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. “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.”
(Matthew 22:1-14 ESV)
Yesterday we read the beginning of a parable which revealed the current status of Israel’s heart towards God and also revealed what the future held for the Jews and the Gentiles. Today the parable concludes with a scene in which the king notices a man who had no wedding garment.
The implication here is that everyone was wearing a wedding garment except this man. Since none of the guests were expecting to attend the wedding having been invited at the very last minute, it’s unlikely they provided their own garments to wear to the wedding. Not to mention they were the poorest of society.
Back then there was a tradition when a king held a great feast he would provide not only food and drink but also robes for his guests to wear. This particular invited guest refused to wear the royal robe provided by the king.
Nevertheless, the king kindly gives the man a chance to correct his error in judgment, even calling him “Friend”. But notice the man was speechless – he couldn’t even come up with an excuse as to why he wasn’t wearing the garment. So he was thrown out of the feast.
Like all parables, this one has implications for us today. This man thought he could come into the king’s presence on his own terms. He was proud and self-willed.
Similarly, none of us can come to God on our own terms. We cannot offer up our own righteousness as credentials for getting into heaven because we have no righteousness [Ecclesiastes 7:20; Matthew 7:21-23; Romans 3:10 et. al].
Instead of being “clothed” in our own righteousness we must be clothed in the righteousness of God, which He graciously provides [Isaiah 61:10].
This is a great exchange. When Jesus died He took on our sin. In return He provided His righteousness for us to “wear” thus making anyone who believes in Him eligible for heaven [2 Corinthians 5:21].
But there are many people who call themselves Christians who have been told how to get to heaven – through repentance of sin and the acceptance of God’s forgiveness which is only available through Jesus [John 14:6] – but they refuse to comply because they think they are “good enough” as they are. They refuse to exchange their sin for Christ’s righteousness because they think they don’t need to.
Notice that this strategy will not work. God knows who these people are. In the end they will not be allowed into heaven because the heavenly standard is perfection – not even one drop of sin is allowed there.
God will first give these people chances to do things the right way. Upon being confronted by the king this man could have admitted his mistake, asked for forgiveness, and wore a robe. But he didn’t. He held onto his wicked pride and it cost him [Psalm 112:10].
Many are called. Many will respond. But only the few who respond on God’s terms will be chosen.
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