If Christ returned today, would you be prepared? Whether in your physical death or in Jesus’ second coming, would you be ready to meet Him? In a world where His arrival is delayed, Christmas is a great time to be reminded about our Lord and Savior’s teaching that we prepare for His imminent return. Jesus addressed any lack of preparation as foolishness in The Parable of the Ten Virgins (see Matthew 25:1-13).
The bridegroom’s arrival was delayed: “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out, ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'” (Matthew 25:1-6).
“At the time” referred to Jesus’ second coming (see Matthew 25:1; cf. 24-42). Jesus said that the time between His ascension and Second Advent would be like ten virgins who went out to meet a bridegroom. Ten meant complete in Hebrew, possibly a reference to all people who will fall into two groups upon Christ’s return: wise or foolish. In the story, the wise are those virgins who took jars of oil for their lamps. The foolish ones did not.
Parable means “to throw alongside.” A parable is an earthly truth thrown alongside a spiritual truth. A key component of Jesus’ parable is to understand the bridegroom’s delay was expected.
Earthly Truth: Jewish weddings took place at night. In the late evening, guests were entertained in the bride’s house. After hours of waiting for the bridegroom, whose coming was repeatedly announced by messengers, he would arrive around midnight to fetch his bride. She was adorned like a queen. The girls who had dressed her accompanied her as companions. The bridegroom was dressed in finery and jewelry. He was accompanied by his friends, floodlit by burning candles, and received by the guests who had come out to meet him. The wedding assembly then moved to the house of the bridegroom (possibly the home of his father), where the marriage ceremony and fresh entertainment took place. The dark roadway to the bridegroom’s home was lit with oil lamps held by the wedding guests.
Spiritual Truth: Late Jewish tradition stated that the Messiah would come at midnight to deliver his people in accordance with when their forefathers had left Egypt (see Exodus 12:29). Jesus’ parable teaches us that we should expect Christ’s return to be delayed (see 2 Peter 3:9). Yet, we should be ready for His second coming at any moment (see Revelation 22:12).
How often do you consider Christ’s return? Has the delay caused you to lose focus of the fact that He is coming again? If so, surrender that to Him today.