PARABLE OF THE TEN MAIDENS
AND OF THE TALENTS
The Gospel of Matthew chapter 25 is a continuation of the
great Olivet prophecy. Matthew is the only one to record the
second half, or the continuation of this large and somewhat
detailed prophecy of Christ's.
Jesus went on to say:
"Then the Kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens
who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of
them were foolish, and the other five were wise. For when the
foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the
wise maidens took a container of oil with their lamps. As the
bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and went to sleep. But
then at midnight there was a loud cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom!
Come out to meet him.' Then all the maidens rose up and quickly
trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us
some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise
maidens replied, 'Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for
you; go rather to the dealers and buy more oil for yourselves.'
And while they went off to buy, the bridegroom came, and those
who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the
door was shut. Afterwards the other maidens came also, saying,
'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I
do not know who you are.'
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the
Many have meditated over what the "oil" could represent.
Obviously the bridegroom is Jesus. The wedding feast is the
marriage feast at the coming of Christ, when He returns to
receive His bride and to enter the feast marriage of the Kingdom
of God on earth. This is all depicted in Revelation 19: 6-16.
The maidens represent those called to the marriage feast of
the Kingdom of God. Though they all went to sleep to some degree,
the bridegroom Christ, taking longer than anyone expected to
return, the church, half of them did think to make sure they had
extra oil in their lamps. The oil could as some have speculated,
represent the Holy Spirit, and I think there is some truth to
that claim. Whatever the case may be for what the lamps and oil
could represent, the main thought that Jesus wants to get across,
is what He says at the end of this parable.....WATCH, be ready,
and He had just before got through talking about watching and
being ready. It was all to do with a person's CONDUCT, how
they lived. If some of His disciples thought He was delaying His
coming, and only wanted to be a Christian and follow Jesus IF
they could live to see His return, but got tired of waiting and
living like Christ, and went back into the world, and all the
ways of the unconverted world, they may very well miss out on
entering the Kingdom, being too late, or just not ready as they
should be in order to enter the Kingdom.
Jesus was saying that His disciples, the children of God,
must be faithful in their conduct of the life, to the end. If
some gave up that life of light, and thought they could get it
all back at the last moment, when the shout went out that the
bridegroom Christ was coming, then Jesus was warning, they better
think again! Some just may leave off making sure they make their
calling and election sure (as Peter said we should in 2 Peter
1: 3-11), and find it will be too late to do so at the last
moment, and Jesus will refuse them entry into the Kingdom when He
Again, some very sobering words from Jesus, just not the
words most people want to hear, nor the words most are told from
their pastors that Jesus said here, and at other times also.
We may also wonder about Jesus saying the maidens were going
to meet the bridegroom at night, with lamps, and that he came at
midnight. In our modern twenty-first century, western world, we
have no such custom, but marriage customs differ in various
countries, and they have differed or changed in some countries as
the centuries have past.
Going back to the time when Jesus was relating this parable
analogy, the general marriage custom in Judea was like this:
"....the essence of the ceremony consisted in the removal of
the bride from her father's house.....After putting on festive
dress....the bridegroom set forth from his house, attended by his
groomsmen, proceeded by a band of musicians or singers, and
accompanied by persons bearing lamps. Having reached the house of
the bride, who with her companions anxiously expected his
arrival, he conducted the whole party back to his own or his
father's house.....On the way back they were joined by a party of
young girls (virgins), friends of the bride and bridegroom, who
were in waiting to catch the procession as it passed....At the
house a feast was prepared, to which all the friends and
neighbors were invited, and the festivities were protracted for
seven or even fourteen days......" (The New Unger's Bible
Dictionary, page 818).
Now it becomes clearer. The bridegroom would go to fetch his
bride in the very late afternoon or early evening, hence the
taking of lamps, for by the time he and his bride returned to his
house it would be dark. As the bridegroom returned with his bride
and all in attendance with them, they were met by young girls,
maidens, friends of both the bride and bridegroom. These young
ladies would also have lamps, as it was now dark. In the parable
Jesus says the bridegroom was long in returning, or delayed his
coming for some reason not stated and not important, for the
purpose of the main point of the parable Jesus wanted to convey.
The bridegroom was so long in returning that the maidens fell
asleep. Then at midnight the cry went out that the bridegroom was
coming, and the young maiden ladies arose to trim and light their
lamps, to meet him and join the wedding party back to his home
and so be part of the marriage feast. Some of the maidens were
wise enough to realize it might be possible the bridegroom would
stay with his bride at her home for longer than usual, before
returning as a group to his home, so they took extra oil for
their lamp just in case that should happen.
The point being that Jesus wanted to get across was those
five wise maidens were prepared for any and all situations, as to
how long the bridegroom would be before returning, and their
joining the bridegroom to the wedding feast.
Going on with more analogies of the Kingdom of heaven, Jesus
"For it will be as a man going on a journey and calling his
servants he entrusted to them his property; to one he gave FIVE
talents, to another TWO, and another ONE, to each servant
according to his natural ability. Then he went away. He who had
received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and
he made five talents more. So too, the one who had the two
talents made two more talents. But he who had received the one
talent, went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.
Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and
settled the accounts with them. And he who had received the five
talents came before him, bringing five more talents as well, and
saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here they are
plus five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good
and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I
will give you authority over much; enter into the joy of your
And he also who had the two talents came before him, saying,
'Master, you gave me two talents; here they are besides two more
talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done you good and
faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will
give you authority over a lot; enter into the joy of your
He that received the one talent also came before this
master, and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping
where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not plant. I
was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here it
is, you can have back what is yours.' But his master answered
him, 'You wicked and lazy servant! You knew that I reap where I
have not sown, and gather where I have not planted. Then you
ought to have at least invested my money with the bankers, and at
my coming back I should have received what was mine with
interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him that
has ten talents. ' For I say to you, that to everyone who has,
it shall be given; but from him that has not shall be taken away
even that which he has. And the unprofitable servant shall be
cast out into darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of
It was not the first time Jesus used this type of parable.
The main point He wants us to get is that, although we may not
all be equal in gifts, abilities, money, natural talents,
although we may all differ in all these physical things and what
was given to us in our genes at conception, in so far as things
we can do with our mind, our hands, our feet, and our body (some
of us are good at sports, some are not, some are good at music
while others are not, some are good at art work while most of us
may not be, some can sing like the birds and others are more like
a fog-horn, etc.), we can all do something with what we have
been given. We need to find what we have been given and use it,
do something with our lives that make us a profitable servant. We
can find what secular job we would be good at, go for it as they
say, and be the best we can be at that job. We can look at what
natural abilities or talents we have and use them to serve, help,
do good to others with those abilities. If we have or come to
have large amounts of money, we can use that money to help, to
serve, to give to those who are in true need. Whatever and
wherever we are, we can make a difference in this life to
someone, somewhere, sometime. And we need to let that sometime,
be most of the time.
If we do not use what we have been given, God will count us
as an unprofitable servant, and the words Jesus said about what
happens to the unfrofitable servant, speak for themselves.
If we sit down and use our mind to think with, together with
the Spirit of God, going to the Lord to ask Him for guidance, we
can come up with something that we can do to be a profitable
servant, and so have our Father in heaven say to us one day,
"Well done you good and faithful servant; you have been faithful
over little, so I will give you authority over much, enter the
joy of your master."
THE GREAT SEPARATION OF SHEEP FROM GOATS
Being a follower of Christ is accepting Him as personal
savior, it is repenting of sin, it is a willing heart to obey
God, it is realizing the Lord does have teachings or doctrines,
and a way of life that we are to try and live, and part of that
way of life is VERY IMPORTANT! It is so important that Jesus in
Matthew 25 devoted a whole parable to and a somewhat detailed,
down to earth, explanation, making it very clear what He expects
from His disciples, and from those who claim to be have Christ's
"When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the angels
are with Him, then He will sit on His throne of glory. Before Him
shall be gathered all the nations, and He will separate them one
from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
And He will place the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on
His left hand. Then the King will say to those on His right hand,
'Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for
you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you
gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a
stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I
was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'
Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see you
hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did
we see you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the King will
answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of these
my brethren, you did it to me.'
Then He will say to those at His left hand, 'Depart from me,
you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his
angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty
and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not
welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison
and you did not visit me.' Those on the left will answer, 'Lord,
when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or
sick or in prison, and did not serve and help you?' Then He will
answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it NOT to one of
the least of these my brethren, you did it not to me.' And they
on the left will go away into the punishment that lasts for
eternity, but the righteous into eternal life" (Mat.25 31-46).
Pretty clear and simple words coming from Jesus is what we
have just read. No University degree is needed to understand the
message Jesus was teaching. Christians who want to inherit
eternal life in the Kingdom of God, at the resurrection when
Jesus comes again to rule all nations of the earth, had better be
helping, serving, doing good, to others in this life time, in one
way or another. Jesus clearly taught that being a true child of
the Father and inheriting His Kingdom, meant that your life would
have to be one of service to others, in whatever way your
abilities, time, talents, physical resources, would allow you to
be able to help and serve others.
A Christian is not to shut themselves up, go out by
themselves and live the days of their life as a lonely hermit on
some island in the sea where no one else lives.
We shall see later where Jesus prayed to the Father that His
disciples would NOT be taken out of the world (as a general way
of life), but that the Father would keep them from the evil of
Jesus earlier had said that His disciples were to shine as a
light in a dark place, to be a city set on a hill, that all could
see. He had said their good works were to be manifested to the
world, so people could come to glorify God. You do not do all
that by being shut off in some secluded place all by yourself.
The Christianity Jesus taught was one of " being out there"
as we say, being out there to help and serve others. Jesus taught
that His followers where to be in essence "in the public eye,"
but not with vanity of mind and outward pomp, but with a humble
and loving attitude of caring for and helping others, as they
could and as their means of helping allowed them.
Those who would be Christians and who wanted to also have
eternal life in the Kingdom, but who would not serve and help
others, were just simply not going to make the grade. They were
not going to be numbered among the righteous. They would be
looked upon as goats by Jesus, and they would be on the left
side, and those on that side would be cast away into the
punishment that would last for all eternity, which is the
second death in the lake of fire, as we find in the last verses
of Revelation 20.
The righteous sheep, those on Jesus' right hand, those who
served their fellow man, are called "the righteous" by Jesus, and
they He said will go into eternal life.
I will say it again, we cannot "earn" our salvation by our
good works, for we are saved by grace through faith (Eph.2: 8),
but God is only going to give His gift of grace or forgiveness of
our sins through the blood of Christ, to those who will be
willing to have a certain mind-set as to how they will live. And
part of that mind-set attitude they must have as God's children,
is to serve and help others.
It's not hard, it does not take four years of University
book studying and exam writing, to get your degree in "public
service" - well not the public service Jesus was here talking
about. All you have to do is get up and serve your fellow human
being in one way or another. Do that, and as Jesus said to one
man who answered correctly about which was the great commandment,
"You are not far from the Kingdom of God."
Written January 2003