One of the parables that has made a tremendous mark on my life is the parable of the ten virgins. This parable comes from Matthew 25 and it is part of a series of parables where Jesus describes what the end of the age and the second coming of Christ will look like. The parable comes to its point when Jesus says at the end of it, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour (of the end of the age).”
Do you know anything of being ready for Christ’s second coming?
It is one of the great certainties of the Bible that Christ will come to this world again. He will come both to punish sinners and to bring the salvation of His people to perfection in His everlasting kingdom of righteousness. Are you ready for His coming? To be ready involves nothing more than being a real, consistent Christian. It does not involve abandoning your daily work so as to be ready for Him, but rather that you must do it as a Christian, with your heart always ready to leave everything when He appears. Again I ask you, are you ready?J.C. Ryle, Walking with God (Abridged and simplified version of Practical Religion)
What does it mean to be wise in our waiting? Looking at this parable, being ready means to be wise. How were the wise ready? They were ready by taking flasks of oil with their lamps because they weren’t sure when the bridegroom would come. How was the foolish not ready? They were not ready because they took no oil with their lamps. I am shaken the most by the fact that outwardly, all ten of them would be considered a Christian. But in the end, only the wise get to come into the marriage feast and the foolish are left outside unable to enter.
They all are considered Christian because they are all waiting for the bridegroom. If they were not, they would not have been part of the bridal party. Outwardly, they had everything to look the part by having the lamp to meet the bridegroom. But one crucial part was missing for the foolish ones. They did not bring flasks of oil. Once it came for them to meet the bridegroom, they needed to go buy oil for themselves in the middle of the night but when they came back to the home, it was too late. The marriage feast had already begun and the door was shut and they were not let in because the bridegroom did not know them.
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to paint a series of artwork to be curated for a university art program overseas. For a week, it was showcased with other art from other students in a school that was proudly secular and humanist. For a Christian, I would consider it to be a place that was hostile to religion and especially Christianity. My friend who was a student there gave me this opportunity and I thought it would be a great opportunity to proclaim the Gospel.
The year I painted this series was one of the most formative and life changing times in my life. And thinking about the return of Christ and the parable of the ten virgins, I was reminded of this fond memory.
Mind you, I am not professionally trained in art. It is more of a hobby than anything else. But an opportunity is an opportunity and I really enjoyed the process of making this series. I can’t believe I still have a picture of it. I myself haven’t seen this in so many years. I painted this series over ten years ago and had given away each art piece to different friends at that time.
If you take a look at each artwork, there is a lot of Christian symbolism. And they are all a unique perspective of the same scene. And no, the Charles Barkley 94’s don’t have any other symbol except I used to wear those sneakers.
The reason why I share this is because the centerpiece of the series is literally at the center of the picture above showing a lamp. This was my artistic interpretation of being like the wise virgins who had oil for their lamps. And to express the supernatural and spiritual aspect of the oil, I painted the fire immersed in the oil that looks like water because I wanted the oil to represent the living water that is found in Jesus.
As we come to this final question from J.C. Ryle, it is my prayer that if the person who is reading this is a Christian, that you would seriously examine the genuineness of your faith. Do you have the flasks of oil ready? In other words, is your life oriented in such a way that Jesus is not simply a priority but your entire life? Does the Word of God permeate through everything that you say, do and think? Is there anything in your life that covers the glory of God? In other words, does your life bear the marks of a true Christian?
If not, today is a reminder that the end of the age is coming in an hour that we do not know. For those who are faithful and wise, this is not a problem. This is a great joy and solid hope. But for those who are unfaithful and foolish, this is a big problem. I pray that you would take this moment as another grace from God to repent and give your life to Jesus today. Find a trusted brother or sister in the faith who will lead you to the Gospel. If you don’t know anyone. I’m here to talk. I hope you’ll reach out.