Thoughts for the Day

Sunday, 12th November 2023: The oil of the Spirit

Holy Spirit Matthew 25 Parable Jesus Second Coming

Reading : Verses from Matthew, Chapter 25

Wise and foolish virgins

“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 the 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 is 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. Afterwards 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.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


As we move towards Advent and a time of reflection before Christmas, we look again at the parable of the ten bridesmaids (see 1 September 23) and at our need to prepare for the second coming of Christ. The ten bridesmaids, miss out on celebrating the arrival of the bridegroom with a lighted procession because they have forgotten the spare oil for their lamps.

There are about 13 different kinds of oil mentioned in the Bible and they are used for many purposes, for example: Hyssop (cleansing), Sandalwood (embalming), Cassia, Balsam (healing), and Rose of Sharon (anointing). But when oil isn't specifically given a name it's almost always referring to the Holy Spirit, especially where change is to occur.

So now we can decode the different elements of this parable. Historically Jews saw the 'bridegroom' as God, and the 'bride' as the 'nation'. Jesus tweaks this notion a little, and Christians understand this parable as:

  • The bridegroom is Jesus.
  • The bride is the Church.
  • The oil is the Holy Spirit.
  • The foolish bridesmaids are those not filled with the Spirit and ready to welcome Jesus.
  • The wise bridesmaids are those filled with the Spirit and ready to welcome Jesus.

Should Jesus return "on our watch", we need to be Spirit filled and ready to greet Him!


O Holy Spirit,
the Fire, Breath and Oil of God,
enable us to see that we must
learn to be ready and waiting
for the coming of the Bridegroom
who is our Lord Jesus Christ,
so that should He come in our lifetime
He will not find us sleeping in sin
but awake and ready for His return.

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