A Series of the Parables

There is No Fence to Sit On

A Series of Contrasts in the Parables

Considering that I’m a teacher, I am kind of amazed how much I learn at school everyday. There is nothing like explaining content to seven and eight year old’s to force you to gain a basic and deep understanding of a subject. Long division? Who knew it was so organized and structured and perfectly easy? Not me when I learned it in middle school. The world of insects? Enough to bring high-pitched screams forth from my lips to simply see a picture of a creepy-crawly critter, but now absolutely fascinating when seen and taught from a biblical point of view!

The subject of the Bible is no different. In order to teach the truths of Scripture to children, you have to get to the basics, the very basics. I have been convicted and enlightened time and time again as I do this. Way back in early September we memorized the verse for our first Bible unit. It was:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24

September was a long time ago, yet almost daily, either myself or one of the students takes the concept for our current lesson and brings it back to the great and contrasting truth of Matthew 7:24-26. And when we do, we always end with – “There are two kinds of people in God’s view, wise and foolish. Which one are we going to be?” This is what brought the idea of A Series of Contrasts in the Parables into fruition.

The Bible is full of contrasts, and it is crystal clear that there is no fence to sit on when it comes to life-dependent truths of Scripture. There is one side, or the other, but no middle ground. There may be varying degrees within each of the two sides, but again, no room for fence sitting. The parables told by Jesus are a great starting place to see and grasp these contrasts.

First, let’s understand what a parable is – a parable is simply an earthly story with a heavenly meaning; a story told which connects the reality of day to day life to a real and significant biblical truth.

Since the wise and foolish in Matthew 7:24-26 inspired this series, there is no better place to learn more about these two contrasts than with the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, which can be found in Matthew 25:1-13.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but they wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here comes the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Matthew 25:1-13

Jewish weddings in ancient times were quite a celebration lasting as long as a week, and involved the whole town. The ceremony began when the bridegroom came to the house of the bride to take her to the wedding celebrations and feast. The bridesmaids, knowing it was almost time for the wedding to begin, would gather outside the bride’s house and wait for the groom to arrive. Since weddings usually began in the evening so more people could attend, the bridesmaids carried lamps with them to have light in the darkness.

Here we see the ten bridesmaids gathered, but we’re told right away that there is a difference between them – five were said to be foolish and five wise. What was the measure of such a claim? The five wise had a flask of oil along with their lamp so if the fire started to die down they could add more oil to it. They were prepared. What they did ahead of time, before the wedding feast, is what proved them to be wise. Though not noticeably different in any other way, the five foolish were deemed so because of what they did not do – bring oil for their lamp.

This passage in Scripture is a parable communicating clearly the events around Christ’s return, “The kingdom of heaven will be like…..”. and stresses the importance of being ready for His return with the warning, “Watch, therefore…..“. To hit the heavenly meaning of this story home, Jesus narrows in on two kinds of people – wise and foolish. What made one wise another foolish? John MacArthur says of this passage, “Wisdom and foolishness manifests itself in how prepared you are for Christ’s return.”

In the parable, the wise was the one who prepared for the wedding celebration. What makes one prepared, and therefore wise, in real 21st century day to day life? What we have done with Jesus, the beloved Son whom God sent because He so loved us, is what makes us prepared or not, wise or foolish. Whoever would believe upon Him and turn from their foolish ways will have eternal life (the wise). Whoever will choose their foolish ways instead of resting in Christ will perish (the foolish). (John 3:16)

If we hope to rely on someone else to help us at the last minute, this parable makes lear, that help will not be there for us. All that will be left for that person are these tragic words: ‘I do not know you.” And what heart-wrenching words they will be!

May we take heed to this warning graciously given to each of us from the lips Jesus himself:


Take heed.

You do not know when He shall return, so be ready.

We won’t get in on the good graces of anyone else. Only the wise will enter. The wise are not the intelligentsia, the rich or beautiful of our day. The wise are simply those who humbled themselves and gained a fear of the Lord – that is the beginning of wisdom. The wise person is the one who hears the gospel and obeys it (Matthew 7:24) – repents and believes. The wise person is the one who continues to hear the Word of God and continues to obey it, all the way to the end. The fool does none of these. Even though he or she may be in the ‘hearing’ of the gospel, they do not respond, nor obey; therefore, will find themselves not ready – unprepared.

There are only two kinds of people.

There is no middle ground for fence sitting.

Please, heed the Word and seek the Lord while He may be found. For that is the beginning of wisdom.

Are you prepared?

Take Up and Read:

Matthew 25:1-13

Matthew 7:24-29

Proverbs 1:1-7, 2:1-9

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