E64: You can be among the wise virgins! Use your opportunities today – Parables series

PODCAST: Why it’s so important to have a hidden life with Christ.

Parable of the ten virgins: Use your opportunities today! (Podcast)

Have you ever read the parable of the ten virgins and wondered what it takes to be among the “wise virgins?” What did Jesus mean with the different pictures He used? How can we “gather oil in our vessels” in daily life? Join Milenko and Eunice in this episode where they explore the importance of having a hidden life with Christ.

Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 64: You can be among the wise virgins! Use your opportunities today – Parables series

Welcome to ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we talk about how we can “live the gospel” every day, no matter who we are, where we live, and what our circumstances are.

Eunice: Welcome to this episode of “Living the Gospel.” I’m Eunice and I’m here with Milenko.

Milenko: Hi everyone.

Eunice: And we are on our “parables of Jesus” series today. And today we’re going to talk about the parable of the ten virgins, as it’s written in Matthew 25:1-13. And you know, as I was reading this, it just hit me that this is a really, really serious parable. And Jesus told His disciples this parable, and it’s written in the Bible, I think as a warning. And also for us to realize actually how serious it is.

Milenko: And it’s also, on the other hand, it’s actually a really, really uplifting and very, very hopeful parable. So that’s what we really want to bring out here today. And it’s called the parable of the ten virgins. It’s also called the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. So we’re looking at that, and some of the pictures Jesus uses in the parable, like the virgins, the oil, lamps, vessels, that kind of thing. So maybe we can start by reading the parable. This is a story Jesus told, in Matthew 25:1-13, which is the parable of the ten virgins.

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and 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 answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

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What Jesus meant by “virgins”

Eunice: And Jesus tells this parable when He’s on the Mount of Olives. And He tells it to His disciples when they were asking about the end times and things like that. So this parable is related to that topic. And it’s interesting that He says ten “virgins.” He could have said ten women or whatever. And what do you think, actually, He meant by ten “virgins?”

Milenko: Well, it’s a symbol of purity. So we can say all of them were Christians. All of them had given their life to God. They said they wanted to be Christians; they’d put their life in order. They were pure. And that showed by their life. So this is a story about Christians. It’s not about just anybody. It’s about people who are living a good life. At least on the outside. So, if we just take a few of those different things ... We talk about lamps. And the lamp is used to shine; it’s a light. So, this is what you can see on the outside. It’s what people can see.

Eunice: Your confession of faith.

Milenko: For example. Or your good works, outward good works. It’s your Christian life that you can see. And it’s something we all need to have. All virgins, that is to say, all Christians, need to have this shining light.

Eunice: Otherwise, people will say you’re not a Christian!

Milenko: Exactly! I mean, that would mean you’re doing works in darkness, right, if you haven’t got that. So, it is the result of us making a decision. That is that we want to live this good life. And you can say, that’s the oil that’s used to burn, to make that light. When you look farther on in the parable you see how important the oil is. That’s what’s of the essence.

Eunice: That was the difference.

What the “oil” symbolized

Milenko: Right. And if you’re thinking about the picture Jesus uses, is oil. Which was olive oil, and that’s what … In practical life you got the olives, you crushed them, and in a long process, you have to go through several different steps before you get the oil that you can use to burn in a lamp. What does that mean in our life? Something has to be crushed there too, obviously. And in the new covenant, when we read about what the new covenant’s all about, it’s about obeying Jesus’ commandments, which is denying myself, my self-will, the lusts in myself. And you can say, that’s that crushing. And out of that crushing comes oil. And that oil is then used to have this light shining outward. It’s not just something that I do out of my own strength, but it’s the result of something being crushed. And that’s my self-will.

Eunice: So, you’re saying that, well the difference between these two virgins is that the wise virgins had a lot more of this oil. They had crushed their self a lot more than the foolish virgins?

Milenko: To be able to shine as a light you have to deny yourself.

Eunice: Yeah, in one way or another.

Milenko: Because you do. Someone, for example, says something that you don’t like, and then you have to deny yourself not to answer back, right? And then you are peaceful and calm, and that’s a shining light, we can say. And that’s what Christians do; that’s a Christian life. And there’s a lot of examples like that, we can think about lots of different situations in life.

