Podcast: The Parable of the Ten Virgins
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What Makes this Passage Difficult?
In this parable, commentators are quick to say that the moral is to be watchful.
But what does it mean to watch? What is going on in this parable?
Ancient custom is that when a couple was engaged to be married, the bride would continue to live at home while the groom built a room onto his family’s home. When the room was completed, he would make a procession to the bride’s home. The bride does not know when to expect the groom, so the bride would have to continually be on alert. This would include the bridesmaids.
In that culture, it was unthinkable that the bridesmaids would not be prepared for the groom to come. It was their job.
Who are the Bridesmaids?
These represent those who are following Christ or awaiting Christ’s return. There is a slight mixing of metaphors because the Church is the “bride,” but we also have the bridesmaids included in that.
A Third Group
Often, Christians have the perspective that there are two groups of people – those who love God and seek after him and those who hate God and oppose him. The gospels do not give us such a distinct picture. Matthew does present people who are outwardly part of the Kingdom – who do all the right things – yet end up not being part of the Kingdom because their hearts were never transformed. This is an extremely difficult thing to grapple with.
There is a jarring part of this parable – those who are outwardly religious yet are rejected by Jesus at the end. A huge aspect of this parable is Jesus’ audience, the Scribes. He was trying to convince them that they were outwardly producing fruit but not internally.
The Second Coming
It is easy to be complacent about our spiritual state. In this parable, Jesus is shaking up that tendency. We are to be prepared for the second coming and live like the second coming is an actual, physical reality. At some point, it will be too late to prepare – the groom will arrive.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas and is a writer and content manager for So We Speak.