The ten virgins in this parable represent the visible church of Christ. They are “virgins” because they are considered pure: made pure in the blood of the Saviour. Each of these virgins has a “lamp”. Jesus said, ‘Ye are the light of the world’ – so do not hide your light under a bushel. Our good works, whilst not being done in order to be seen, should nevertheless flow from us so naturally that men would see them, and glorify our Father which is in heaven.
The idea of “oil” for the lamp speaks of the Holy Spirit. All our gifts and giftedness flow from His presence in our lives. Are we nurturing our relationship with Him – or, more specifically, our relationship with Jesus through Him?
“The bridegroom tarried”. We do not know the day or the hour when the Son of man is coming, so the call to watchfulness is repeated. While He tarried, all ten virgins slept. However, there are two types of sleep. There is the sleep of the slothful, but there is also the contented sleep of those who are truly resting their faith in Jesus.
Then the cry goes up, at a time we least expect. Are we ready to meet Him? For the wise, they only need to shake the sleep from their eyes, trim their lamps, and top-up the oil. For the foolish, the lack of watchfulness reaches beyond a mere drowsiness, to a total unpreparedness for what the Lord is about to do.
Not everybody in the church is ready for Jesus’ coming, no matter what they may tell themselves or one another. Be careful what you deem unnecessary to your Christian walk. When the bridegroom appears, it is too late. You cannot borrow someone else’s faith or faithfulness, riding on the back of a parent’s profession of faith, or boasting of your affiliation to this or that church. It is even too late to apply to your store of unsaid prayers.
We are left with the sad picture of five virgins standing outside the closed door, pleading with the Lord to open the door. Their self-made purity is shown-up for what it is by those awful words: “I never knew you”. Not everyone who boasts the name of ‘Christian’ has ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ – only those who have been ‘justified by faith’.