As a minister, I’ve done quite a few weddings. One of the many things I’ve observed is that the ceremony is about the bride and groom. It’s their day. Any impertinence or rudeness by a wedding guest isn’t going to be tolerated for long by other wedding guests. If it continues, the groom may eventually deal with it because he wants this day to be special for his bride.
In my Bible reading this morning, I came across the parable Jesus told in Matthew 22:1-14. A parable is an easily understood story that illustrates and helps to explain a truth that isn’t so easily understood. So, we have to reflect upon the story and ask the question, “What principle is Jesus trying to get across here?”
In Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus tells a parable about a wedding with a powerful principle. Listen as He tells the story:
“And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, “Tell those who are invited, ‘See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ ” But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.” And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.’ “
To the Bible student who has a growing understanding of God’s Word, it becomes clear what principle Jesus was illustrating in this parable. He was the King, the indifferent and militant group were the Jews, and the servants were the prophets. For millennia, He had sent prophets to the people of Israel to call them to repentance and come into relationship with Him … but they refused. The Old Testament prophetic books make it clear just how frustrated the prophets were. They were busy calling the Jews into relationship with God but “God’s chosen people” often and consistently refused the offer.
So, others were invited (see Acts 18:6; Romans 2; etc.). Those who spoke for God were to go out into the roads, wherever people may be found, and invite others. Those “others” were non-Jews, or what the Bible calls “Gentiles.” Because the Jews rejected the amazing offer to be a part of the divine wedding feast and enjoy relationship with the God of all Creation, we have now been invited. Forgiveness, salvation, and Heaven are offered to you and me!
But, the parable doesn’t end there. There is one more point that Jesus wants to get across.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
What’s Jesus saying here? Is this guy just a wedding-crasher? If so, why does the king treat him so harshly?
When we understand a little bit of the 1st century Jewish culture, we come to realize that wedding garments were to be worn at weddings. You didn’t just wear whatever you had on. You had to wear clothing that was appropriate for the occasion.
The man in Jesus’ story wasn’t wearing a wedding garment. So, what’s going on?
When we look back at the story, we realize that this man had joined a group of wedding guests who were simply walking along the roadways when they received their invitation. They could not possibly have had a wedding garment with them. Their invitation to the wedding had occurred when they least expected it. So, we can safely assume that the wedding garments they were wearing were provided by the king when they got to the wedding.
And, yet, we have a man who isn’t wearing a wedding garment.
This seems to point out that while all of the other last-minute guests showed up and put on the wedding garments that were given to them, this man must have refused to wear the one offered to him. At a wedding, he would have stuck out like a sore thumb … and he did it on purpose. He refused to wear the king’s garment.
So, what does this illustrate?
It points to someone who claims to be within the family of God, who claims to be saved, who mingles with those who will one day inhabit Heaven, … but he isn’t wearing Jesus’ robe of righteousness.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—”
This man had never been truly saved. He believed that he could earn Heaven on his own merit and rejected the offer of forgiveness that Jesus provided on the cross. And while he may have appeared to those around him to be on his way to Heaven, he was really on his way to Hell (Matthew 22:13).
Friend, every single person (except for Jesus) who has walked on the face of this earth has sinned. We have broken God’s laws – repeatedly.
We have lied. We have been angry. We have lusted. We have refused to forgive. We have not honored our parents. On and on this list could go.
So, we are lawbreakers. We stand before a holy Judge guilty as charged.
And yet God invites us into relationship with Him.
But it requires that we reject the notion that we can please Him with our own supposed goodness. To please God, we must be clothed in the goodness, the righteousness, of Jesus.
All it takes to get that righteous wedding robe on ourselves is to trust in Jesus. Realize that He died on the cross to pay the sin debt of every single person who will believe in Him. And then trust in Him. Rest in what He did for you.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
If you have any questions about this, please feel free to send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post a comment below. I would love to help you to make this greatest decision you will ever make.