“Of course that guy is out,” we say of the wicked servant (Matthew 24:48-51), but the ten virgins cause us to think much more soberly. They cause us to think like the disciples. When Jesus warned that one of them would betray Him, none responded, “I know, that guy!” Instead they asked, “Is it I?” When we look at the five foolish virgins we are graciously startled that “be ready,” isn’t a message for them. “Watch!” isn’t a command for outsiders, but a message for those “inside” the church, for those who think they will be inside the feast, for those who think they are inside the ark of Christ protected from the flood waters of God’s wrath.
The wicked slave played a slave of the master, but proved himself to be an enemy. The wicked slave despises Jesus’ coming, whereas foolish virgins are deceived concerning his coming. The veneer is different, but the same kind of rotten wood meant for the fire underlies both. The wicked don’t sing, “We’ll Work till Jesus Comes,” but drunkenly belt, “We’ll Party while Jesus Is Gone.” They don’t so much believe in Jesus’ return as His absence. The virgins keep themselves pure for the party. They don’t party with the drunkards like the wicked slave, but they don’t party for the wrong reasons. Underneath all the religiosity is still a heart that loves something else.
To illustrate let’s switch back from the wedding entourage to the bride herself, for that is what the ten virgins show us. Theologians speak of the visible and invisible church. The visible church is the church as man sees it, wheat and tares. The invisible church is the church as God sees it. In other words, there is the church as she appears, and the church as she truly is. The reasons we have ten virgins instead of one bride is to prevent this metaphor from making the bridegroom sinful by polygamy, or from getting weird with a bride with split personalities and then further from being gruesome as the bridegroom splits his bride in two keeping only the desirable part. Jesus has one true bride and some girls are getting all dressed up for nothing. Many a bride have been ecstatic on their wedding day for it to be borne out later that their joy had nothing to do with the bridegroom. She loved the idea of herself of being married, or of stability, or of status, or an idea of her husband that was not her husband. But Jesus’ true bride is no gold digger, no trophy-husband seeker, no self-glorifying status seeker. She does not think that the day of His return is her day, but rejoices that it is all about Him.
The Bridegroom is no fool. Fools can fool others, even themselves, but they cannot fool Him.