Jesus sat with His disciples on the Mount of Olives. The surroundings were still, and they overlooked the great city of Jerusalem. One of the disciples broke the silence, turning to Christ. “Master, when will You come again? You have told us that the temple will fall. What will be a sign that you are coming again, and that the world will soon end?” he asked. The others listened to their friend’s question, then shifted towards Jesus. The Master paused, looked around at this small group of trusted men, and began to speak. He told of wars, famines, natural disasters, and false prophets. Then He told the disciples a story.
“There once were ten virgins who went to celebrate the marriage of their friend, the bridegroom. The celebration would begin late at night, as the groom began a parade from one part of the city to the other, on the way to his bride. The ten virgins went to wait for the parade to pass in the middle of the city. “No one knew the exact moment that the groom would reach their part of the city. Five of the virgins brought extra oil for their lamps, in case the groom came later than expected. That way, they would be able to join in the parade whenever he came. The other five virgins were sure he would come soon enough, and they didn’t want to be bothered with the animal-skin bags of extra oil.
Oil lamps were very small and fit in the palms of their hands. Once filled, they would provide about one hour’s worth of light. And there was only a bit of light, just enough to guide one person through the dark. The wise virgins filled their lamps all the way, sure they would have enough to make it to the celebration. All ten found a spot together and slept as they waited. “At midnight, someone shouted ‘Wake up! The groom is coming! “The young women all got up and checked their lamps. All had burned out of oil.
The five virgins who were prepared refilled their lamps and excitedly waited for their friend. The other five began to panic and asked the prepared young women to split their extra oil with them.“ ’I’m sorry, but I don’t have any more,’ one replied. ‘If I share with you, then I might run out as well! I can’t miss the celebration of our friend. But you might have time to go and buy more if you hurry!’ “So, the unwise five ran to go and buy oil. While they were gone, the groom and his parade of friends and family reached the place the five wise virgins were waiting. They joyfully joined the parade and continued on.
When the unwise five returned, the parade had already passed. They ran through the streets, trying desperately to catch up. “When they reached the place of celebration, they knocked on the door, shouting, ‘Let us in!’ “The groom answered the door. He looked at the foolish young women and said, ‘I don’t know who you are. My friends were waiting for me and are already here.’ And he closed the door.” Jesus then said, “Always be prepared for my coming. No one knows when that day comes, so be ready.”