I have always been bothered by this parable until recently. What unsettled me was the response of the wise virgins. They all fall asleep. But when the announcement is made, “Behold, the bridegroom,” only five have oil to light their lamps. Why didn’t the wise virgins share their oil with the ones that don’t have any? But this time, however, I heard something new.
If the oil signifies not only our faith but the good works of our life—our good deeds—then the oil is something we cannot share. As Matthew points out earlier, “by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16). And later in chapter 25, Matthew describes the final judgment as a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats. The measuring stick for entering the Kingdom? The good deeds done for others unable to care for themselves: “I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (v. 40).
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