And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 22:11-13)
In our parable today, Christ explains to his listeners that the kingdom of heaven is like a king who had a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to gather people in for the feast. Many went after the ways of the world and did not care to go to the feast. Here he is signifying the Jews who did not listen to the message of the prophets. Therefore, the king sent them out to the highways and gathered many who were “both bad and good” (v.10).
Among them was a man who did not appear in a wedding garment. He was not fit for the feast. None of the other guests appeared to have noticed this about the man; it isn’t until the king came into the feast that it was discovered that he was without a wedding garment. This man was bound and taken out.
This man represents those in the church who, while appearing to others to be part of the elect of God, have rejected Christ and are not of his people. Notice, no one was aware this man was without a wedding garment. There will be tares among the wheat. Christ will separate the sheep from the goats on the last day. However, in our time, we cannot discern the eternal plan God has decreed in the life of a person.
The image of the garment is telling as well. The New Testament speaks elsewhere of garments related to our salvation in Christ. Paul tells us to make no provision for the flesh and to put on Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14). The saints in heaven in John’s vision are clothed in clean linen, which is their righteousness, (Rev 19:8). Moreover, Isaiah prophesied that God would put on his people a robe of righteousness. (Is. 61:10).
From this we learn that those who are clothed in the righteousness of Christ – his active and passive obedience – are those fit for the kingdom. This does not exclude the good works we do, for it is from these that we see who indeed has been clothed in his righteousness. Our good works demonstrate the sincerity of our faith before men, yet God knows who he has clothed his garments.
Do not seek to earn a spot at the wedding feast wearing your own garments which can do nothing to save. Seek the garment that Christ has given you. Rest in his righteousness. It is on this basis that he will transform you as a child of God fit for the Kingdom. Matthew Poole comments “It is but an idle dispute, whether faith is meant, or love: neither the one nor the other separately, but faith that worketh by love; whatsoever God requireth of us, that we may be made meet for the kingdom of God: without faith and holiness none can see God.”