There were ten of them. Similar in many ways, but different in one over-arching manner. These ten ladies were all young and they were all pure. Each had indicated they wanted to be part of the wedding processional when the bridegroom came for his bride. Everyone of them knew it was likely he’d arrive at night and so each had a lamp. And each went to meet the bridegroom.
But the bridegroom was delayed. And so, each had to wait. And wait longer than they had anticipated. Wait so long that eventually each of them became tired and slept.
Each of them was wakened by a midnight cry, “Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” Each awoke. Each sought to get their lamps ready.
All similar in many ways. But yet vastly different in one very important way.
“Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. . . . And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ ” ~ Jesus
(Matthew 25:2-4, 8-9 ESV)
Though they all had said they wanted to be part of the wedding, five were prepared and five were not. Five had availed themselves of the necessary provision to ensure their lamps would shine, and five had fallen asleep at the wheel even before they fell asleep waiting for the wedding. The oil had been available to all, but not all had availed themselves of the oil.
Thus, five entered the wedding feast and five scrambled at the last minute to get ready and found themselves outside a locked door.
And Jesus makes clear the point of this story He told about the nature of the kingdom of heaven,
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” ~ Jesus
(Matthew 25:13 ESV)
Watch. Stay awake. Be vigilant. Ensure your head is in the game.
Lamps without enough oil? Foolish. Devices capable for emitting light without the resources to provide light? Dull and unprepared. Relying on their ingenuity to, at the last minute, improvise and presume on others giving them what they should have had? Blockheaded, absurd. And the consequence of not being ready? Massive.
So many ways to apply Jesus’ parable. Fact: He, as the Bridegroom, is coming again. Fact: many are being invited to participate in the wedding. Fact: many will look like they’re ready. Fact: some will not be ready. Not ready in that they never really owned the Bridegroom or His wedding day as their own and thus failed to avail themselves of His provision in order to, themselves, be light-providers. Or not ready in that, while they had started out well, with lamps trimmed and ready to shine, they lost interest, or became distracted, and fell asleep and their lamps were all but out when it was time for them to shine brightest at His return.
And to all Jesus says, “Watch therefore.”
Be ready. Lamps in hand with oil in reserve . . . anticipating the call.
The provision for lit lamps? Available to all by His grace. The purpose for lit lamps. That they might shine light on Him alone–while we wait and when He comes.
Lamps in hand with oil in reserve . . . for His glory.