Mat 22:1 Jesus also told them other parables. He said, Mat 22:2"The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. Mat 22:3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come! Mat 22:4 "So he sent other servants to tell them, 'The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!' Mat 22:5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Mat 22:6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them. Mat 22:7 "The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. Mat 22:8 And he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren't worthy of the honor. Mat 22:9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.' Mat 22:10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. Mat 22:11 "But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn't wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. Mat 22:12 'Friend,' he asked, 'how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?' But the man had no reply. Mat 22:13 Then the king said to his aides, 'Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Mat 22:14"For many are called, but few are chosen."
Don't you just hate being invited to a wedding with nothing to wear?
Being invited to a wedding when you have nothing to wear can be uncomfortable. You feel out of place. Or maybe you have a suit and tie but you hate to wear them because it is so stifling and it's something you haven't worn for years. Let's apply this thought to the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew and we'll see where it takes us. First, I would like to compartmentalize the parable and look at each section separately and more closely.
Preparation for the Feast [Matthew 22:2]
The feast is one that is being prepared by the King. The King is doing the preparation and only after it is ready does he send out his servants to notify those who were invited. But notice that they were already invited. The implication may be that they were supposed to know that they were invited and were simply waiting for the wedding feast day to arrive.
This could speak to the Jews who were already chosen (remember that Jesus is addressing the Pharisees with this parable) and knew about the wedding feast, but when the time came (The Messiah showing up in the personage of Jesus Christ) they weren't ready because they thought it was about making themselves "wedding worthy" rather than simply accepting the invitation, and the wedding garment, (Jesus Christ) when it came.
The Invitation [Matthew 22:3-4]
The feast is ready. The Kingdom of Heaven is open for the wedding celebration. The servants are sent out and given the message of the readiness of the wedding. This message is for the Jews who should already know that they are invited. Think of a wedding and how it works. Everyone gets an invitation, while those who are family might get an official invitation there is an expectation that they really already know that they are invited. Many of them have been asked to play a role in the wedding; bridesmaid, groomsman, usher, coordinator, etc. There is no question that they are invited yet they are still sent an official invitation. They, of all people, should be the most ready for the wedding day...
Burning the Invitation [Matthew 22:5-6]
Instead of welcoming the official invitation, they despise it and burn it.
Have you ever seen that horrible TV show Bridezilla's? It is one of those "reality" tv shows where they follow a young bride around as she prepares for her wedding. She, of course, is not a nice bride and ends up in fights with family and friends. Sometimes the family members become so angry about how the wedding is going to go that they end up refusing to come to the wedding.
Let's apply this to our wedding feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. I see the Jews, who are already a part of the family of God and even have the benefit of a merciful and loving wedding planner, become angry and murderous when the invitation comes. In general, a wedding invitation says, come on this day, wear this attire, and bring a date. They don't want to wear those types of clothes, they're not ready for the wedding, and they don't have a date. However, the Jews don't want to go to the wedding because it doesn't look the way that they want it to. They want to have a say in how the wedding guests should be dressed because they want to wear their own wedding garment. This is the problem with self made or man made religion. It see's God's invitation but instead of doing it His way, they despise Him ("...'the world' hated Me first..." John 15:18) and seek to do it their own way.
Make no mistake reader. God has a specific plan for how the wedding feast will be attended. It is specifically His way and His plan, because if it is done any other way "self" get's the credit instead of the one to Whom the glory belongs to. Let's continue. Things don't turn out too well for those who choose to do it their own way...
The King's Response [Matthew 22:7-8]
The family members have all despised the wedding preparation and the way they were invited. They have burned their invitations and have shown the Wedding Planner that they don't like the way He has prepared the feast. They have despised His wedding clothes and insisted that they be allowed to wear what they want to wear. They have kept themselves out of the wedding because they DID receive an invitation. Because of their treatment of the servants bearing the message (a message that isn't to their liking) the King has them all killed.
Key things to note here. They did get the invitation. They understood it. They did despise it to the point of murder. They were killed not because they tried to come into the wedding without an invitation, but because they despised and murdered the one making the invitation.
