In keeping with the parables in this section of Matthew, this one is about watching and being prepared for the Lord’s return. Here we see ten virgins who have been invited to the marriage feast. All of them brought lamps as it was night, but five of them were foolish for they brought no spare oil. The other five were wise for they did bring additional oil with them.
Now it is important to first realise that all of these ten virgins were invited to this marriage feast. All of them had been called by the Lord to come to his feast. We who come to the Lord are like those virgins. We have received an invitation to the marriage of the Lamb and the church. But what we see about those who were invited in this parable is that half of them are foolish. The five who brought no oil were not ready and were unprepared for the feast. They did not have sufficient oil to ensure their lamps would stay alight and their lights were going out.
As Christians we are invited to come to the Lord. Like these virgins, we receive the teachings of the Lord that are light to our souls. And like these virgins we must continue to feed our knowledge with the teachings of the Lord so we may grow and not have the light of life dim and go out. If we do not have sufficient oil, that is the knowledge of the truth, our lamps may flicker and go out, as happened to the five foolish virgins.
The oil in our lamps is the teachings of life. These bring the light of knowledge and insight about the gospel of Jesus Christ into our hearts, minds and souls so that we are full of the light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We must continue to learn and to take in these teachings. We must apply the teachings to our lives so that we come to maturity.
However it is evident that some of the people called by the Lord will not do so. They will not get the additional oil necessary to grow with Jesus Christ and their lamps may go out. We see the five foolish virgins asking for additional oil from the five wise maidens, but the response was that there might be insufficient to go around. The wise virgins counsel the foolish ones to go to the dealers to get more oil.
The dealers represent the teachers and preachers of the church, led by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that teaches us all things and brings all of the teachings of Christ to our remembrance. So the foolish virgins are advised to go to the teachers and preachers to get more oil. They are to “go to the dealers” to obtain what is needed to prevent their lamps from going out. One of the issues with this is that it is late at night. The dealers have probably closed up shop for the day and would not be able to provide what the foolish maidens sought. Likewise, the teachers and preachers of Jesus Christ may not be available at the time when these foolish people are seeking his ways. It may be too late and they are inaccessible.
After the foolish virgins go and return they seek entry into the marriage feast. But because they were not ready when they should have been, they are excluded. In the same way, those who are not ready when the Lord returns will also be excluded. They will not be able to enter the kingdom of God for they were not prepared.
So again Jesus finishes his discourse saying, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” This is again a warning to all of his people. This parable is telling us to be prepared and to make ready. If we are not ready when he returns, we will be excluded. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to come to him for teaching and to learn his ways.