Each sinner walks through this life naturally clothed in the filthy rags of their sin. In order to overcome that we need to be stripped clean and have Christ’s robe of righteousness placed upon us if we expect to have victory over sin. It is not our work to place the robe upon ourselves, we must surrender ourselves to Jesus and He will do the work of cleaning us up and fitting us to receive His righteousness. The parable of the wedding feast shows us that each one is invited to be guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb and in order to be there we must be clothed in the robe of Christ’s righteousness.
Why Should I Go?
Have you ever received an invitation to an event that you really did not want to go to? I think perhaps we all have. Maybe it was a party or perhaps it was wedding or a shower of some sort. I can remember the first time I was invited to a baby shower. I would have rather been digging ditches than sitting around while a bunch of women “ah” and “oh” over baby stuff. Under normal circumstances I would have flat out refused to go. The problem was that my buddy whose wife was having the baby did not have the fortitude to stand up to his wife and tell her that he was not going. You see if he’d had the nerve to take a strong stand then me and the couple of other guys who went could have easily gotten out of going. Of course because he was going all of us other guys had to hear about how sweet he was for wanting to be there to support his wife. We let him hear about it but we still had to go. The strange thing about it was that it was not that bad. Yes, there was a lot of gushing over the clothes and everything else, but I have had to endure much worse things for sure. I don’t know if that one event stripped away my masculinity or what but I can tolerate showers or any other event now.
A long, long time ago there was invitation extended to a group of people. This group of people had been chosen to perform a very special task by their King. In fact, their task was to tell the world about the King’s Son who was to come and rid the world of sin. At first the people were excited about their mission and they faithfully-for some parts-sought to do the will of their King. But when the King finally sent His Son the people rejected Him outright for the most part. In fact, they not only rejected Him, they had Him killed. They worked feverishly to have Him hung upon a cross of shame and torture.
A Little Child Shall Lead Them
When Jesus, the King’s Son, was on this earth He sought desperately to win back the hearts of the people to God. Jesus went about His ministry attempting to correct and encourage those who for so long allowed the maxims of men to prevail over the mandate of God.
I find it so interesting that even at the age of twelve Jesus was filled with greater wisdom than the Jewish teachers because His education was based entirely on the Word of God and not the traditions of men. In Luke 2:47 we read how the crowd gathered in the temple was amazed at Jesus’ understanding and His answers. In fact, Jesus was forced to speak out openly against the rulers of His day because they esteemed the traditions of men above the commandments of God. If we look Mark 7:8 we find this quite clearly. Christ even goes on to say to them that they are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep their traditions. The same thing happens today in churches around the world. Many churches have elevated tradition above the Word of God in order to place themselves in equality with God.
Desire to Save
When you consider the life and ministry of Jesus you will fast recognize that He sought to reach out to the leaders of His day. He surely wanted them to repent of their ways and to rejoice in His coming: a coming that was to pave the way for men of all ages to be saved for eternity with God.
Over and over Christ sat before them all. Day in and day out He taught openly and honestly calling each to turn from the evil in their lives. Of course one of the ways that he sought to teach and train them was through parables.
I find it very interesting to read that Jesus did not speak to the crowds or the Jewish leaders unless He used parables (Matthew 13:34). Transition to the Text As we consider that Jesus taught in parables, let us now turn our minds to one of those parables where Jesus speaks of that special invitation the King of kings had given so long ago. **Read Matthew 22:1-4**
As with all the parables that Jesus taught, this one too is full of rich symbolism. Let’s take a few moments and decipher, if you will, some of the symbols He uses here. First we see that the King is holding a wedding feast for His son. Weddings in Bible times and Middle Eastern culture were not one day events. They were events that lasted for several days. According to the custom of the day Jesus speaks of this wedding feast. All who heard this story would know the routine of a great many being invited to the wedding feast. Only a small group actually witnessed the wedding ceremony, but many were invited to celebrate afterwards.
Who Is Getting Married
Before we move forward we need to ask the question, “Who is getting married?” For whom is the feast? The Son is of course getting married, right? To whom is He to be married? Let’s look to the Bible and find out. Obviously the king in this story is God the Father and the son of the king is Jesus, the Son of God. Discovering the bride may be a little trickier to discover but the Bible gives us answers today.
