I remember when I was a kid, this parable was really confusing to me. Things I didn’t understand included: why did they need lanterns for a wedding? Why didn’t the wise bridesmaids share with the other ones? Why couldn’t the bridegroom just recognize their voices and let them come to the wedding?
Recently, I did a little research trying to frame my understanding of this parable so that I could explain it to the kids more easily.
Back in Bible times, weddings didn’t have a concrete start time. Instead, the bride would get ready at her home (along with all her bridesmaids), and they would all wait together for the groom to come and pick her up for the ceremony. They didn’t know exactly when he’d come–only that they needed to be ready.
Because the wedding procession might take place after dark, it was important to have their lanterns ready to go–no matter how long it took. That’s why the wise bridemaids planned ahead–making sure they had extra oil in case the groom took longer than expected.
When the groom finally came, the foolish bridesmaids had to go run out and buy more oil for their lamps, while the rest of the wedding party went along to the wedding. By the time they arrived, it was too late. (Kind of like they’d missed the ceremony! As a bridesmaid, your whole job is to stand beside your friend as you all attend the ceremony.)
The most vital thing to learn about this lesson is not the importance of always having extra batteries for your flashlight.
Instead, what Jesus was trying to teach the disciples was that they needed to be ready for His return one day.
Like bridesmaids waiting for the wedding to start, as Christians, we are waiting for Jesus to come back one day. We don’t know when it’s going to happen–we just know it will be soon! God has called us to live lives that are ready for Jesus’ return.
The kind of “oil” that we need in our lives is the power of the Holy Spirit and the born again life that only Jesus can provide.
About Calvary Temple
Calvary Temple is an independent church which holds to all Assemblies of God tenets of faith. Calvary Temple ministries include Discipleship Training, adult Bible college, media ministry, and an aggressive missions program.
Pastor Star R. Scott is Senior Pastor of Calvary Temple in Sterling, Virginia, where he has ministered since 1973. In addition to the pastoral gift, Pastor Scott functions in the five-fold offices of apostle and prophet. He has planted churches, and currently oversees the pastors and ministries of numerous satellite churches.