“So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.” (Matthew 22:12 NKJV).
In the book of Matthew chapter twenty-two the Lord Jesus gives the parable of the Wedding Feast. This parable features a certain King who prepared a marriage feast for his son and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come.
Again, the King sent out other servants, saying, “Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”‘ (Matt. 22:4 NKJV).
But again, those who were invited made light of the King’s call and went their own ways, one to his own farm, and another to his business (Matt. 22:5).
Sadly, not only did those who were invited to the King’s son wedding continually turned down the King’s invitation, they also seized the King’s servants sent to them, treated them spitefully, and killed them (Matt. 22:5).
How did the King respond to their wickedness?
The Scripture reveals: “But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” (Matt. 22:7 NKJV).
Moreover, the King said to his servants, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. ‘Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.” (Matt. 22:8-9 NKJV).
As instructed, the King’s servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
But, when the King came in to see the guests he saw a man among the guests who did not put on a wedding garment. So, the King confronted him, asking, “How did you come in here without a wedding garment?”
The man was speechless, having no just reason or excuse for not having on a wedding garment.
Consequently, the King commanded his servants, saying, “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 22:13 NKJV).
The Lord Jesus concluded the parable, saying, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14 NKJV).
What are the spiritual truths or lessons to learn from this parable?
Let us examine some of them.
First, God is the King in the parable who prepared a marriage feast or wedding for His son. The Lord Jesus Christ is the King’s Son for whom the feast was prepared (Rev. 19:7).
The Jews, the children of Israel, are those who the King first invited to His Son’s feast, but who continually declined the King’s invitation, and also seized, maltreated and killed the King’s servants sent to them (Matt. 23:29-34, Luke 11:49).
The King’s servants are the prophets and apostles of God sent to the children of Israel to call them to repentance. The Gentiles (non-Jews nations) are the latter guests invited and brought to the wedding from the highways (Matt. 8:11-12).
Second, the wedding garment represents the righteousness of the saints.
The Scripture reveals: “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Rev. 19:8 KJV).
What is the righteousness of the saints?
This is the gracious bestowment of God on all those who put their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. This is why the Scripture refers to it as “the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 9:30).
Sadly, like the guest who did not put on the wedding garment the King had graciously provided for all his guests but clung to his filthy rag, there are many religious folks in the world today who having rejected God’s gift of righteousness available to all men through faith in Jesus Christ are clinging to their own self righteousness (filthy rag) as a means or basis of having a right standing before God.
Our human or self righteousness which is based on the works of the law is absolutely insufficient and incapable of earning and securing for us a loving and intimate relationship with God, or a right standing before God, or God’s favour and blessing. Why?
Because it is imperfect, filthy and stinking in God’s sight!
The Scripture states: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” (Isa. 64:6 NKJV).
God’s righteousness (the wedding garment) is available to all men as a gift. As a gift, it is absolutely free, and can only be received by pure faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross (2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 2:8-9).
It is either you receive God’s righteousness (the wedding garment) by faith alone in Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the Cross, or you cling to your own righteousness (filthy, stinking rag) by the works of the law. You cannot have both!
The Scripture states: “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.” (Rom. 9:30-32 NKJV).
Many religious zealots today are not having on the wedding garment, not because they don’t acknowledge the Lord Jesus and what He did on the Cross, but because they are unwilling to trust absolutely in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross. They are still striving to keep the law as a means of obtaining salvation, favour, or blessing from God.
Paul said concerning Israel, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 10:1-4 NKJV).
Lastly, without putting on the wedding garment (God’s righteousness) received by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work of redemption on the Cross, you cannot escape the judgement or wrath of God at the close of the ages.
The Scripture states: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.” (Heb. 2:3 NKJV).
According to the parable of the Marriage Feast, the guest without the wedding garment was judged and condemned outrightly. There was no room for mercy. He received no second chance.
The King commanded, “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 22:13 NKJV).
What is awaiting all those who refuse to receive God’s free gift of righteousness through pure faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the Cross is a severe judgement of God (Heb. 10:28-29).
Beloved, what is your excuse today for not receiving and putting on the wedding garment (God’s righteousness) that God has graciously made available for you through Jesus Christ?
Like the self-righteous man in the parable of the Marriage Feast who refused to exchange his filthy rag (self righteousness) for the King’s wedding garment (God’s righteousness) was speechless when he stood before the King without his wedding garment, you also will be speechless, without any excuse, when you stand before the King of kings on the day of Judgement.
As seen in the Parable, it takes you having on your wedding garment (God’s righteousness) to dine, fellowship, and reign with the King in this life and in eternity.
The Scripture states: “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)” (Rom. 5:17 NKJV).
Many believers today are not reigning in this life because they are not always wearing, putting on, or clinging to God’s righteousness which they have received through faith in Jesus Christ.
You cannot enjoy God’s blessings constantly or incessantly in this life on the basis of your performance, self righteousness or good works, but only on the basis of your faith in Jesus Christ and His perfect work on the Cross.
This is why Apostle Paul’s resolution and pursuit in life was to be found always in Christ, “not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” (Philip. 3:9 NKJV).
Friend, make it also your resolution and pursuit today to be found in Christ, having on always your wedding garment – the righteousness which is from God by faith.
The price you will pay in this life and in eternity for not having on you the wedding garment (God’s righteousness) is too enormous.
If you die without receiving and putting on your wedding garment (God’s gift of righteousness by faith alone in Jesus Christ), your judgement will be the same as the guest without the wedding garment in the Parable.
On the day of judgement, the King will simply command: “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 22:13 NKJV).
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for making the wedding garment (Your own righteousness) available to me as a gift through the Lord Jesus Christ. I receive it by faith today, acknowledging and confessing Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour, in Jesus’ name. Amen.