But there was a difference between these two. Because there was a time when they had been in a period of darkness, they’d been sleeping – we can get back to that – but then they all woke up, because now was the time the bridegroom was coming. You can say, OK, now’s the time we’re going to go in to meet our Master, Jesus. And the five foolish virgins suddenly didn’t have enough oil for their lamps to be burning. And that’s what was required. That was, in a way, their ticket into heaven, was that they had this burning lamp. And they said, “we don’t have enough, can you help us?” And the five wise ones couldn’t help them. They had to go and do it themselves.

But what was the difference between those two? Well, the five wise also had oil in their vessels, so they had a surplus of oil. And where did that come from? And that’s the interesting question. Isn’t it enough to like, live this good life that people can see, in that, you know, you’re a light? That’s what we’re supposed to be, you know, a light shining in the darkness. But no, here there was something else. And that’s the interesting question. Where does that oil come from?

What it means to get oil in our vessel

Eunice: So, there’s like … Sigurd Bratlie writes about this in his book “The Bride and the Harlot,” and he writes it so, so clearly actually. Actually, I think we should just read it. He says that, “Even the five foolish virgins will deny themselves in trials so that their lamps shine and people cannot judge them. But then they are satisfied. It doesn’t occur to them that that little drop of oil they received at that moment is also burned up in the same instant.” But then he says, “This does not satisfy the wise virgins. When their trial was over, they reflected on what they had done. In quietness before God’s face, they were able to see themselves, their human nature, and they crushed it.” And this is what it is to have oil in the vessel. He says here, “They had no need for their lamps now, because there was no one to shine for. And the oil they received from this crushing went into their vessels. This is the hidden life with Christ in God."

Milenko:  There’s a lot more to that than that outward thing. There’s something on the inside. And that’s what’s interesting here. That’s where a true disciple of Jesus is interested in finding, “What does God want to do in my life?” And this is, when we talk about salvation, we’ve talked about this many times before in the podcast, what salvation is. There’s the salvation through forgiveness, and then there’s that you start living this outward life. But then we come to what Paul calls “being saved to the uttermost.” And that is that the very root of sin, the source of all these things that come up in me, that that is actually found and brought into what Paul calls “the death of Christ.” That it’s denied, that it’s “crushed,” you can say, and put to death. That’s the word of the cross that Jesus talks about. As being a disciple. To take up your cross daily, deny yourself, and follow me. That’s what this is about.

To use some practical examples, maybe you have like, come to this that you deny yourself so you don’t answer back, and you keep the peace. But then you begin to see, when you reflect on that situation, you being to see that deep down there was a lot more than just that first reaction. There’s demands on the others, there’s pride, there’s this being offended. That lives really deep. Maybe it takes a while before you even get to see it. It’s stirs there and suddenly later it comes up again. And that’s your opportunity. No one sees it. It’s not something that is obvious for anyone. But there you find; this is sin in me. This is something that goes against God’s will. And now God’s will for me is that I take up my cross and I bring this into death. And through the power of the Holy Spirit, you do that. You crush it. And instead of that offendedness and that hardness and those demands living in you, something else comes.

Eunice: There’s a progression and a development.

Milenko: There’s a progression. Exactly.

Eunice: And I think that’s where the mindset, actually, of a wise and foolish virgin becomes clear. Like, it doesn’t say that in the parable, but I can imagine that the wise virgin was very, very interested in finding more of what they could judge in themselves and more of how Jesus’ life could shine forth from them. It’s not like they – I thought about this for myself too – you know, it’s easy to forget when you live a good Christian life and you have a good testimony before people. You know, no one can judge you in that way and say that you did something that wasn’t quite on the line. But the huge difference is that I can go home and I can be kind of happy and you know, go on with life.

Or, I can go home, and in those quiet moments in my room, when I think about the day and when I have a connection with God, then He reveals things that I wouldn’t have seen if I had just been happy with what I had done. And those are the moments Bratlie writes about. In quietness before God’s face, they see themselves and they crush their human nature. And for me that was a real help to read that. So, we also touched on this before, that it takes time to get this oil in the vessel. And that’s why the virgins, they couldn’t just go out and buy oil in the moment, right? It doesn’t work like that.

