TO CHEW ON: " 'But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man who there who did not have on a wedding garment.' " Matthew 22:11.
Like so many of Jesus' parables, this one is full of eternal truth goodies. In a way it's like the gospel in 12 verses. Here's how I understand it:
The King's son's arranged marriage is God's relationship with His chosen people Israel.
The king's servants are the prophets who invited Israel's citizens over and over to join the wedding celebration, i.e. live in obedience to God's laws and with a right heart attitude.
The people who were invited in the story treated the king's invitation as casually as Israel did the prophets' repeated calls to repentance and revival. Just as the people in the story ended up killing the king's messengers, so too Israel mocked, tortured, and even murdered some of its prophets.
The people of the highways and " all who they found both bad and good" are the individuals from all over the earth who are not Jews—us Gentiles from "all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues" (Revelation 7:9)—who now have an invitation to God's party.
It was a free invitation for the people in the parable, but apparently a special wedding garment was given to each guest before entry into the banquet hall. What is the meaning of that garment?
- Paul talks about our earthly bodies clothed in life—the clothes of immortality—life forever (2 Corinthians 5:3).
- He also talks about putting on the new man—clothes of "true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).
- The clothes of the "new man" are not only for after this life but for now. They come in styles of "…tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…" (Colossians 3:10,12).
- In Revelation John sees these clothes as white and with this outfit comes a new name (Revelation 3:4).
- This garment needs to be worn at all times so the guests are prepared when the master drops in (Revelation 16:15).
- God's subjects will wear this outfit in heaven, the "fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." And guess what the heavenly occasion is? The Marriage Supper of the Lamb, coming full-circle, right back to our parable (Revelation 19:8,9)!
The sobering ending to Jesus' story—the guest with no wedding garment being "cast into outdoor darkness" —tells us that God's invitation has one simple condition: the need to exchange our rags (Isaiah 64:6) for the garment of salvation that God gives: "For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness" - Isaiah 61:10. It too is free to us. But we must put it on.
PRAYER: Dear God, this Thanksgiving Sunday I thank you for an invitation to Your party, and the clothes of salvation that You provide. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.