The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (Martin Wiles’ Lessons for Children and Youth)


Scripture Reference: Matthew 25:1-13

Memory Verse: Acts 1:11

Children at this age may or may not be familiar with the phrase, “Second Coming of Jesus. The lesson objective is first to familiarize children with the Second Coming but also to emphasize how important it is for them to be ready to meet Jesus when he returns. Getting ready involves trusting Christ as their Savior primarily, but also involves living a life of obedience to his commands. Remind children that Jesus tells us nobody knows when he will come, but there are signs we can look for. The most important thing is not trying to figure out when he will come but being ready when he does.

How many of you have ever been to a wedding? Have any of you ever been in a wedding? (Give children time to tell about their experience.)

How many of you have ever been on a long trip—perhaps a vacation—and asked your parents: “How much longer before we’ll be there?” or “Are we there yet?” (Let children share their experiences.)

Today we’re going to read a story about a wedding and see how Jesus used this story to teach about his Second Coming.

Let’s say our memory verse together. “Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven” (Acts 1:11 NLT).

Tell children the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids:

Ask: How many of you know who the following people are in a wedding: bride, groom, bridesmaids, and groomsmen?

In our culture, weddings normally last a couple of hours at the most. Of course, there will be a rehearsal—usually the night before the wedding—but the wedding itself is relatively short. This wasn’t true when Jesus lived. Wedding celebrations could last as long as a week. It was a big party with a lot of food to eat and beverages to drink. A lot of money was spent.

On the day of the wedding, the groom would go to the bride’s house for the actual ceremony. When this was over, the bride, groom, and everyone else who had attended and returned to the groom’s house where a great feast took place.

Jesus tells about ten bridesmaids who went out to join the procession of people returning to the groom’s house. The wedding was already over, and they were hoping to join the procession of people going to the groom’s house for the big celebration.

Remember there weren’t electric lights in Jesus’ day, so people had to use oil lamps to see. It was dark as the bridesmaids waited on the groom and all the other people. Jesus says five of them were wise and the other five were foolish. The five foolish ones were foolish because they didn’t take any extra oil for their lamps.

Reflection: Have you ever run out of something because you didn’t plan? What if you were on a long hike and ran out of food and water because you didn’t take enough along with you? How would you feel? In what other situations do you think planning is important?

All of the bridesmaids fell asleep as they waited on the groom and bride.

Reflection: Have you ever had to wait a long time for something? Maybe it was a toy or video game you wanted but your parents didn’t have the money to buy it. How did having to wait make you feel? Have any of you lived far away from your relatives and only got to see them once or twice a year? How did you feel when you knew they were on the way to see you?  Why is waiting on something we really want to happen difficult?

 Around midnight, someone shouted that the groom was coming soon. The bridesmaids woke up and lit their lamps. But as they waited, the oil in the lamps burned out. Five of them had extra oil to put in their lamps, but the other five did not. When they asked the ones with extra oil to let them borrow some of their oil, they were told they didn’t have enough to share. The ones who had enough for themselves suggested the others go to town and buy some for themselves.

While they were gone, the wedding procession came. The five who had extra oil joined the crowd of people and went to the marriage celebration. The other five were left behind. When they arrived at the groom’s house, they banged on the door and asked him to let them in. He told them he didn’t know them and wouldn’t open the door.

Reflection: Have you ever been left out of something? Maybe you weren’t chosen for a team or a part in a play. Maybe your teacher at school didn’t select you for something you really wanted to do. How did it make you feel? Are we sometimes left out because we don’t do the hard work of preparing? Perhaps you didn’t make the ball team because you didn’t work hard enough.

Jesus ends the story by saying, “So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return.” Jesus can come back at any time.

Reflection: How do you think we get ready for Jesus’ return? When you think about Jesus coming back, how does it make you feel? Are you excited or scared?


“BE PREPARED” RUN: Tell children that there are many pieces of paper around a designated area with ideas for BEING PREPARED for Christ to return. When the teacher says, GO… BE PREPARED.., the children will run and grab just ONE slip of paper each and run quickly back to the bulletin board or a large poster board on the wall and tape that paper to the board and then they may run around the room once again to find another and another and another, but each time, running the paper back and taping on the BE PREPARED board. This will be more colorful for the children if the pieces of paper are all different colors of construction paper. When the time is up and all the papers have been found and placed on the board, children can sit in a circle around the BE PREPARED board and read the slips of paper together and then tell today’s story. (Ideas for BEING PREPARED – praying, listening to God, obeying God, obeying parents, reading Bible, telling others, memorizing Bible verses, not swearing, not lying, visiting older people, Christian music, etc).

*Game courtesy of Carol Williams

Take Away:

Let each child tell one thing they learned from the story of the Ten Bridesmaids.

Martin Wiles
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