The story of the ten virgins has always been one of my favorites Jesus told. I love the symbolism and especially the comparison it makes to our day.
As I've studied the Bible, I've learned how this story teaches important things about when Jesus comes again.
The story goes like this:
The second coming of Jesus was compared to a wedding meal where 10 virgins went out to meet a groom with oil lamps, as was Jewish custom. Five of the women brought extra oil and five did not.
When the cry that the groom was coming came at midnight, it was later than everyone expected and all the lamps had already gone out. Those who had extra oil only had enough for their own lamps, so the unprepared women ran to the sellers of oil to buy more.
While they were gone, the groom came and the five unprepared virgins were left out of the marriage meal. When they asked to be let in, the groom did not open the door to them because he said he did not know them.
This story describes the kind of people we need to be in order to be let into the marriage meal, into Jesus' presence. Here are five things we learn.
1. You are invited
All of the 10 virgins were invited to the wedding meal. All were aware of it and had been given a personal invitation by the couple. They weren't just any guests; they were special guests of the bride, her bridesmaids.
Comparing the story to when Jesus comes again, we see how the bridesmaids are Jesus' followers, are aware of His coming and have been invited to take part in it. This story is specifically for followers of Jesus, for you.
2. You choose
In Jewish tradition, the ten bridesmaids attended the bride in her home as she awaited the groom. But in this story the five unprepared virgins had to leave in order to purchase their oil. They made the choice to leave because they did not bring what was required and could not fulfill what was expected.
In comparison to the coming of Jesus, many people are making the choice to leave Him because they are not bringing what is required. They cannot fulfill what is expected of them. We are required to know Jesus and His teachings so we can choose to do all He asks of us.
3. You are His light
It was the responsibility of the 10 bridesmaids to light the path of the groom to the bride's home. When the call was made that he was on his way, the women were expected to light their lamps. They met him before he entered the home, but only those with extra oil were able to meet him.
Comparing this to the coming of Jesus, we can understand that it is our duty as followers of Him to give light to the world and prepare for Jesus to come. We must seek and find Him in all we do and let our lights shine for Him.
4. You must know Him
The groom did not know the five unprepared bridesmaids because they did not meet him. They had no light to shine. Rather than running out to meet him to prepare his way, they ran to the market instead.
With Jesus' coming, if we do not run to Him and we choose the world instead, we will be left out when He comes. We will have no light to shine, and He will not know us because we did not take the time to meet or learn about Him.
5. You have a second chance
The lamps were lit at dusk, but the groom did not come until midnight. The lamps they used most likely burned for two hours. The Bible says, "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept." If their lamps only burned for two hours, the five unprepared bridesmaids could have had time to make it to the market and back, if they had not slept. They had a second chance to be prepared.
In regards to Jesus' coming, we cannot sleep while we wait for His return. We must constantly be adding oil to our lamps one drop at a time. Everything that is good adds oil to ours lamps and feeds our light. Prayer, Bible study, church, service, love and forgiveness are precious drops of oil we can use to help light the way of Jesus. And if we don't have enough oil now, we still have a second chance to get more before He comes.
There is so much more we can learn from this story as we study it with God's help. We may feel the groom is late in coming, but it is our responsibility to watch and be ready.