Milenko: No, it’s actually … We’ve been given this life, Paul writes about that, that we’ve got prepared works that we should walk in. (Ephesians 2:10.) That’s something that God has given us. He’s prepared things for us to do in our life. He wants to have results from our situations. This is something that He’s very carefully planned so that the sum of our life really should be all this oil in the vessel. And if we don’t use those opportunities, if we really don’t listen to the Spirit reminding us, showing us what’s deeper down, what’s the root of this sin, then that opportunity passes. Then we move on to a new one, but that opportunity has passed. And we really need to see this as something really serious. That we use our time, that we purchase the time, as Paul writes, by crushing our olives, you could say, to use that picture.

Why oil cannot be “bought” in a short time

Milenko: The five foolish, they woke up. It was a time of darkness, we don’t know exactly what happened there, but they all fell asleep, so it’s quite likely that that’s a sign of that Christianity maybe is repressed, or that there’s opportunities where you can’t work, you can’t practice your Christianity openly. I don’t know. It’s probably something like that. And so there was a period when they were all, in a way, slumbering. It doesn’t mean that they weren’t living as Christians, it was just...

Eunice: Their lights couldn’t shine. It wasn’t allowed to.

Milenko: They weren’t able to shine in that way for people. Then suddenly the call came, “The Bridegroom is coming!” Right, so that means that the time was come that they were to leave the earth and move into heaven. And then suddenly, when they trimmed their lamps, so they cut the wicks so that it would shine more brightly and so on, suddenly the five foolish realized, we don’t have enough oil in our lamps. It’s not burning anymore! The lights are going out! And what do we do now? There was no opportunity now, in this situation, to get oil. And they said … The five wise, they had oil, “Can you give us some? Your lamps are burning brightly. Can you give us some of your oil?” But that wasn’t possible. It’s something that ... that oil can only be found in my own life, in my situations, the oil that I am to use for my lamp. And so, they went off to try and buy some.

Eunice: Where would you go to buy some?

Milenko: Where would you go to buy that? But I think a lot of Christians are used to this, that they can very quickly get good feelings, or they can be really stirred up, they can become enthusiastic, by the Holy Spirit, right? They receive the Holy Spirit; the Spirit is given as a gift. God gives good gifts to those who ask. And He wants to help us. And He gives us the Holy Spirit. And Christians experience that. And they get this tremendous joy in themselves, and they get this enthusiasm, which keeps them going for a while, and then it starts, you know, if you don’t follow it up, it starts to fade, so you have to get this new refill, you can say. And a lot of people live this life. I think this is a situation like that, where they thought, well, we can just go back and get some more. But the thing is, now was the end of this time, this dispensation, and now is the time that the Holy Spirit had done its work on earth. So, there wasn’t opportunity to get that anymore. And it wouldn’t be enough anyway. What was needed was that you had that oil in your lamp. That’s what the Bridegroom wanted to see, that you’d prepared yourself. That you’d used the opportunities you’d had. That you’d made use of every situation that God prepared for you. To get that oil. But that’s what’s so serious about this, is that the five foolish virgins, they went back to try and buy oil, then they come running back ...

Eunice: Then they’re too late.

Milenko: Then it’s too late. The door’s closed. And when they knock, the Bridegroom comes out and says these terrible words, “I don’t know you.” Why is it that the Bridegroom can say that? It seems so hard. It seems so harsh. You know, these people, they were Christians, weren’t they?

Why Jesus didn’t know the foolish virgins

Eunice: Well, I thought of it too, like in a normal sense, if you love somebody, and you do all these good deeds to them, but you never talk to them, you don’t actually know them, in a way. Then that person can’t say they really know you. And I think that that might be why Jesus didn’t know them, because He didn’t have a relationship with them. They hadn’t sought Him in their quietness or were interested in being more like Him. So, naturally He didn’t know them.

