The Parable of The Wise & Foolish Bridesmaids

God’s Kingdom is like the whole scene portrayed by this parable where some bridesmaids are prepared for the groom and enjoy the banquet and others are excluded by their own lack of preparation. The banquet itself is symbolic imagery of the messianic banquet at the end of the age. In this story, it is expected that the bridesmaids would await the arrival of the bridegroom and greet him with a procession of light in the darkness. Presumably the bridesmaids are waiting either at the brides' home for the groom to come and fetch her or at the home of the groom's family where the wedding would take place. All the maids have either lamps or perhaps large torches. All are waiting with their lamps lit in eager expectation of the groom's appearance. The bridegroom is delayed. 

Due to the delay of the groom and the late hour, all the bridesmaids have fallen asleep.  Their sleepiness is not the problem, since both wise and foolish alike have become drowsy. The wise brought extra oil for their lamps (Matt. 25:2-4). Both groups knew that the groom was coming and waited with their lamps burning, but only half considered that the wait in the darkness might be longer than anticipated.  When all the maids were awakened at the announcement of the groom's arrival, they all set about trimming and preparing their lamps for the procession. To the horror of the foolish, though, they discovered that they would not have enough oil to keep their lamps burning. The wise maidens refused to lend their extra oil. If they gave away their oil, they would not have enough. Then what would become of the procession to meet the Bridegroom? When the foolish were away making last minute arrangements that should have been made already, the groom arrived. The procession occurred without the foolish bridesmaids, and the banquet began. The foolish knocked on the door of the house, but their entrance to the wedding banquet was denied by the groom. They missed the grand procession. 

In this parable, the bridegroom's arrival was certain. The uncertainty of the timing illustrates the need for constant vigilance. To live in vigilance means for the disciples to do the tasks that they have been appointed to do in preparation for the Master's coming. In Matthew's account of Jesus’ Gospel, those tasks include bearing witness to God's kingdom by welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned (Matt. 25:31-46), and making disciples in all the world (Matt. 28:19-20).

Posted on November 7, 2014 .