Jesus is telling story about a king who throws a wedding feast. Our king loves a party, and he loves…love. This king is having a celebration and everyone ends up being invited, the bad as well as the good!
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:8-14 NIV)
Does it seems harsh that this guy gets the boot just for wearing tacky pants?
On a human level we understand that if we show up to a party in the wrong attire, and that if we offend the host, we will be asked to leave. And if we really offend the host, we will be thrown out.
The kingdom is available to everyone. We’re all invited. But if we’re going to join the celebration we need to honor the host.
I grew up in the mountains, and I am perfectly comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans, and I like to put my elbows on the table. But when I am invited to a high class party, I dress and act a certain way. Not to pretend to be someone I’m not, but to honor the host.
God is perfect and won’t tolerate sin. There is only one way we can show up that honors him, and that is in proper attire. What does it mean to be clothed properly for the kingdom?
To literally dress to the nines? To be able to turn a Christian phrase properly? To have a high position and an air of self-righteousness?
“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)
So the clothing that God is concerned with must not be an outward covering, but inward one. Consider these three coverings mentioned in the bible and their inward implications:
Even as God escorts Adam and Eve to the door of the party called Eden and pronounced their curse, “the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 NIV) What an act of compassion that the Almighty personally covers them even at the very beginning of their journey into fallenness. Interestingly, it is animal skin, not fiber, which means something had to die for them to be covered, which shows us a picture of the sacrifice Jesus would later make to provide a covering.
In another parable Jesus tells, when the lost son comes and falls at the feet of his loving dad saying, “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him.” (Luke 15:22 NIV) His father invites him back in and throws a party. After covering him with the best robe.
One day we will be invited as a bride to a wedding feast, and a thunderous voice will say “The marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Revelation 19:7-8 NASB)
Righteous acts come from righteousness. Righteousness comes from being covered with Jesus.
[edited for brevity 4.16.14.]May 20, 2011