Matthew 25 is a continuation of Jesus teaching about His 2nd Coming, beginning in Matthew 24:36. Jesus had answered the disciples’ question about the destruction of the Temple and, in Matthew 24:36, transitions into answering their related question about His 2nd Coming. While the disciples likely believed that they were the same question and that the 2nd Coming of Christ would coincide with the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 1:6, 7), Jesus makes it clear that these are two separate events. Matthew 24:36 begins with a contrasting conjunction, “But,” meaning that the day to which He refers in this verse is being contrasted to the day He had been discussing previously – i.e. the time of Jerusalem’s destruction (Matthew 24:4-35).
After telling the disciples that no one knows when He will return in the final judgment, Jesus uses some parables to illustrate the necessity of preparedness. The only way to be prepared for an event that will occur at an unknown and unexpected time is to be prepared for it to take place at any given time. The parable of the faithful and evil servant illustrates the necessity of proper conduct at all times (Matthew 24:45-51). The only way to be found working faithfully for the Master when He comes is to be working faithfully for the Master today and every day. We don’t know when He’s coming and it will be at an unexpected time. But we do fully expect that He is coming. If our conduct is unfaithful at any given time then that could be the unexpected time of His expected return!
The parable of the ten virgins is another illustration of Christ’s 2nd Coming (Matthew 25:1-13). Where the parable of the two servants emphasized maintaining our Christian lifestyle, the parable of the ten virgins emphasizes persistence and steadfastness in living that lifestyle. There were five wise and five foolish virgins (Matthew 25:2). What made the difference was their level of preparation. Where the five foolish only brought enough oil for a short wait, the five wise brought enough to last even for a long wait. The five wise fully expected that He would come, but they didn’t know when to expect Him. So, the wise thing to do was to have enough oil, no matter how long it took.
Since the Lord will come, but we don’t know when that will be, we need to make sure that we are prepared to wait no matter how long it takes. Those five foolish virgins ran out of oil before the Bridegroom came because they were not prepared to wait for an unexpected time (Matthew 25:5, 8). They were much like those stony ground hearers of Matthew 13:21, who “endures only for a while.” But when the Lord comes unexpectedly, like the Bridegroom coming at midnight, they will be caught unprepared (Matthew 25:6, 10-12).
The lesson of Matthew 25:9 is so important! No one else can be prepared for you. Only you can make the necessary preparations for yourself. Only you can live the steadfast Christian life that will find you watching and waiting for the Lord’s return. The picture of the five foolish virgins begging to be let in after it was already too late is a tragic scene (Matthew 25:11-12). Make sure you’re not one of those left outside to face condemnation when the faithful are taken in by the Lord (cf. Matthew 24:40, 41, 51).