The Parable of the Wedding Feast
Matthew 22:1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 â€œThe kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, â€˜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.â€™ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, â€˜The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.â€™ 10 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.
11 â€œBut when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, â€˜Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?â€™ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, â€˜Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.â€™ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.â€
There are many things that could and should be said about this parable. I just want to focus on one aspect in this short post â€“ the wedding garment.
Because it is not explicitly stated by the text and because most of us who read this parable are not aware of first century Jewish culture (the context in which this parable was given), we miss something that would have needed no explanation to those who heard Jesus. In the ancient world it was expected that when a king invited guests to a wedding, he (the king) would provide the wedding garments. For anyone to show up to the wedding in something else, it means that he REJECTED what the king had provided. It wasnâ€™t just that he did not have enough righteousness to enter the wedding; it was an act of defiance and the ultimate insult to the king. Until I understood this, I thought that in all honesty, the kingâ€™s actions were more than a little over the top; an over-reaction, if you will. Yet such is certainly not the case when we understand what was really going on here. The man was in absolute defiance of the king when he came wearing something of his own choosing.
What a parallel this is to the righteousness of Christ. All we bring to the wedding is our tattered and polluted, sin stained garments, yet in accepting the invitation to come, we are given the gift of the most ultimate wedding attire imaginable. In biblical terms this is a righteousness that is perfect, that has never known sin, the very righteousness of Christ.
Paul wrote, â€œFor 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..â€ (Phil 3:8, 9)
The fate of the man in this parable is indeed haunting as he is thrown out into outer darkness (the picture of hell). Yet what else could be the fate of One who rejects the perfect righteousness of the Savior?
In contrast, those at the wedding can say with Isaiah, â€œI will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult 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 like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.â€ (Isaiah 61:10)
Who clothed me?
Soli Deo Gloria