“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."
Matthew 25:10-13 (NIV)
Many of us will know this parable of Jesus' very well, but it is still one that challenges me every single time I read it. The parable tells of ten virgins whose task it was to meet the bridegroom as he arrived for his wedding feast. Five were deemed to be foolish because they did not bring extra oil for the lamps while five were deemed to be wise because they came prepared with extra oil should the bridegroom be late. The five who were prepared were able to enter the wedding banquet with the bridegroom, while the five foolish ones missed out because they ran off to buy more oil.
Jesus' point of the whole parable was, of course, that everyone should be prepared and waiting for "the day of the Lord", as it was commonly referred to back in Biblical times. But what does being prepared mean? The first way to be prepared is to turn to God in repentance and trust in Jesus' death on the cross as the only way to pay for our sins and make us right with God. It is too late to wait for Jesus' return before we acknowledge Him as Lord and saviour.
The second way to watch and wait for the bridegroom is for believers to always be prepared, living each hour and day of our lives set apart in God's service. Our faith should be obvious to all, our obediance to God wholehearted and sincere. We should always be seeking to live lives that glorify God and be a witness to the unsaved to turn to Him who can save them.
This is probably more difficult some days than others, but it doesn't mean that we should give up. The Bible warns us repeatedly that we do not know the day or hour of Jesus' return; but that we must trust God and watch, wait and be prepared for Christ's return.