Joh 3:18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.Joh 3:19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.Joh 3:20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.Joh 3:21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."
A Second Invitation and Those Invited [Matthew 22:8-10]
The first to receive the invitation, not the only, just the first; despise it. They want to go to the wedding feast but they don't like the invitation and the way it is presented.
Now let's consider the actual invitation. I picture someone holding this beautiful golden engraved and embossed note card. It is white and clean and pleasing to the eye, but simple. I see the first one holding it saying,
"This invitation looks all wrong. I would have used darker richer colors like purple and I would have been more specific in my definitions. Why doesn't it have ribbons and pearls. I would have used gems and I would have included a photograph of the bride and groom. It says here that I can't even wear my own clothing which I've worked so hard to make beautiful and impressive. Why should I put on the King's clothes...it will make everyone look the same?! Well if the King doesn't like the way I dress then I don't want to have anything to do with Him."
Now picture those who receive the invitation but never even knew or thought they would get one. I picture a slightly scruffy hand holding the invitation and the person says,
"Wow! Can you believe that I am invited to this wedding feast. What am I going to wear? Oh wait, it says here that I don't have to bring my own clothes, the King will provide them. What an amazing King. How did He know that I had nothing to wear. Look here it says I need to be ready by this date. I must hurry and put the King's clothes on so that I can make it on time. I can't believe he actually invited me. What? You got an invitation too? Wow, look at that everyone has one in their mailbox....I wonder if they know. Maybe I should put them on and go tell them so they have time to get ready."
The Well Dressed vs The Properly Dressed [Matthew 22:11-14]
Once again the King is ready to meet with His invited guests. All of them have received the invitation and have accepted it. They come to the feast and are excited about the idea of being at the wedding. But, some of them didn't like the part about having to wear the King's wedding garment. I picture them maybe even taking the provided wedding garment and embellishing it with gold and jewels to make it more attractive; more "shiny". They have maybe torn off the sleeves to allow their muscles to show through. They might have adjusted the collar so that it accentuates their facial features. They come, expecting that the King will be impressed with what they've done with the wedding garment. But all that the King see's is something that doesn't have any of Him in it.
Notice that the King calls this person "Friend". They do seem to know each other, but the "friend" has still chosen to come with his own garments. In this case, the King is not "furious" but the result is that the invited wedding guest is still removed from the feast. There may also be significance to the binding of their hands and feet. Is it because it is with their hands and feet that they went their own way? Is it because they cannot use the results of what they've done with their hands and feet to replace the fact that they are not wearing the proper attire?
Now, lets look at our original question. We just hate it when we are asked to an occasion when we have nothing to wear. God has invited you and I to the wedding feast. The wedding feast takes place in His Kingdom of Heaven. He has sent an invitation to everyone; all are invited. But, to get to the wedding feast we have to do a number of things...
- Accept the invitation
- Accept the provided attire.
- Do what the invitation calls us to do.
- Go to the wedding.
- Bring nothing of ourselves.
Dear reader. You have been invited to the wedding feast that ends all wedding feasts. You don't have to provide the clothes. You just have to wear the clothes that the Wedding Planner has provided. Don't try to change God's plan of salvation. Seek to know HIS WILL and not your own. You can do nothing to make yourself more presentable to God. You can do nothing to make Him love you more.
Don't mess with the Wedding Garment; just put it on...and go to the wedding. It may feel a little uncomfortable at first because your not used to wearing it, but give it time. The Wedding Garment will soon be the only clothing you'll ever want to wear.
Thank You for inviting me to the wedding. For so long I thought I wasn't invited and it was because I thought I had nothing to wear. I now see that You have provided the clothing and I need to put them on and keep them on. I want that clothing today. I want to be ready for the wedding; and I praise Your Name because You have given me the clothes. Help me Lord in my unbelief. Help me to never take off the clothes that You provided.
Be with my family, friends and church. Help us all to see what You have done for us. Help us all to not go our own way, but to seek only Your way. Be with those people out there who are trying so hard to make themselves ready for the feast...help them to see that You are the one that provides. I ask for these things in Jesus name, amen.