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Prior to telling this parable Jesus was discussing his eventual return. We refer to this as the second coming of Christ. It was important that the disciples began to understand that His death on the cross would not be the end. This was a reality that they would not begin to grasp until He would appear to them after His resurrection.
Jesus offered a a nugget of truth about His return before He moved into the parables He had chosen to tell. It is important that we do not miss this.
This conversation began when the disciples approached Him and asked, “Tell us, when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” In response to that question Jesus says that He does not know when this will happen. Not even the angels are wise to such information. The only one that knows is the Father.
This says to us that our wait could be another ten years, or it could be another two thousand years. This is important because Jesus uses this information to lead into a parable where a group of women are waiting for the return of a bridegroom with an unspecified time of return.
Jesus also told a short story about a servant that was caught off guard. A servant was put in charge of his master’s household. Then a comparison is drawn between the consequences for a faithful servant and an unfaithful servant. The unfaithful servant is said to have done evil things and kept vile company, because he believed his master would not return for a long time. Jesus explains that the master will return on a day he is not expected and at an unknown hour.
Jesus then begins telling the following story.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent [or wise]. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. 5 Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
– Matthew 25:1-13 (NASB)