The oil was there for the taking by all ten virgins, the bridal party. The 10 virgins symbolize the Church. Someone amply supplied the oil for the virgins to meet the Bridegroom who came at an hour no one suspected. The oil was given for that purpose. In that time, oil was used for three purposes
- for lamps, as in today’s Gospel
- for medicine, as we read that the Samaritan took care of the man robbed and beaten on the Jericho road by pouring wine and oil upon his wounds
- for the face to make it shine, as it is written, Psalm 104: 15 , the Lord gives to us,
“…wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
For lamps, the oil filled the lamps , medicine and the face,that is, for light, healing and joy. And oil was used f or special and unique purpose: the anointing with oil marked the investiture of the Kings of Israel, as Samuel anointed Saul and David as the Kings of Israel.Oil was administered by anointing. Remember that the title “Christ” means “anointed one”. Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew, Messiah. Behold, One is here who greater than the prophets! We read in Hebrews 1: 9:
8 But of the Son (Note: capital “S”) he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.
The preacher in Hebrews is citing Psalm 45. Psalm 45 is about the anointing of the King of Israel. The kings of Israel were to be filled as lamps, with the oil of the Holy Spirit, so to heal the Lord’s people with His Word and to make the face shine with joy in the presence of the Lord. But so many of the kings of Israel and Judah turned the hearts of Israel to false gods and immorality, personal and social and Israel went skipping into the utter and outer darkness. They did not serve the Lord but were dealers in falsehood. Now, comes the King, “Of the Son”, who alone is the true King, who reigns “anointed” “with the oil of gladness beyond your companions”. He was anointed beyond His companions, beyond the kings and prophets of Israel. As the prophets brought the Word of the Lord to Israel, so did Jesus Christ, but beyond, He is the Word made flesh. He would be anointed by the spit of Roman soldiers, His sweat anointed His body as he was flogged and as He bore the Cross, His tears were the anointing for the lost, His blood anointed His sacred head now wounded, with grief and shame bore down. He shed His blood not for His sins, for He had none, but ours and we are anointed in the Holy Spirit. The bridegroom died for His bridegroom, when no man heedeth, He interecedeth.
The wise virgins, when asked by the five foolish virgins, to give them some of there oil, could not. They would not have enough, the wise virgins responded. The noblest saint in Christ cannot believe for another person. All the supposed saints’ merits, accrued in some sort of heavenly bank account, cannot substitute for your heart’s pain and sin to lay hold of Jesus Christ in faith in His grace toward you. There is no substitute for the grace of God in Jesus, the anointed One. He gives us faith to fill our lamps with the oil of His gladness, His salvation for sinners, His forgiveness, which all the saints carried with them, as the Lord bore them. When after the delay of the bridegroom coming at the hour no one could guess, at midnight, the wise virgins took extra oil with them. They were thinking in joy for the coming of the bridegroom. He was delayed but they carried the oil that gave them light: the Anointed One, Jesus Christ. He gives His grace amply for the taking.
When the door is closed then, it is closed. As in the Great O Antiphon of Advent:
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death
When He comes, when the author comes on stage the play is over. The door was closed on the foolish virgins. So harsh! We might say. It is darkness for those who trust in themselves for salvation. When the 5 wise virgins said go into town to find oil, I have to ask where would they find oil merchants at midnight? Of course, none! And that’s the point. There is no substitute for the Lord’s mercy toward us, for there is no mercy in the devil, in sin and wickedness. There are dealers in the darkness and of the darkness who promise false gospels of prosperity, fame which is no more than idolatry. Amos said that the day of the Lord is darkness not light for those who follow false gods, thinking they do not need the oil of gladness in the Lord. Israel trusted in the mere doing of sacrifice and worship in the Temple to gain salvation in some sort of eternal barter system. Those who “…having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” There is no second chances in some 1,000 years reign of Christ after a so-called rapture. Here in this life unbelievers have a chance every minute of every day to look to the One who loved them and us all that He gave His life upon the Cross. Here in this life believers have a chance every minute of every day to look to the One who loved them and us all that He gave His life upon the Cross. So we can pray unceasingly.
He taught this parable that we may watch for His coming. He taught this parable that we be the wise Church, not the foolish church. The foolish church puts human opinions, theologies and the like center. The wise Church knows Who is the Center of the Church: Jesus Christ. He taught this parable for hope. For in this hope we were saved (Romans 8: 24). Hope is for us individually and together as His Body the Church. Our Lord’s parable is not for some eternal stat that 50% will be saved, 50% damned, in some sort of non-Biblical double predestination. He taught the parable of the virgins for us, His teaching is the Word of God, the Scriptures, “…which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ (2 Timothy 3: 15). He taught the parable that we be wise for salvation in Him, carrying the oil of faith in His Word of promise to us all. He taught this for hope in Him who soon after He taught this parable in the Temple would be cast out of Jerusalem to bear the hopelessness of death, yours and mine upon the Cross. Paul wrote we Christians grieve but as those who have hope. The hope is His salvation is for the soul and the body, that when He comes all the living and the dead, judged and saved in Him, will be caught up with Him as He leads us home, the new heavens and the new earth.
God’s law will wake us up with its terror over sin and God’s Gospel made us alive in Christ. Watchfulness for Christ Jesus and the Gospel of His death and resurrection is fourfold. As the fourfold Gospel is confessed in the Smalcald articles of the Lutheran Confessions:
We will now return to the Gospel, which not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin; for God is superabundantly rich [and liberal] in His grace [and goodness].
First, through the spoken Word by which the forgiveness of sins is preached [He commands to be preached] in the whole world; which is the peculiar office of the Gospel.
Secondly, through Baptism.
Thirdly, through the holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Fourthly, through the power of the keys, and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, 18:20: Where two or three are gathered together, etc
The mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren is for us to encourage each other in the oil of His forgiveness. We do mourn those who die but as those who have hope. We need to hear this word of forgiveness from each other in conversation and consolation. The fourfold means of the Gospel gives us the three fold gifts of the Gospel as signified by oil: light, healing and joy.
- God’s Word is light: His Law a light unto our path that may know His way and as Jesus is the Way, the only Way, we are led by Jesus the Anointed, the pioneer and perfector of our faith.
- His Word is healing and the balm of healing for broken and contrite hearts, which O Lord, you will not despise.
- His Word is the joy, of not only knowing the truth, but knowing He who knows us better than we do ourselves.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3: 20-21