Milenko: I totally agree, and it’s Paul actually writes about this in Philippians 3, where he talks about his own hope. He sees that it’s not enough to have this outward appearance. He really has a showdown with himself in Philippians chapter 3. It’s not enough with all this good outward life. Being a light in that way. He said, I have to go further down. There’s something else I need to lay hold of. Then he says that in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” So, this is how we get to know Jesus. And to get to know the power of His resurrection, which is actually – that’s eternal life for us. Entering into heaven. Getting the door opened for us. That’s the power of resurrection. How do I get that? It says, “through the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Being made like Him in His death. And then we understand that’s not a physical death on Calvary, but this is the death over sin in my life. This is what Jesus did, who was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. So, sin was crushed in His life. That’s the same thing for me. That’s when I get to know Jesus.

And as we read there in John, He says, “I will love him and My Father will love him, and I will manifest Myself for him.” (John 14:21.) And it says a bit farther in the same chapter that We, as God and I, We will come and dwell with you. (John 14:23.) That’s something quite different than the door opening and saying, “I don’t know you.” You don’t know Him if you don’t live that life that He lived, if you don’t follow Him in His footsteps. No matter how good your outward appearance is, it’s not enough. You can also get forgiveness, obviously. This is something ... God is so loving and merciful, and Jesus is so full of grace and mercy that people can receive forgiveness if they ask for it and still get this entrance into life. But it’s something quite different than being known by Jesus and known by the Father and them coming to dwell with us! That means that we already get that taste of eternity here on earth. Imagine that! So that when we meet Him on that day it’s not just as if, oh, we have to try and introduce ourselves. Then it’s too late. He has to open the door and say, “Here you are! Finally we can meet each other!” So instead of this becoming this really heavy and dark parable, we have to look at the other side of it. What we have opportunity for now, in this time of grace, while it’s still light. What can we do?

Why we don’t have to be afraid of the end times

Eunice: And I think it’s probably not so strange for us to be a little bit scared when we think about the end times. Like, I remember as a child we had this painting of the ten virgins on our wall at home, actually, and I remember as a child looking at it, and I was like, this is kind of scary, actually. But what would you say to a young person – or even an older person, you know – listening to this and thinking like, “OK, well this is very serious? It’s kind of scary. What if I end up being one of the foolish virgins?”

Milenko: And it serious, there’s no doubt about it. That’s why Jesus speaks like this. And it’s reality. This is Jesus trying to wake us up to something. And we have to take this seriously. But we haven’t been given a spirit of fear, says Paul. But a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7.) And what’s that spirit of love? That is that I keep His commandments. So, this thing, that I don’t have oil in my vessel and that I wake up and find out, oh, I’ve been living my life in vain. We shouldn’t have to fear that, because it’s never the result of a misunderstanding, that I don’t have oil in my vessel.

Eunice: It’s conscious that you didn’t want to do it.

Milenko: It’s always the result of a conscious decision where I’ve been reminded, where I’ve put it off. Or I don’t see that as so important. It’s enough with that outward life. I think it’s just an inner … This laziness not to take up my cross, not to do something about what people can’t see. Because it’s something, it costs something. It costs my life. It’s something I have to fight, I have to battle, I have to suffer. That’s the fellowship of His sufferings, that I deny my own will. Where people can’t see it, where I don’t get any acknowledgement. The thing is, whose acknowledgement am I looking for? Is it enough that people see that light and then I’m happy? Or do I want to come to that door that is open and be received with open arms? That’s the acknowledgement that I should be living for. Because I love Jesus. That means that I reflect, that I listen to the Spirit, I’m interested in reading God’s word, interested in getting to know Jesus...

Eunice: Interested in changing. There I don’t want to be just the same person all my life. I hope that this episode has brought a seriousness in our hearts. I know it has for me. And also, like, a real hope. Like, the spirit of expectation actually does change your life. You look forward to meeting Jesus, whom you love! And life becomes super interesting. It can be refreshing every day.

Milenko: Yeah. So, if we do this, then we’ve got the most exciting life we can live on earth, with this fantastic future ahead of us! Think of that door opening!

Eunice: And Jesus saying, “Oh hey!”

Milenko: “Come in! Well done my good and faithful servant.” That’s another parable, but it’s the same thing. We come in and we can have a vessel full of oil that burns brightly into eternity.

Eunice: So thank you for listening today.

Milenko: Yeah. Let’s go out and do this. And all the best to all of our listeners. Have a great week.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.