The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids
‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
As Jesus was approaching the end of His earthly ministry, he told a series of parables designed to help His followers be prepared for the life to come. On an earlier occasion, Jesus had told His disciples, “Do not judge by appearances, but by right judgments.” Understanding this parable requires that we accept that things are not as they appear. By appearances, the three main characters are deceiving. It requires a second look to reset the message Jesus was trying to convey.
This is a Gary Larson Parable—things are not as they appear
The theme of waiting is woven through this parable. In this case, the wait was for the arrival of the bridegroom.
Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus used parables to convey deep truths about the Kingdom of God, God himself, and his followers. These simple stories reveal a richness and depth that, at first glance, may escape the hearer. But each parable says something eternity-revealing and spur us into action.