five who were described as foolish? I’ll touch on that later.
Another thing to consider as we look at who these ten virgins represent is found in Matthew 25:11. In this passage the five foolish virgins attempt to enter in where the bride and groom are, but they are denied entrance. In the days of Jesus and the Apostle Paul, the arrival of the bride to the house of the groom’s father started off a week of festivities that saw friends, family, and wedding guests freely coming and going as they wished. This more than likely included the bridesmaids who were there to attend to the bride. As such, then it would have been very unlikely and inappropriate for the groom to deny his bride’s bridesmaids entrance. I’ve even heard that there have been times when the bridesmaids would be present in the room, available to attend to the bride as she needed, when the groom and his bride consummated their marriage. Again, if this were the case, the bridesmaids would certainly have not been denied entrance in case the bride needed them.
The fact that the five foolish virgins were not only denied entrance, but also told by the groom that he did not know them, makes the case that these were Christians who were once included as the bride of Christ. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus tells us that there will be many who will call Him Lord, after which they will remind Him of their impressive spiritual resume. Jesus tells us that He will tell them, “I never knew you: depart from me, you who practice lawlessness”. In essence, these people called Jesus their Lord, they had done many things in His name, but they apparently were not living in obedience to Jesus as referenced in His comment “you who practice lawlessness”. They were living as unto themselves, or at least as they saw fit instead of submitting to His Lordship in their life. Jesus’ comments to these people are basically the same thing the groom tells the five foolish virgins when they attempted to enter in, “assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you”.
All ten virgins were waiting for the groom to return. All of them at some point fell asleep while waiting. All of them woke up when they heard the midnight cry signaling the imminent return of the groom for them. All of them began to trim their lamps when the midnight cry was sounded. But, only five of them had enough oil to last until the groom returned, and they were then found to be foolish. I do not believe the oil represents the Holy Spirit in this parable, simply because you don’t “buy and sell” the Holy Spirit. I believe the oil in this parable represents how much a life of surrender and sacrifice for Jesus one has “paid”. Jesus tells us in Luke 14:26-33 to count the “cost” of following Him, otherwise we can’t be His disciples. Perhaps these five foolish virgins did not accurately count the “cost” of being the bride, and because of it they were not prepared when the midnight cry went out. Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? Have you been afraid to take a stand for Christ, and not just in words, but also in seeking to honor and please Him with your life no matter who you’re with or where you’re at? Have the priorities in your life, and the choices and decisions you’ve made, represented a life set apart for Jesus and Him alone? If not, now is the time to repent of that to Jesus, and to start putting Him first in every aspect of your life. It does not mean you will be perfect and never sin, but if the attitudes and motivations of your heart seeks to honor Him first and foremost in all your ways, repenting and turning away from sin when you have sinned, then I believe His grace will cover the rest.
The midnight cry is, and has been in recent years, sounding the alarm that our Groom, Jesus, is set to return at any moment. Now is not the time to be playing church. Now is the time to make things right with Him, and to start living your life as unto Him in all your ways. I pray that you will be one of the wise virgins represented in this parable, and not one of the foolish ones. We’re told in Revelation 16:15 that people will see the shame of the foolish ones, those who got left behind because they were not watching for Christ’s return or keeping their garments clean and without spot, wrinkle or blemishes.
Be one of the wise ones!!!!!