The Scriptorium

The Wise Virgins

We all have a stewardship, and we must be ready to give an account. Matthew 25.1-10

Matthew 25: Wise and Foolish (1)

Pray Psalm 143.1, 2.
Hear my prayer, O LORD,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.

Sing Psalm 143.1, 2.
(Divinum Mysterium: Of the Father’s Love Begotten)
Hear my earnest prayer, O Lord!  Give ear to my pleas for grace!
In Your faithfulness and righteousness, look upon me with Your face!
Enter not to judgment with Your servant, Lord, with Your loving servant, Lord:
None can stand before Your Word.

Read and meditate on Matthew 25.1-10.

1. Who were the wise and who were the foolish virgins?

2. What does it mean that the wise virgins were “ready”?

This is a strange but beautiful parable, and it introduces a chapter in which Jesus urges those who hear Him to choose the wise rather than the foolish course in life. He will illustrate what He means throughout the rest of the chapter.

It will strike us strange that ten virgins are preparing to meet the bridegroom (v. 1). Do they all intend to have him as their husband? To be his wife? Yes, they do; and immediately we realize Jesus is not talking about human marriage. He has a larger wedding feast in mind, that which is coming as described in Revelation 19, when the Son of Man will welcome His bride as an uncountable multitude from every nation, tribe, and tongue, to join Him in the eternal feast of the Lamb.

In the parable, the groom arrives at an unexpected hour (v. 6), just as Jesus said in chapter 24 that He would come when no one was looking for Him. The oil in the virgins’ lamps is a symbol of readiness. The wise virgins are described as having their lamps filled with oil, so that they would have the light they will need when the groom arrives. When he finally did, the wise virgins were ready; they trimmed their lamps and hurried to meet him (vv. 7-10).

Believers must maintain a state of readiness for the return of the Lord. Here that state is compared to having one’s lamp trimmed with sufficient oil to keep it from going out before the Lord returns. We are lights in the darkness, and we must make sure our lamps are perpetually burning with good works of love and good words of truth. Strive for consistency and continuity, so that, in whatever you are doing, the light of Christ is evident in some way. Build up your reserves of faith – praise, thanks, prayer, meditation on the Lord and His Word, recognition and celebration of His Presence and glory in all things, joyful anticipation of His soon return, the filling of His Spirit – so that nothing can extinguish your light.

The question might be asked: Why didn’t the wise virgins share oil with the unwise? To spend too much effort on this distracts us from the point of the parable: Each of us has a stewardship for which we are ultimately going to give an account. The wise virgins knew that, if they shared with the unwise, none of them would have enough oil for their lamps. They had fulfilled their stewardships; the unwise virgins would have to look elsewhere for oil.

Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit are the defining radiance of the Kingdom, and of the coming King. Make sure these are always lit and glowing in you; and build up your reserves against any situation that might diminish your light, so that when the King returns to gather His own, you will be ready.

1. To what does the oil in this parable refer?

2. What do the lamps and their light represent?

3. What must we do to make sure we are ready when the Lord returns?

Towards the close of the former chapter, our Lord specially required steward to be wise, (Matthew 24:45) for it is reasonable, that the heavier the charge which any man sustains, and the more important the matters in which he is employed, the wisdom with which he conducts himself should be the greater. But now he demands wisdom from all the children of God in general, that they may not, through inconsiderate rashness, expose themselves to be the prey of Satan. Now this kind of wisdom he describes by saying, that they are to provide themselves with the supplies necessary for completing the course of their life.
John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Matthew 25.2

Lord, help me to be ready today, so that my light will shine as I…

Pray Psalm 143.3-12.
Meditate on the Lord and His works, then call on Him to refresh your soul, teach you His will, and prepare you for the day ahead.

Sing Psalm 143.3-12.
Psalm 143.3-12 (Divinum Mysterium: Of the Father’s Love Begotten)
See, the enemy pursued my soul; he has crushed and cast me down.
He has made me sit in darkness, Lord, like those dead and in the ground.
Thus my spirit faints within me, Lord, faints within my weary soul,
and my heart is no more whole.

I recall the days of old; on Your works I meditate –
all the wonders of Your mighty hand, works both small, O Lord, and great.
Lord, my thirsty soul cries out to You!  To You, Lord, I reach my hand
in a dry and weary land.

Answer quickly, O my Lord!  Do not hide from me Your face!
For my spirit fails and I am like those who do not know Your grace.
In the morning let me hear Your steadfast love; Lord I trust You, show my way!
I lift up my soul and pray!

Rescue me from all my enemies!  Lord, I refuge seek in You.
Let me know Your will, O Lord my God; make me know what I must do.
Let Your Spirit lead me on to level ground; save my life!  Preserve my soul!
Rescue, Lord, and make me whole!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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