In Matthew 25 we find the parable of the 10 virgins who await the coming of the bridegroom. We know that this parable also represents many things, but among them is the fact that Jesus is one day going to come again and take us to be with Him in heaven. So we have an indication that the people of God are the bride of Christ. Paul gives some support to this in 2 Corinthians 11:2 where he says that he has betrothed us to one husband so that he can present the church as a chaste or pure virgin to Christ.
So we have Jesus and Paul both telling us that the church is the bride of Christ. But not so fast, let’s look at another passage in Revelation 21:9. **Read Revelation 21:9-ff**
Here we discover that bride of Christ, the Lamb, is the holy city, New Jerusalem. So what are we to make of these seemingly conflicting accounts? It is actually quite simple. When we realize that Jesus came to win this world back from Satan we can easily understand that the New Jerusalem is brought to this earth as a prize for Jesus as part of the victory celebration for Jesus overcoming sin and thereby overcoming Satan as ruler of this world. You see, the world was lost to Satan when Adam chose to sin and turn away from God. In the beginning Adam was given dominion over this planet (Genesis 1:26-28) but that was forfeited when Adam sinned. We see this in Job 1:6 when we are told that the sons of God came to present themselves to God and Satan came too. Why did he come? Satan came as the ruler of this planet because Adam had handed it over to him.
When Jesus won the victory for us at Calvary, He also won back this planet from Satan. Jesus succeeded where Adam failed. Yes, Jesus has not taken over what rightfully belongs to Him yet, but that day will come at the end of the thousand years. So when we read in Revelation 21:9 that the holy city is the bride of the Lamb we can understand that it is His bride in the sense that it will serve as the capital city of the center of the universe where Jesus will rule with the Father. What kingdom would be complete without subjects? So in the sense that the redeemed will live in the earth made new with Christ we too are married to Him, and the wedding feast in heaven will be a feast to commemorate the victories of Christ with those to whom He has also given victory over sin. This is a beautiful picture to me of the immeasurable love of Christ.
Back to the Feast
Now that we understand the feast a bit better, let us look at the guests. I think it is pretty easy to see that the original guests mentioned in the parable are a direct reference to the Jews. This is made even more apparent when you look at verse 15. The Pharisees went out to plot against Jesus because they understood that they were the guests being mentioned that rejected the invitation.
As I mentioned earlier, they were first invited to be the messengers of God to this world. They were chosen to be the light bearers to this planet darkened with sin. But in their zeal to be admired among men the focus turned from proclaiming the coming of the messiah to the world to attempting to appear pious and holy before men. That is why they placed their teachings and burdensome rules above the commandments and teachings of God.
Jewish Messianic Covenant
They had a long history of following God for a while then falling back into apostasy. The book of Judges gives us a clear picture of this cycle. God in His mercy even decided to give them an additional 490 years after bringing them out of exile.
We find this spelled out clearly in Daniel 9:24-27. God was more gracious to the Jews that we can ever imagine. He was patient, long-suffering, gracious, merciful, and tolerant of their wavering faithfulness. In this passage from Daniel we see that God wanted the Jews to get on track and do all that He had for them to do. He wanted them to put an end to sin in their midst, make atonement for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up the vision and prophecy, and anoint the most holy place. But they failed God and when they stoned Stephen in 34 A.D. they, much like Adam, forfeited their place as God’s chosen people and the gospel was then given to the Gentiles; which means other nations. In the parable Jesus makes direct reference to the fact the Jews have not fulfilled their mission for God as of that time and through this parable He predicts that they will not turn from their course of action. In Matthew 23:38 Jesus tells them that their house is left unto them desolate; meaning that they will have no inheritance in the kingdom of God.
