In Syhcar, in Samaria, Jesus had been so busy with teaching the woman at the well and then the people of the city, that He had neglected to eat. His disciples, concerned for Jesus’ well-being, urged Him to eat something (John 4:31). But Jesus told them that His meat was to “do the will of Him” that had sent Him and to “finish His work” (John 4:34). Just before Jesus died on the cross of calvary, He said “It is finished” (John 19:30). He had completed the work He was given to do.
However, while the Lord completed His work on earth, He spoke about another phase of His work, especially toward the end of His work here. Jesus said “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself” (John 14:3). Jesus promised to come again. This should have given the apostles comfort after Jesus’ death and an indication that He would keep His word and rise again the third day (Luke 24:37). But Jesus did leave this world and promised to return once again (Acts 1:11; Heb. 9:27). That promise still stands.
In one of the parables Jesus delivered during His last hours on earth, He described His return in the figure of the return of the bridegroom (Matt. 25:1-13). It was the custom in those days for the bridegroom to spend time at the home of the bride’s father and then to bring his new bride to his own home. Virgins waited for the bridegroom to come, so that they could assist the bride in her new surroundings. In this parable, ten virgins wait for the bridegroom to return.
At midnight, at an hour when you might least expect it, the call came that the bridegroom approached. The bridegroom had been away longer than anticipated. The young women, who had been busy with preparations, were now weary for waiting so long and had fallen asleep. But when the call came, they arose and hurriedly prepared to go to meet the bridegroom and his new wife. Five of the virgins were wise and had prepared beforehand by taking extra oil, anticipating a longer wait. Five were foolish and did not prepare for any eventuality.
The foolish virgins desired that the wise virgins would give them of their oil, but they refused, lest they should not have enough for themselves. They counseled the five unwise to go to the market and purchase their own oil, but by the time they returned it was too late. The door to the house was shut and when they called for entrance, the bridegroom said unto them “I know you not” (Matt. 25:11,12). Someone else cannot make preparations for us; we are all going to receive the things done in our bodies (II Cor. 5:10,11).
Jesus gives us the point of this parable. “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). Previously, Jesus had said that even the angels do not know when He will return (Matt. 24:36). There were many things the angels would like to have known but could not (cf. I Pet. 1:12). Mark also indicates that Jesus, on earth, did not even know when the return would be (Mark 13:32). If the angels and the Son did not know, how can we believe any mortal man who would claim to know the day or hour of the Lord’s return?
But as Jesus teaches us in His parable, the key is not knowing the day or the hour, but in being prepared no matter when He might return. It is easy, as the Lord delays His return, for scoffers to say “Where is the promise of His coming” (II Pet. 3:3,4). It is also easy for us who believe to grow weary in well-doing and faint as we wait (Gal. 6:9). Just as the virgins fell asleep waiting for their Lord to return, we might also fall asleep. Thus, Paul warns us:
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:14-17).
Do not be unwise. Don’t let your oil run out. Redeem the time. When the bridegroom comes will you be ready?
Eric L. Padgett