"So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding [hall] was filled with guests. "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. "So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast [him] into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
Matthew 22:10-13 NKJV
So did you watch the wedding this week? You notice I didn't specify which one. I suppose that there may be a few out there who are not aware that there was a royal wedding in England this past week, but in all honesty with the amount of coverage the event produced that would seem rather far fetched to believe. Weddings are one of the things that just about anyone can relate to, whether they have had their own, participated in another, or just attended as a guest. It also is one of those rare events which is universally considered to be a joyful, celebratory occasion where everyone has a good time. I also can't help but remember that Jesus' first miracle was at a wedding, where He (in my opinion) bailed out the father of the bride who came up a little short during the reception.
So with all the attention focused on weddings this week, I couldn't help but begin to think of the wedding we all are really looking forward to, and the one which many believe is about to occur. I'm speaking, of course, about the rapture of the church which is described by God as a wedding between His Son and all who have chosen to believe. As I began to think about it, with all the attention given to what people were wearing to the royal wedding, it was hard not to remember this parable by Jesus which deals coincidentally, with someone who tried to attend a wedding dressed “inappropriately”. Now I didn't hear of anyone at the royal wedding getting tossed for that, but the fact that this was a concern for Jesus made me want to look a little closer at this parable and see exactly what we are being told, and whether or not we should look at it as a warning about our future wedding.
In this parable, Jesus is explaining the situation that existed at that time concerning His appearing, and the rejection of the Jews to His message that He was their Messiah. As a result, His death and resurrection resulted in the creation of His church, consisting of all who would choose to believe in the salvation offered to us by His sacrifice. The invitation to the wedding is given to all, and all who choose to accept may attend. Yet in this story, Jesus tells us that someone tries to attend dressed “inappropriately”, and suffers the consequences. Exactly what does this mean, and how does it apply to us?
In Eastern cultures at that time, when you were invited to attend a wedding you didn't have to worry about going shopping for new clothes to wear because appropriate garments were provided for the guests by the one who gave the marriage feast. So all you needed to do was show up and put on the garment you were given, and your participation was guaranteed. In this account by Jesus, however, we find someone attending who apparently refused to accept the garment provided.
A close examination of the passage in the original Greek makes it clear that this was a deliberate act on the part of the guest to refuse the garment offered him. The reasons are unclear, but I think it is safe to assume he felt that his own garments were good enough so that he could refuse to wear what was provided. Obviously that was a very big mistake on his part, for when the King arrives and sees him, he is immediately put to the question. 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' Well, although he was “speechless”, the answer was pretty clear; he came in without one because he refused it at the door. The result is that he is bound hand and foot and tossed out into “outer darkness”.
The interpretation of this parable is not that difficult to understand. The wedding feast we are all invited to takes place in heaven before the throne of God. The garments provided for us are a symbol of His righteousness, which He has chosen to give us freely because our own righteousness is as “filthy rags”. The only question put to us here is are we willing to accept what is provided for us, or are we going to be stubborn and insist we are good enough to refuse?
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks [himself] with ornaments, And as a bride adorns [herself] with her jewels.
Isaiah 61:10 NKJV
But we are all like an unclean [thing], And all our righteousnesses [are] like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
Isaiah 64:6 NKJV
It makes no difference how “much” we do, how “good” a life we live, God makes it plain our righteousness will never pay the price of admission. It is only by accepting the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, that we obtain the garments that will allow us entrance to the wedding feast. Unfortunately one of Satan's greatest deceptions is that you can be saved by your own efforts. Just live by the principals you find in the Bible, do the very best you can, and you will be saved. The point Jesus was trying to make in this parable is that if you listen to that lie, your end will be the same as those who chose to totally reject the sacrifice of God in giving His Son to die for our sins.
My question to you today is are you dressed appropriately for the wedding? Have you personally told God that you accept the sacrifice He made for you, confess your sinfulness, and accept the invitation to the wedding that is to come? God has given the invitation to us all, and all we have to do in order to receive the appropriate garment to wear is to accept Jesus into our hearts, and begin to live for Him according to His Word. If you have never done this, I encourage you to do it now. Simply tell Him that you are sorry for trying to live your life on your own terms, and invite Him to come into your heart and to show you how to live life on His. By doing this, you will receive the “garment of salvation” that will allow you to attend the wedding. Which, by the way, could begin at any time.