Yesterday, my husband and I were studying Matthew 22. It is a parable about a wedding. The king was preparing a wedding for his son. He sent his servants to invite people but they would not come. Again the king tried. He sent other servants with a message. “Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.” This was an attractive offer. The king had made all of the arrangements so all the people had to do was show up.
What was the response? Some of the people made light of the king’s invitation. They didn’t think the wedding was important so they went their ways–one to his farm and the other to his merchandise. One Bible commentator said that in this parable Jesus was giving an accurate description of how people respond to the Gospel. Many make light of it while others return to their business. They reject the message of salvation. They are not interested in what God has to offer. The rest of the invited guests mistreated the servants. They even killed them.
When the king heard about this, he was understandably angry. He sent his armies to destroy these murderers and burn up their city. The king dealt with these people justly because not only had they rejected his invitation but they also murdered his messengers. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.” It was a privelege, an honor for a king to invite anyone to his son’s wedding but those whom he invited didn’t see it that way. So, they were not worthy of his invitation. A Bible commentator puts it this way, “for how should those be deemed worthy to sit down at His table who had affronted Him by their treatment of His gracious invitation?”
The king is determined to have people at his son’s wedding. He sends his servants out into the streets and this time, the invitation is extended to as many as they could find. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. Now, the wedding banquet is full.
What my husband and I found interesting is the next couple of verses. “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.”
This man showed up to the wedding without a wedding garment. What is the wedding garment? It’s the garment or robe of righteousness that Christ has freely offered to all. In one of their study lessons, Cyberspace Ministry explains it this way: “The white robe, which is Jesus’ righteousness, is the wedding garment that each guest must put on before taking part in the marriage supper of the Lamb. In the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus indicated that, before the beginning of the feast, God will examine each guest, and cast out all those who won’t be clothed with this precious wedding garment.”
Isaiah 61:10 also mentions the robe of righteousness which the man at the wedding was not wearing. “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
This man was someone who had just come to the feast. He represents a member of a church who has all the appearance of righteousness but did not reflect someone who was wearing Christ’s robe of righteousness. The other guests were sinners saved by the righteousness of Christ.
It is interesting that no one else noticed that this man was not dressed for the wedding. It was the king who did. And when he called the man out on this, the man was speechless. He couldn’t say a word. My husband believes that the reason the man couldn’t say anything was he had all the opportunities to be truly covered in Jesus’ righteousness–to be a true follower and not one who professed to follow Him. Upon self examination I had to ask myself these questions, “Am I this person?” How can I find out if I am?” I have all the opportunities that this man had to be truly converted.
When the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” he was separating the tare from among the wheat or the sheep from the goats.
This parable draws a significant distinction between being a member of a church and being a sinner saved by the righteousness of Christ. They clearly aren’t the same thing, are they? Look at your life, your deeds, your actions, your words, your thoughts, your attitude toward friends and enemies. Do they reflect someone wearing Christ’s robe of righteousness or someone who has just come to the feast? (http://www.ssnet.org/qrtrly/eng/11b/less11.html).
We are instructed by God’s Word how to live according to His will and according to Jesus those who hear and do the Word of God are His brethren.
It is not enough to say that we follow Jesus. We have to reflect this in all areas of our lives. Remember our works will not save us. Going to church every week will not save us. It is how we live outside of church that makes the difference. God knows who His true followers are. Just as the king knew which guest(s) did not belong at the wedding so does God know which of followers do not belong in His kingdom.
Ellen G. White makes it clear that Christ’s robe represents the righteousness of Jesus which not only covers or justifies us but also changes us into His image and allows us to reflect His character in our lives. This is the vital difference between true and false followers. True followers are transformed and reflect Christ’s character. They have become a new creation. They have put off the old man.
Jesus said that “many are called, but few are chosen”. Many are invited to the wedding but few will be in the condition that will make them worthy to partake in it.