From the Highways
Because the Jews failed to meet their obligations with the King, God was forced to give His invitation to the Gentiles Himself. We see this in the latter half of Jesus’ parable. ** Read Matthew 22:5-10** Not only do we see others being invited besides the Jews, but we see another prophecy that foretells the destruction of the Jews. Verse 7 is a direct reference to the then-coming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
At first the disciples had a hard time with the gospel going to the Gentiles. I would encourage you to read the account of Peter’s vision of the unclean animals that came down on a sheet to him. Much of the world sees this as a mandate to eat anything we please, but the vision in Acts 10 had nothing to do with food. The Lord was trying to tell Peter that the Gentiles were not to be viewed as unclean any longer and to take the gospel to them.
Our parallel in the parable is seen very clearly and I am very happy for this portion of the parable because I am not a Jew. I dare say that most of you here today are not Jewish in your heritage. We are Gentiles my friends and I praise God that we too have been invited to the feast. The King wants us to come into His feast and dine with His Son.
The Wedding Garment
Now let us look at the last and perhaps most important part of our parable. After the guests are assembled, the King comes in to look over the gathering. Upon looking around He discovers that there is one guest there who does not have on a wedding garment.
A couple of questions need to be asked. Why does the King come in and bother with looking at everyone’s clothes, who provides the garments, and why does everyone need a garment? Let’s look at the first one as to why the King came in to inspect the guests. We can see this clearly as an act of judgment. The King’s slaves were instructed to bring in anyone and everyone from the street and the King wanted to see who came. This is clearly an act of judgment upon the guests. While conducting this act of judgment the King discovers one who is not clothed properly. In the Bible clothing is used to represent character. We see this in many places. In Isaiah 64:6 we see that our righteousness is compared to filthy rags. In Job 29:14 it says that he put on righteousness and it clothed him. He says his judgment was a robe and a crown. This gives us insight to answer our second question: who provides the garments? If we, like Job, have to put on righteousness then we must be putting on the righteousness of someone else. That “someone else” is none other than Jesus and God. Jesus Himself told us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). If we are to seek His righteousness then we can clearly see that the garments for the feast must be provided by the King. For a guest to come in without the King’s garment is to show contempt toward the King and His requirements. This of course leads us to our third question: why does everyone need a garment. The reason that we all need a garment is because our garments, our righteousness are filthy rags remember? So we need those filthy rags, those dirty, sin-stained clothes to be taken away. We need to be washed clean of our sins and have the clean, bright, pure, character of Christ to be placed upon us so that we may be counted worthy to enter the feast. Not because of what we have done, but because of what Christ has done our behalf.
We have only to accept Him and live our lives in His service. When we hear the compassionate call of the Savior we should eagerly answer His call. o We should jump for joy that that we have been given the invitation to attend the wedding feast. o We should fall on our faces in worship of our Father God and praise Him for calling us too. o We should be supremely glad that we have an opportunity to live beyond the confines of this mortal existence o We should welcome the King’s inspection of our lives when we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When we are washed clean of our sins then it is only the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covers us, and that is all that will be seen in the judgment. The redeemed should welcome judgment because they belong to Jesus.
I do not want to focus here for too long, but I do want you to notice what happens to the one who refused to take the King’s garments. Just as we saw last week, the one who rejects Christ’s offer must suffer the penalty of their actions. We see the same here again this week. We see that code language that we saw last time. Those that reject Christ will be thrown into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
You may recall that outer darkness is code language for the second death mentioned in Revelation 20. It is code language for finding your place in the lake of fire. I do not mention this to scare you out of hell today friends; I mention this to remind you of the alternative to not accepting God’s love for you.
Wrap-up and Appeal Today, it is my desire that each of you here will choose to follow Jesus with all of your heart. It is my desire to see each of you at the wedding feast in heaven. There is no reason why anyone here today should miss out on heaven. I implore you to not wait to make a decision for Jesus. Be a Joshua today friends. Be willing to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” When you chose to serve Jesus above all others, then you too will be given the robe of Christ’s righteousness. You too will secure your place at the table of God in the kingdom of God. Why not let today be the last day that you serve self? Why not choose today in this moment to follow the Lord Jesus Christ all the way in every area of your life? I can promise you that when you do, disappointment will not be your lot. For to serve Jesus is truly have our souls satisfied.
MI March 7, 2009