The Parable of the Ten Virgins
By Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
Nov 09, 2014 (22nd after Pentecost)
After 14 years of studying the Bible, William Miller became convinced that Jesus Christ would return in 1843.
When Miller announced April 3 as the day, some of his disciples went to mountaintops, hoping for a head start to heaven.
Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend in reunion with their departed loved ones. Philadelphia society ladies joined together outside town to avoid entering God’s kingdom amidst the common herd.
When April 4 dawned as usual the Millerites were disillusioned, but they took heart. Their leader had predicted a range of dates for Christ’s return. They still had until March 21, 1844.
The devout continued to make ready, but again they were disappointed. A third date–October 22, 1844–was set, but it also passed. He did not come back (sermonillustrations.com/a-z/s/second_coming.htm).
I. The Coming of the Groom is Expected
People knew that a couple was going to marry. So it was expected that the bridegroom would be coming soon.
The usual Jewish custom was for the “friends of the groom” to conduct the bride to her husband’s home; and when the procession arrived, the groom went forth to lead the bride across the doorway.
However, the imagery of the parable implies that the groom himself went to fetch his bride perhaps from a great distance, while a group of maidens await his return ready to welcome him in Oriental fashion with lamps and torch (Cambridge Bible).
The coming of the bridegroom symbolizes the second coming of Jesus—the bridegroom of the church. Like in the parable, the coming of Jesus is unknown. We know only the Biblical signs, but not the exact date and time. Mark 13:32 says, “But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” Matthew 24:7 says, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”
Some Christians do not believe that Jesus is coming back again.
A retired bishop of The United Methodist Church, Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, did not believe that Jesus is coming again which is contrary to the position of the UMC. Sprague said clearly and concisely that “Jesus walked the earth about 2000 years ago, and that he will NOT come again, as there will be no Second Coming!” (freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/897350/posts).
Popular New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan from his book Who Is Jesus? says that, “The second coming will not be literal. The second coming is what will happen when we Christians accept that there was only one coming and get with the program.” (exposingtheelca.com/exposed-blog/category/john%20dominic%20crossan).
However, the Roman Catholic Catechism states in 674-675 that Jesus Christ is coming back again.
The Nicene Creed: “He (Jesus) will come again in glory….”
Article III of The Articles of Religion, The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church: “…He (Christ) ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all persons at the last day.” (bethany-umc.com/AboutUs/methodistbeliefs.htm).
The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) believes that the Christ will be coming again (apostles-elca.com/what-lutherans-believe.html).
The Bible and early churches believe that Jesus Christ will return in his time to judge all people in the last day. Are we ready for that?
In the parable, the bridegroom is coming. Indeed, the bridegroom is the important character here since the parable is about the kingdom. The kingdom needs the king and that’s the bridegroom.
The calling or roles of the virgins or maidens was to wait for the bridegroom and welcome him, accompany him to bride’s house.
In the parable, the 5 virgins were foolish simply because they did not prepare enough oil for their lamps. They bought oil, but they were late in the affair, and the door was closed already.
It is customary in the East, at great entertainments, to close the doors when all the guests are assembled (Pulpit commentary).
In modern times, all children of God are the “maidens.” It means we have roles in the kingdom, and we need to do them accordingly.
III. The Children of God Must be Ready
What’s the lesson for us in this parable? If we believe that Jesus is coming again in God’s time, what would be our action? Just be ready. But how are we going to be ready?
For me the oil in the parable is the oil of love. We need to be filled up of that oil every moment since we don’t know when Jesus would be coming again.
It’s not enough to do our roles in the kingdom. We need to do our roles with sustenance of the oil of love. Without it, our service may stop when there is no more oil. Being ready means being filled up with the oil of love.
Biblical prophecy provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Christ’s first advent, so both testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ.
One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ–an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent, there are 8 which look forward to His second (sermonillustrations.com).
Indeed, Jesus Christ is coming again. To know that he is coming is enough. It will drive us to prepare, and do something for the coming of the expected one.
In the Philippines, it’s customary to clean our homes if we expect an important visitor. We don’t only clean, but we redesign the arrangement of our furniture. We buy something to beautify our house. If we have little kids we tell them, “When the visitor comes, don’t be noisy and don’t play around.”
Now that we rekindled out faith in the second coming of Jesus, let us light up our lamp, and sustain it with the oil of love.