Parable of the Ten Virgins

Jesus’ parable of the Ten Virgins is a stern warning to be ready. Don’t roll the dice; your eternity is far too important to gamble on. Don’t hope you’re good enough; asking God to judge us on our imperfect record would be terrifying.

Are you ready for judgment day? Many avoid the topic of death for fear of what follows. What if you could not only be prepared but excited and joyful about judgment day? Would you want to learn more?

Jesus didn’t avoid the topic of judgment day. In the book of Matthew, he taught about what will happen at the end of the age (Matthew 24). He reinforced the urgency to be ready with three parables (Matthew 25). The first is the parable of the Ten Virgins.

Are You Ready?

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

Matthew 25:1–5

In Jesus’ day, it was customary for the bridegroom to go and fetch his bride from her home. The bridesmaids would accompany her and join in the celebration. Jesus used this cultural backdrop to describe his return. Like a bridegroom, he will bring believers with him to live eternally with Heavenly Father, the wedding banquet of heaven (Matthew 22:1–14).

Jesus introduced us to five bridesmaids who were wise and five who were foolish. They all brought lamps, but the foolish virgins “took no oil with them.” They were unprepared.

This scenario is, sadly, far too common. Many hope they will be good enough, but deep down they’re never sure. Most people wouldn’t “roll the dice” by gambling their retirement fund in a game of chance. How much more important is it for us to be ready for judgment day!

Take the test to see if you’ll avoid outer darkness.


Jesus continued,

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Matthew 25:6–10

Imagine the joy of the five wise virgins! Sure, they were sleeping, but they were ready.

We, too, don’t know when Jesus will return, but imagine what joy those who are prepared will feel when the bridegroom, Jesus, arrives to bring them to the wedding banquet of heaven!

Tragically, the five unwise virgins were not ready. Foolishly, they tried to buy oil, hoping for more time, but the bridegroom came and left. He didn’t welcome them when they returned. On the contrary, the door was shut.

Consider the warning. Some foolishly believe almost everyone will go to heaven, but here Jesus makes it clear that some will be shut out. Others hope they will have more time in a place after this life to prepare, but Jesus doesn’t indicate second chances. Instead, his words “and the door was shut” (Matthew 25:10) are shockingly final. When the door to heaven closes, hope is dead. Being shut out of God’s presence in the darkness will be so frightening those outside of heaven will “say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us” (Luke 23.30; Revelation 6:16).

Jesus’ parable is a warning for us to be ready. Jesus could return today, or our life could unexpectedly end today. The effect is the same. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”(Hebrews 9:27). At the moment of death, we face judgment. Jesus is calling us to be ready today.

No Relationship

Jesus concluded this parable, “Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:11–13).

What do you suppose the virgins were thinking when they knocked? “Maybe he’ll let us in because we intended to be ready.” Or maybe “We should tell him that we at least tried hard to buy oil.”

What will you say on judgment day? “I meant to be ready.” Or “I tried so hard!” Many religious people think they will gain acceptance from God based on their own efforts. Yet, the Bible warns that outward action is not the basis by which we gain access to God. Sadly, many have “a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5). “The LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Note why these five foolish virgins were not admitted into the banquet. He said, “I know you not” (Matthew 25:12).

Jesus will reject those who do not have a faith relationship with him. He warned, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22–23).

What a terrifying thing to hear from Jesus! Such a person would be shut out from all hope of God’s presence and left in the darkness forever.

See: Who Will Live With Heavenly Father?

Are You Ready?

Jesus’ parable of the Ten Virgins is a stern warning to be ready. Don’t roll the dice; your eternity is far too important to gamble on. Don’t hope you’re good enough; asking God to judge us on our imperfect record would be terrifying.

Thankfully, you don’t have to approach judgment day with fear or dread. True faith knows Jesus and clings to him. Faith knows the Savior who didn’t just try hard. He is the Savior that did all things perfectly. He offers his perfect record to you so that you will be judged worthy to be in God’s presence forever.

Faith is the relationship through which God knows us. He has prepared a heavenly banquet with the finest of foods that cost us nothing (Isaiah 55:2), yet him everything. No wonder he can’t wait to welcome us in.

People look forward to weddings. They are one of the most joyous occasions we experience. This is the way Jesus describes judgment day for those who are ready. “They that were ready went in with him to the marriage”(Matthew 25:10). Through faith in Christ alone, you are ready. Through a faith relationship with Jesus, you don’t have to fear judgment day, but can look forward to that day with great joy!

See: The Only Way to Live with God Forever!


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