"The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’"
I had the honor of officiating a wedding of a young couple in my church plant recently. Due to Covid, the wedding was very intimate… less than 30 people in attendance. However, the bride and groom were able to have a full bridal party with four bridesmaids and four groomsmen. The couple informed me ahead of time that two of the bridesmaids would be performing a special song during the ceremony. I reached out to these two bridesmaids prior to the wedding asking them to practice before the dress rehearsal of the wedding, to which they strongly agreed. On the day of the dress rehearsal, however, it was obvious to everyone that the two bridesmaids had not prepared or practiced whatsoever. As I was going through the Order of Ceremony with the engaged couple, the bridal party, and the family members involved, these two bridesmaids were off to the side of the altar playing the piano and singing the song as if it were their first time. They wasted everyone’s valuable time during the dress rehearsal. Sadly, the two bridesmaids’ lack of preparation was an unfortunate distraction and an unnecessary delay to the larger event that was happening, which was the wedding.
The “virgins” in Matthew 25 are akin to the “bridesmaids” in today’s context. In a traditional first century Jewish wedding, it was customary for several close friends of the bride, typically ten virgins, to escort the groom to his newlywed bride after the wedding ceremony. Since ancient lamps required oil to stay lit, the extra supply of oil was a wise form of preparation.When the five bridesmaids who ran out of oil asked the bridesmaids with extra oil to give them some, it would have actually been unwise to do so, as all of them ran the risk of running out of oil, leaving nobody to escort the bridegroom to his bride.
So much of growing in faith is about preparation, being wise, and discerning.