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(Matthew 25:1-13).

1 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 the virgins
were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish ones took their
lamps, they did not take extra olive oil with them. 4 But the wise ones
took flasks of olive oil with their lamps. 5 When the bridegroom was
delayed a long time, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 But at
midnight there was a shout, Look, the bridegroom is here! 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, because our
lamps are going out. 9 No, they replied. There wont be enough for you
and for us. Go instead to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.
10 But while they had gone to buy it, the bridegroom arrived, and those
who were ready went inside with him to the wedding banquet. Then the
door was shut. 11 Later, the other virgins came too, saying, Lord, lord!
Let us in! 12 But he replied, I tell you the truth, I do not know you! 13
Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour
(Matthew 25:1-13). 268
How many of you have ever run out of petrol? In most audiences, this would be
nearly everyone. I cannot verify these statistics, so I caution you that they may be
flawed. It would appear that every year at least a half million people call for help
because they have run out of petrol. Besides flat tires, dead batteries, and misplaced
keys, running out of petrol ranks right up there in the reasons why people call for
roadside service. One might understand this happening a generation ago, when
petrol gauges were not entirely accurate, and when all the warning lights of our day
were non-existent. But now we have warning messages that our fuel is running low
(giving us perhaps an hour more of driving), and then additional progressively
urgent warnings indicating just how many estimated miles of driving we have left.
One must say that most people who run out of fuel are without excuse.
Why, then, do we do it, seemingly as often today as people did years ago, when all of
the advantages of technology were not available? Well come back to this question at
the end of our message. In our text, it is not petrol line that is lacking, but olive oil
the fuel burned in the lamps of Jesus day. And, I believe we will discover that the five
foolish virgins did not really run out of oil; they never had it.

The Context

We might illustrate the need for readiness in a different way. Firemen are trained and
equipped to fight fires. They know there will be fires, but they dont know when. And so
they are in a constant state of readiness, even when they sleep. Their clothing is all laid
out so they can quickly dress and get to the fire. Sometimes I see the fire truck outside
the grocery store where I shop. The firemen are in the store, buying food. But they also
have their portable radios in hand, ready to rush out if word of a fire is received.

This parable, like the others, is based upon the premise that we do not
know the day nor the hour of our Lords return:
Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour (Matthew
25:13; compare 24:26, 42-44, 50).
This parable, like the others, indicates that the Lords coming will
distinguish one group of people from another (compare Matthew 24:37-41,
45-51; 25:1-12, 31-46). The one group enters in with our Lord, to enjoy fellowship
with Him. The other group is kept out, and assigned to eternal torment.
This parable, like others in this section, indicates that this distinction
between believers and unbelievers, between those who will enter the
kingdom of heaven and those who will be confined in hell, may not be
apparent until the coming of Christ. It is at the second coming, when men stand
before our Lord, that their true spiritual status (and thus their destiny) is known.
Several times in the Gospels, Jesus makes it clear that there will be some surprises
(regarding who is in the kingdom and who is not) when He returns.