The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is one of the leaders at St Mary's and is married to Pip.

Matthew 25:1-13

The parable of the ten virgins

25 ‘At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 ‘At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!”
7 ‘Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.”
9 ‘“No,” they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.”
10 ‘But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 ‘Later the others also came. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us!”
12 ‘But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.”
13 ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.


A wedding is about to take place. The party to end all parties. Everyone is invited. There will be gallons of wine. Succulent duck confit for the main. A light up dance floor. Raucous singing. And those delicious little cocktail sausages on sticks.

The bridegroom is about to turn up and when he does the dance-off is on!

Joy is the context of this parable.

We have ten virgins; five wise, five foolish, ten lamps, five with oil, and five without.

When the bridegroom finally arrives after a long wait, those without oil realise they are woefully unprepared for this party.

Jesus is the bridegroom (Jeremiah 2:2) and when he returns, trust me, you want to be prepared for the party that follows.

This is a parable warning about preparation and readiness.

I'm an introvert. My ideal evening would be curled up on the sofa with a book or boxset. My wife, Pip, is an extrovert. Her ideal evening is the opposite of my own. When we first married we had to negotiate our differing priorities. We've since learned a few lessons as a couple, and I now know that if I am going to go to a party I need to prepare myself. That includes pre-charging alone time before I go out.

This is a parable that warns us: how we live matters - now!

It is not possible to join a party we are unprepared for. You cannot dance the night away if you're wearing the wrong shoes. You can't truly let your hair down if you're still thinking about the office.

You can't enjoy the free buffet if you have filled up on snacks.

Let me put it another way.

If there are things you have been putting off that you know you need to deal with today, don't wait until tomorrow. You might not have it (13).

Have you been harbouring unforgiveness towards someone? Plotting revenge?

Jesus says, "let that go, I let yours go, you let theirs."

Have you got an apology to make?

What are you waiting for?

Do you have a dream, a vision, a hope for the future, but fear is in the way?

Be bold - go for it!

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