Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. - Matthew 25:1-13
Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. - Luke 12:35-38
Ten Virgins (Biblical)
In this parable, ten virgins await the coming of the bridegroom. At last the wedding party arrives and the virgins light their lamps to go out and meet their friend. But because of the late hour five of their lamps have run dry. These foolish virgins rush to purchase more oil, but by the time they return the wedding party is gone and the door locked.
We are the virgins in the parable awaiting the return of the Savior. The oil is symbolic of our personal righteousness, ®bought® through a lifetime of service and faith. In preparing to paint this parable, I found ten women to play the virgins. I told them of an article I had read years earlier that described a small earthen vessel worn around the wrist that the wise virgins might have used to carry their oil. I then gave five of the women one of these vessels and explained it was time for them to join the wedding party.
As they separated, I noticed that they were crying. When I asked them why, one woman explained, ®I never understood that those five who were wise were leaving behind their friends and their sisters. It breaks my heart to think that they won't be with us.®
I painted that moment as these friends parted. One with her oil gathered from a life of selfless service; and the other adorned in beautiful jewelry, yet with no oil, having spent her life overlooking those things that mattered most. I included a mermaid, a symbol of temptation, and a watch in the shape of a heart to remind us that we can tell what we love by what we give our time to. I set the watch to midnight to remind us that the Lord is almost here. As we wait for the Savior, may we be ever watchful that our lamps, and the lamps of those we love, never run dry.