Gospel Words: 10. The Ten Virgins

Matthew 25:1‑13  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
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HERE again we have the mysterious likeness of the kingdom of the heavens while Christ rejected but glorified is hidden on high. Only, as the parable looks onward specially to the future, when the difference between those taught of God and mere professors will be manifested, the word is “Then shall the kingdom of the heavens be made like to ten virgins,” &c. “Then” refers to the execution of judgment on the evil bondman who embodied the collective responsibility of Christendom, as our parable sets out rather the secret of wisdom or the lack of it individually.
“Then shall the kingdom of the heavens be made like to ten virgins, such as, having taken their torches, went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were foolish and five prudent. For the foolish, when they took their torches, took no oil with them; but the prudent took oil in their vessels with their torches. Now while the bridegroom tarried, they all fell heavy and were sleeping. But at midnight a cry is made, Behold, the bridegroom: come ye forth to meet him. Then arose all those virgins and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the prudent, Give us of your oil, for our torches are going out. But the prudent replied, saying, Nay, lest there be not enough for us and you: go rather unto those that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went away to buy, the bridegroom came; and those that were ready went with him unto the marriage feast; and the door was shut. But afterward came also the rest of the virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour” (vers. 1-13).
The ten virgins vividly represent the Christian profession. All took their torches and went forth to meet the Bridegroom Who is coming again. But if anyone have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. The unction of the Holy One is indispensable. The possession of this, symbolized by oil, depends on having faith in Christ and His work. The foolish never knew their ruin; they were content with ordinances and rites and their own heed to them. To be born anew, to receive remission of sins through Christ’s blood, to be sealed with the Spirit, they were strangers: Jews or heathen might want these things; but they had every privilege in their religion, the Christian religion, and had no cause for alarm: such was their self-deception.
Alas! as with Israel so with Christendom, the forgetfulness of God’s work and departure from Him were complete. While waiting for the bridegroom they fell heavy and were sleeping. The true attitude of the Christian was lost; the blessed hope no longer animated any. They ceased to go forth to meet the Bridegroom, and turned in here or there to slumber. Prudent or foolish, all slipped away from the true hope.
But God is faithful, and, when things are darkest, He arouses the sleepers. At midnight is made a cry, Behold the bridegroom. All awake, when even the foolish become uneasy, for they perceive that the prudent have a power which they have not. Torches may burn brightly for a while; but without oil they soon go out. But the believer has the Spirit only for himself; and none can receive that anointing save through God’s grace on the faith of the gospel. Hence the appeal of the foolish to the prudent is vain. They must go to Him who sells on the terms of grace, without money and without price. Sinners must have to do with God. The creature cannot avail. The sinner must face his sins before Him, Who points the lost to the Savior Those who are religious after the flesh hate grace and shrink from God’s presence. They may be zealous; they are willing to do “some great thing” if bidden; but to stand before Him as nothing but guilty ones, and to be saved of divine grace like the worst by a dead and risen Savior, is repulsive to the old man. They may go their way to buy; but this is all we here learn of these self-deceivers.
Meanwhile the bridegroom came; and those that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast. And the door was shut.
Oh, the horror of finding out the truth too late! In vain then to cry, Lord, Lord, open to us! To such as are refusing a like warning and invitation now, His word then will be, Verily, I say to you, I know you not.
My reader, how would the coming of the Savior find you? Those who really long and watch for the Savior have already heard His voice and found in Him redemption, the forgiveness of their sins, through His blood. Hence they are sealed with the Holy Spirit of God unto the day of redemption. They know Whom they have believed, as the Good Shepherd knows such as hear His voice and follow Him. Do not trust in any institution, even of Christ, or any observance of your own, or any class of men however honored, to fit your souls for God’s presence. Nothing but the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses from all sin; but this it does perfectly even now on earth for every believer. And unless you here believe in Him and in the efficacy of His sacrifice for your evil case, flatter not yourselves that He will receive you to Himself or present you to His Father.
But if you are born again and resting on the redemption that is in Christ, you will have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you and strengthening you to render a true witness to Him who is on high and about to return. “This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth.” Your hope will be as real as your faith, and Christ the object of both. You will not doubt His love, but long for His coming to receive you to Himself, having the oil in your vessel, and earnest to call the thirsty, or whoever will, to drink of the water of life freely.