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“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”—Matthew 22:14 (NIV)
Jesus always has a poignant way of presenting a picture in parable, and this section of The Wedding Feast parable is no exception. It’s rooted in truth, contains a warning, and should cause the reader to reflect.
In this parable, the king represents God. Just like the king, God has invited a special group of people (the nation of Israel) to His wedding feast (the kingdom of God). And like the guests in the parable, the Israelites refused the invitation.
Undaunted, the king extended his invitation to anyone, good or bad, who would attend in order that his hall would be filled. This is what God has done through the gospel of Jesus Christ—inviting the undeserving Gentile nations so His kingdom will be full.
But the parable takes a tragic turn when Jesus says the king noticed a guest who was not wearing wedding clothes (Matthew 22:11-12). The king asks how the man got in, but the man is speechless. Jesus then says 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” (Matthew 22:13 NIV).
Why did the king take such drastic measures? Customarily, specific clothes were required to attend such a festive event. To not wear wedding attire was a huge affront to the host; in this case, it was a deadly error on the guest’s part.
How does this fit into the parable? Just as the king looked at the guest and knew he didn’t belong, God looks at our hearts and knows if we are putting on a pretense of self-righteousness. He knows if we are Christians in name only, believing our good works will earn us entry into His kingdom.
That belief is marred. Only through faith in Jesus Christ is salvation possible. Does that seem rigid or unfair? To me, it looks like grace. It looks like a Father who went to great measures, sparing nothing, not even His beloved Son, to ensure that we will live an abundant life now and forever with Him. I’ll take that over eternal darkness, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.
Self-righteousness is a tragedy. Pastor David Guzik defines it as someone indifferent to the gospel, antagonistic toward it, and unchanged by it. Those people will share the same fate— none will enjoy the king’s feast.
Jesus offers to robe us in His righteousness for His kingdom (Isaiah 61:10). We are wise to accept His gracious invitation to be the bride of Christ.
DIG: Read Proverb 20:8 and combine it with what we have learned in this section of the parable about God’s omniscience and judgment.
DISCOVER: Are you encouraged by this parable or unaffected/offended?
DO: If the latter, then please reconsider God’s relentless pursuit of you. You are reading this, someone has spoken to you, and God has invited you. He has offered to clothe you with His garments of salvation and righteousness. Repent, rejoice, and commit or recommit to Him.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.