Matt. 25:1 “At that time, the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”
We read about ten women who were waiting for the bridegroom to come to the feast. Some of them had prepared and some had not.
What’s in the lamp; is she prepared or not? The oil is the Holy Spirit. Just having a lamp is not enough. We have to have it refilled. Note that I did not say we have to fill it. It is the duty of the Holy Spirit to fill us – but we have to ask.
Matt. 25:6 “At midnight, the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet Him! 7 Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, our lamps are going out.’ 9 ‘No,” they replied, ‘There may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’”
So there is a consequence for not having the lamps ready. At first, this part of the story sounds uncaring and even insulting, how the women sent away those who asked for oil. But it’s important for us to remember that our first duty is to the King, and we have to be responsible to keep our own lamps lit. We have to be diligent in prayer regarding our own spirituality. This part of our spiritual journey is often neglected. How often do we pray for ourselves to keep our own lamps burning?
When the bridegroom (Jesus) comes, those who have oil in their lamps still have to prepare – they have to trim their wicks to make the lights burn brighter. We have to keep our hearts free of soot so that the Holy Spirit can burn within us.
Matt. 25:10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with Him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11 Later, the others also came. “Lord, Lord,’ they said, “Open the door for us!’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly, I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13 Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Much of the story is about the virgins who did not have enough oil and they had to go buy more oil. They were unprepared and had waited too long. Notice that Jesus did not chastise the women who did not share their oil. This is very telling. Each of us is responsible for our own lamp.
Soon, each one of us may be out of oil if we are not careful. Sometimes we can find willing people who will give us some of their oil, to refill us when we need it the most. But as all of us know, there comes a point when we're giving away all that we have. We need to encourage and exhort those around us to keep their lamps full, and to pray for all believers, including ourselves, that we may never run out.
Praying with the Word:. Lord Jesus our blessed Bridegroom, pray for us. Grant us understanding of this great parable. Help us to know what it means to keep our lamps full. Help us to know where to find the oil to keep our light burning and how to prepare our lamps so that they burn most brightly. Most of all, dear Jesus, help us to be ever vigilant and waiting for Your return. We pray this in Your holy Name. Amen.
1. In vv 1-5, we hear about the lamps, and some had oil, but some did not. What do you think the oil represents?
2. The women who had oil (the Holy Spirit) still had to trim the wicks to make their lights burn brighter. What does this mean to you?
3. The foolish women had to leave the banquet to go fill their lamps. They were unprepared. In what ways might you be unprepared if the Lord came right now?
4. Reflect about the fact that we are responsible both to share our gifts, and to make sure we never run out of oil. What does this mean to you regarding your own life?