AT THE CLOSE of a long talk with the disciples, on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave three parables. The first parable was to show that his followers must watch and be ready for his sudden coming. It is “The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids.”
“The coming of the Lord in his kingdom,” said Jesus, “will be as when ten girls, the bridesmaids at a wedding, took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom with his friends, and go with them to the house of the bride. Five of these girls were foolish and thoughtless, and five of them were wise. The foolish young women brought their lamps, but never thought that they would need more oil to fill their lamps again. But each of the five wise girls carried a small flask of oil to refill her lamp when needed.
“As the bridegroom, the young man who was to be married, was late in coming, the ten bridesmaids grew sleepy, and finally all fell asleep. They slept until midnight, when suddenly they were awakened by the shout, `Here comes the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
” Then all the girls got up and began trimming their lamps. The careless, foolish ones said to the wise and thoughtful ones:
“Come, let us have some of your oil. Our lamps are going out.’
“But the wise bridesmaids answered them, `No, each one of us has brought just enough oil for her own lamp. If we should divide our oil with you, then none of us would have enough to keep her lamp burning and we should all be in the dark together. You must go to the store and buy for yourselves!’
“So, in the middle of the night, while the bridegroom was coming, those foolish women had to go to the town, and wake up the oil-sellers and buy more oil. While they were on their way buying oil, the bridegroom and his party came; and the bridesmaids who were ready went with them to the marriage-supper. When they were all inside the room, the door was shut to keep out strangers who had no right to enter.
“After a time, the rest of the bridesmaids came and found the door shut. They called out to the bride-groom:
‘Oh, sir, oh, sir ! Please open the door for us!’ “But he answered them, ‘I tell you, I do not know who you are!’
“So,” said Jesus, “I say to you, keep on the watch, and be ready at all times, for you do not know either the day or the hour when your Lord will come.”