The banquet had ground to a halt. The man who had been singled out was ashen-faced and speechless. The host, father of the groom and a very important man, had singled him out causing the room to fall to a hush.
“Friend,” the host had asked, “how did you get in here without wedding clothes?”
Every eye turned upon the man who stood facing the gracious but stolid host. A defiant flush burned up the man’s neck and across his face replacing the grey pallor. He opened his mouth to retort but not a sound came out.
Looking out at the crowd of guests he could see he was out of place. Everyone wore splendid clothes of silk and satin, Egyptian cotton and Argentan lace, tulle and taffeta and tweed. Every outfit had been provided by the host in the receiving room, wedding favours of the most exclusive and unequaled kind. But this man had not come in through the grand arch-covered gates. He had slipped in through an open side door, drawn by the flickering lantern-light highlighting a table-full of magnificent wedding gifts. But he had been caught—his gig was up. In a word, the party crasher was dressed down, parceled up and sent packing.
Matthew records Jesus telling this parable to a large group of people who had yet again surrounded Him, longing to hear words of wisdom that would give hope for their weary down-trodden lives. As always, the dictatorial religious leaders were hanging about keeping surveillance on the scene. They wanted only to catch Jesus saying something to justify their arrest of Him.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son,” Jesus had begun the story. The parable had allowed Him to communicate to his listeners truths about God’s design for humanity. The religious leaders understood. Jesus had revealed them as the sort who would be escorted not into but out of God’s kingdom banquet. “For many are invited, but few are chosen,” Jesus had ended His parable. Words like these would eventually bring about His execution, but not today. God had other tasks for Him to complete first.
As we hear this parable recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 22, we see the focus of the story is on the ‘wedding clothes’ the guests were wearing. In absence of these a man is excluded from the great heavenly wedding banquet. There is no excuse for attending the banquet without the host-provided garments. What is it about the clothes that is so important?
We are helped in understanding the allegory of the clothes by other references in Scripture:
“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness…” (Isaiah 61:10).
“…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ…” (Philippians 3:9).
“Then each of them was given a white robe and they were told to wait a little longer” (Revelation 6:11).
Our own attempts to be ‘good enough’ for God, for entering His presence, for being part of His eternal kingdom are cast away “like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Instead, a ‘robe’ of righteousness is the only garment necessary and available to allow us access into the great banquet of community with God.
These verses picture Jesus’ perfect sinlessness being accredited to those who entrust their eternal future to Him. The truth permeates Scripture; it’s the classic rags to riches story, the prince to pauper transfer of apparel, birthright and privilege we thought was only found in fairy tales. But this story is for real. Saying we are righteous in God’s eyes is not a matter of being ‘holier than thou’—only Christ is truly that; it’s a matter of realizing we are totally incapable of being good enough on our own—we need Christ’s salvation.
So today, as we dress for the day, let’s remember to accept Christ’s provision of His robe of righteousness to be our spiritual garment. There’s a banquet waiting; who wouldn’t want to be dressed and ready for the grandest celebration ever held?
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons; Silar; [[File:The ZORA Folkdancegroup of Mohács in Hungarian traditional ethnic costume, 2008 Wisła 01.JPG|thumb|The ZORA Folkdancegroup of Mohács in Hungarian traditional ethnic costume, 2008 Wisła 01]])