What! No Wedding Clothes?

1Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ 5“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10So 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.11“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.13“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.’ 14“For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:1-14).

In this parable of Jesus, the Lord tells us of a time that is soon coming, when the King of the Universe will gather together His people to Himself, everyone who has entered into covenant relationship with God through the substitutionary death of His Son. He will be at the wedding banquet. The passage tells us of His coming into the midst of the wedding celebration and seeing a man wearing no wedding clothes. This custom we read about in the Old Testament. In the story of Samson’s wedding in the Philistine country, for instance, Samson had to supply the wedding guests with linen garments (Judges 14:10-13). In Samson’s case, he tried to get out of the custom by posing a riddle.

This custom is what is alluded to in the Parable of the Marriage Feast, the passage above. The king in the parable is a picture of God who supplies all of His wedding guests with a robe of righteousness. There will be none at the wedding feast better dressed than others—we will all be one in Christ Jesus and clothed in God’s righteousness:

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 his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10).

This man’s lack of the proper garment shows that he has purposely rejected the king’s provision for him. This rejection of the wedding garment is a greater insult than those who refused to come to the wedding. This man chose to insult the king in the presence of all His guests. He is a picture of those who refuse to wear God’s provision of the garment of righteousness that God has given (Isaiah 61:10). This parable Christ spoke to those who were standing around Him as He taught, those who were acting as if they were believers but trying to trap Him in His words (Matthew 22:15). This parable is also a warning to those who think they are believers; however, they have never submitted their lives to the Son and been born again of the Spirit (John 3:3). Sadly, they will find out too late that the only way to come to the Wedding Feast in the Kingdom of God is to wear the Kings provision of His righteousness in Christ. Clothe yourself with Christ!

Keith Thomas

Did You Respond to the Invitation?

As a professional singer, it was not unusual to be asked to sing for a wedding, but it was a bit unusual to sing for the wedding of a millionaire. I knew the wedding would be picture-perfect and was pleased to be able to participate, but when the invitation to the reception arrived, I knew it would be something exceptional.

The reception was held on the top two floors of Seattle’s Columbia Tower, the Northwest’s tallest skyscraper, and it was even more wonderful than I imagined. Waiters were wearing snappy black tuxedos who offered delicious appetizers and exotic beverages for the most discriminating tastes. The atmosphere was one of grace and sophistication. After about an hour of merriment, the bride and groom approached a beautiful glass and brass staircase that led to the top floor. A satin ribbon, which was draped across the bottom of the stairs, was cut and the announcement made that the wedding feast was about to begin. The bride and groom ascended the stairs, and the guests followed. What a lavish event of which to be a part.

A gentleman with a lovely bound book greeted us as we reached the top of the stairs. “May I have your name please?” “I am Ruthanna Metzgar, and this is my husband, Roy Metzgar,” I replied. The gentleman searched the Ms. “I’m not finding it. Would you spell it please?” I spelled it slowly and clearly. After searching throughout the book, the gentleman looked up and said, “I’m sorry, but your name is not here. Without your name in this book, you cannot attend this banquet.” “Oh, there must be some mistake,” I replied. “I am the singer. I sang for this wedding!” The gentleman calmly answered, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you did, without your name in the book you cannot attend this banquet.” As I looked around the room, I thought briefly of running to the groom and trying to plead my case, but with a hundred guests on the stairs behind us and every place at the tables assigned according to the thoughtful choices of the bride and groom, I stood silent.

The gentleman with the book motioned to a waiter and said, “Show these people to the service elevator please.” We followed the waiter past beautifully decorated tables laden with shrimp, whole smoked salmon, even gracefully carved ice sculptures. And adjacent to the banquet area was an orchestra, its members all dressed in dazzling white tuxedos, preparing to fill the room with glorious music. We were led to the service elevator, stepped in, and the waiter himself pushed “G” for the garage. My husband, thoughtfully, did not say a word, nor did I. As Roy drove out of the Columbia Tower garage, we both remained silent. After driving several miles in silence, Roy reached over and gently put his hand on my arm. “Sweetheart, what happened?”

And then I remembered: “When the invitation arrived for the reception I was very busy, and I never bothered to return the RSVP. Besides, I was the singer, and surely I could go to the reception without returning the RSVP!”

As we drove on, I began to weep. I was not crying because I had just missed the most lavish banquet of my life, but I was sobbing because suddenly I knew what it will be like someday for people as they stand before the entrance of heaven: People who were too busy to respond to Christ’s invitation to His heavenly banquet. People who assumed that the good things they had done, even perfect church attendance or singing in the choir, would be enough to gain entry to heaven. People who will look for their name in the Lamb’s Book of Life and not find it there. People who did not have time to respond to Christ’s gracious invitation to have their sins forgiven and accept Him into their hearts.

And then I wept again because I was so grateful that I had, many years earlier, received Christ as my personal Savior and can be confident that my name is written in the most important book of all: The Lamb’s Book of Life. Is Yours?

(Copyright Ruthanna Metzgar, excerpted in Heaven, by Randy Alcorn.)

The Wedding of the Lamb

In the last few days, we have been thinking on the fact that true biblical Christianity is about a marriage God is making between His Son and all those who will enter into covenant with Him. In some mysterious way, we, the people of God, have been brought into an organic union with Christ. Jesus said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches…4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:1; 4). In fact, the words, “In Christ” appear 160 times. A marriage relationship between a man and his wife is a picture of the heavenly union that Christ has entered into with His bride, the people who are born-again of the Spirit (John 3:3).

Many of our wedding traditions are illustrative of the heavenly marriage. Things such as the bride taking on the last name of the bridegroom. Those of us who are known as “Christians”, have taken the name of our husband, the Lord Jesus, and the Bible says that we will bear His name on our foreheads (Revelation 22:4). The name is symbolic of the nature of Christ, and His name on our foreheads symbolize that our thought life, our minds, have been brought into alignment with the nature and character of our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus.

At a wedding, what does the giving of rings on the finger symbolize? Perhaps, the ring speaks of the gift of eternal life that is given to the believer, in that a ring is circular and never ending. Also in a marriage everything that the bridegroom owns belongs to the bride. In the same way, the resources of heaven are given to the Church, the bride of Christ. All we need to do is to ask Him, for He has promised, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (John 14:13). He has withheld nothing from His bride. The Bible tells us that, “he has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The bride also wears white, which speaks of purity just as the bride of Christ on her wedding day will wear fine linen, bright and clean:

6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:6-8).

This passage above is a prophecy of what will happen at some point in the future, the Day when everything will change, and the now-prepared bride of Christ will enter into her wedding with the Son of God. If salvation and eternity is totally a gift (and it is), what does it mean when the passage of Scripture says that the bride has made herself ready? How do we make ourselves ready? All that is of our old nature, things that are not pleasing to our Lord, must no longer be expressed:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires (Ephesians 4:22).

Can you imagine what it will be like for you who know Christ to actually be in that moment, to be part of the great multitude shouting hallelujah to God? Imagine knowing that the fight of faith is over and that you will soon enter into the wedding celebration of the Lamb! How can anyone not want such a relationship with God as this? So loud was the sound of all those commingled voices that it sounded like “many waters;” similarly, so great will be the joy of the redeemed of the Lord. What a happy day that will be! Don’t you think the joy on the face of the Lord Jesus will be great as we look upon Him on that day. He will look upon you as He beholds the result of the work He completed on the cross for His people.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas