The parable of the Ten Virgins caught my eye because they woke up from sleeping while they were waiting for their bridegroom. The term woke has become a popular phrase to identify yourself with a particular ideology, almost theology. It is important for believing Christians to take notice of the two groups that woke up in this parable.
Matthew 25:1+2 has the Wise Five and the Foolish Five as part of the kingdom of heaven. In our modern context of Woke, that adds a layer to the story that only God could have seen. But the story was told to first-century Jews and for us. Because the groups had different responses and actions after they woke up from a period of sleep or inaction would have more meaning for Jesus’ audience.
The setting of when and where this story was told is part of the prophetic importance that I usually miss. The immediate setting is the Temple just before Jesus’ final Passover. But placing it in the metanarrative of the Gospels cannot be lost in the parable’s study. This Passover is about forty months from when Jesus went to the Jordan to be baptized by John, Matthew 3:13. The exact time is not recorded, but after Jesus’ first miracle, He goes to Passover, John 2:13.
Jesus was at the Jordan when he started His triumphal march to Jerusalem. This concluded with the parade we call Palm Sunday. (See on His Way to Jerusalem and #2, and The Triumphal Enter.) The Sermon from the Temple occurs on Tuesday of Holy Week. The Kingdom and His return become the chief topic and the watchfulness that the believers in God should have is highlighted. When Jesus tells this parable, it is to reinforce and add to several vignettes about the End of the Age. Jesus frames this parable with why He is teaching it: Matthew 25:1 and 25:13. Verse 1 says (my paraphrase) Then the kingdom will be like ten virgins. Then the kingdom, or at that time, refers to 24:36-51. This is echoed in verse 13 when it says, watch or stay alert because you do not know.
The Kingdom is the object of the lesson, and everything will need to be viewed considering it. But this teaching is being used to explain 24: 36-51. Then, as now, people had/have different views of what God’s kingdom should look like. We want to think we know the mind of God, but our personal desires, doctrinal leanings, and political hopes might not be what God has in mind. Please, be careful of putting God in YOUR box.
Like it or not, all ten girls represent the kingdom, vs 1. You can argue the metaphors all day long and there are many things that have been said, but the ends time will be like those virgins. (This is stirring me to focus again on the kingdom.) All started with a call or invitation from the bridegroom, all brought their own lamps; all of them fell asleep, all woke up and tended their faltering lamps; and all wanted to go with the bridegroom. The first five are foolish (moros Strong’s G3474) because they take part in senseless wickedness. The wise (phronimos Strong’s G5429) five are considerate, thoughtful, prudent, and discreet. Leaders of the kingdom, that sounds like the people need your help.
Woke Up-the virgins all responded to the call that their Desire was near and they had to go meet Him. The Foolish Five demanded oil from the wise. They were denied. So, in the middle of the night, they went and woke up those who sold oil. Does that sound familiar? The Wise Five left and went to wait for the groom. The refusing to share, by the Wise Ones, will need further musing, but that is a radical thought. Believers, that sounds like saying NO is an acceptable answer when pressured by those who choose to be foolish. The foolish left and got: I never knew you, when they knocked on the door. THOUGHT-How would this story look if they had just stayed with the Wise Five.
The term in this story for woke is ēgerthēsan. It occurs twice in the New Testament. Here in Matthew 25:7 and then in 27:52. Chapter 27 is telling about the dead who rose to life and went back into Jerusalem.
For just a moment, compare the two stories-sleeping, waking, and going. Another story about sleeping and waking in Matthew that is connected to Holy Week is the Big Three falling asleep while waiting/praying with Jesus. Again, many connections there are hard to dismiss.
Telling on myself. This post was growing out of control, so I pruned it. Parables of the kingdom and other discussions about the kingdom will be coming. The ten virgins who woke up still have many worthy points in it that need talking about.