Matthew 22:1-14 – Wait, Where Are My Clothes?

Posted: March 4, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus Tells the Parable of the Wedding Banquet

One of my first memories of childhood I am not sure whether it was dream or reality at this point. Regardless of whether it is a dream or not, it has stuck with me throughout my life. I am a very young child who had just started walking and talking and the family is there, my mom, dad, and my brother who is my elder by 18 months. In addition, my paternal grandparents, my uncles and their wives were all there too. Everyone is dressed in suits and ties and the women in nice dresses. Everyone looked really nice. We were about to go out to eat somewhere. It must have been summertime because no one was wearing the heavy clothing of overcoats of wintertime. And I was wearing nothing but a diaper, no shirt, no pants, no shoes. Maybe, that’s the way I like it. I have always been hot-natured. While my wife wraps up in a blanket even in the summertime, I wear shorts and a t-shirt and sleep on top of covers at night. Back then though, I remember to this day feeling left out, feeling different, wanting clothing but my mom nor anyone else thought to put some clothes on me because I was just a little kid. I wanted to be like the others but could not get anyone to understand that I wanted to be dressed up like them. Maybe, this was a dream from an older age signifying my own feelings of being an outsider in an insider world. I have always felt like everyone else was in on the joke and I was the one that didn’t know the joke. Growing up as a preacher’s kid will do that to you, I guess. However, I must remember too that this dream or this reality has to do with the old saying that the clothes do not make the man. It is what is inside us that counts. We may dress ourselves up but it is not the clothes or things that make us who we are. It is the heart of the little guy in the diaper that matters and not who or what we try to impress people with. Sometimes, we take pride in our own finery and do not have our hearts right with God. It is that idea that brings us to today’s passage, Matthew 22:1-14:

22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He 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. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The 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. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 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.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He 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.”

I think there are two things that are apparent here that we need to chase down. First, the chosen guests rejected the invitation and the call that everything was ready for the wedding banquet. Second, there is the man that accepted the invitation but refused to wear the wedding clothes. Jesus was indicting the religious leaders and the nation of Israel for rejecting the invitation to see Him as the Messiah and that everything was ready for them to proclaim the kingdom of God in Jesus. Jesus was also indicting them for acting as if they were God’s people but that they were too proud and arrogant to accept Jesus as the Messiah, their Savior and Lord. These are just as searing of indictments to the world at large today. There may be only a few people groups on the planet that do not have knowledge of who Jesus is. There are those that live in societies dominated by non-Christian religions but many have heard who Jesus is at the least. The more searing indictment is for those who live in cultures where Christianity is the dominant religion. We know all about Him but there are those who reject Him even though they have heard the news and have heard the invitation. The Messiah has come. He died to take the punishment for our sins so that we could be clothed in righteousness before God. He will come again one day to gather those who believe in Him as God in the flesh and to judge those who do not. Yet, there are those who reject Him. There also those who dress up as the part of a true believer but yet that are too proud to make Jesus their Lord and Savior and accept His clothing of righteousness.

First let’s speak to those who reject the invitation outright. They have been invited but they would not come. That reminds us of those who know full well about the theology of Christianity but refuse to believe. Each one was too busy with the things of this world to mess with the banquet. We are a society now that is too busy with the things of this world to mess with Jesus. We act like this existence is all there is. We are too concerned with making money, acquiring toys, and all the other trappings of this world to worry with the invitation to come to Christ. We think we have too much living to do. Jesus would cramp our style. We want to live life first before we accept Christ as our Savior. How tragic, and how indicative of human nature, to be offered the blessings of God and to refuse them because of the draw of mundane things! We recently began a new sermon series at church called “Destiny”. In the first sermon in the series, Pastor Jeff used the illustration of a rope that he had tied to something off-stage and he began unfurling the rope as he walked back to the midway point in the stage and held the rope tight. The rope had been painted red at the end that he was holding for maybe the last four inches of the rope. The rest of it was unpainted. He said that the red part of it, he said, was representing our temporal life from birth to death. The rest of it, stretching off stage and he said also for us to imagine it going out the stage door to the outside world and around the planet 10,000 times. That, he said, represents eternity. The red part then in that view is very small, a blip, compared to the rest of the rope. Why then do we so concern ourselves with the things that do not matter in eternity. We refuse the invitation to that which will ensure that we spend eternity in the presence of God and concern ourselves with that which makes us feel good here in this life. Kind of short-sighted isn’t it? Are you living your life for the mundane things of this temporal existence and refusing God’s invitation through Jesus Christ? Do you think the banquet is only a bunch hokum invented by man and that this existence is all there is? Do you reject the banquet? Jesus is the king and He will come to judge those who have rejected the invitation.

Then there are those who act as if they are Christians and act the part but refuse to wear the wedding clothes provided to them. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that all our clothes but filthy rags in the sight of God. It means that our pride in ourselves and who we are and what we have accomplished and how pious we think we are is nothing compared to the glory and perfection of God. We have no reason to be proud before God. But yet there are those who dress the part. They think they are good enough already. They think that do not need the righteous clothes of Jesus to wear because they think they are good enough on their own. Our faith is the only one out there that is realistic about man. All man-made religions and even those who act as if they are Christian in our own faith make it all about performance. They make it about good deeds vs. bad deeds. We may take pride in ourselves for being better than others and doing more good than bad. But in our faith for those who have come to salvation in Christ understand it, there is nothing that we can do on our own to make ourselves good enough in front of God. Our pride in ourselves for being more good than bad is but filthy rags in front of God. For it is one sin that condemns us my friend in the presence of God. Like pouring ink into a clear glass of water, one sin changes the water into something other than pure water. One sin. That’s all it takes to separate us from God. Not to mention our lifetime of piling up sin after sin. We are filthy and stained in front of God and because sin cannot exist in His presence we are to be sent away from Him forever in that place with there is gnashing of teeth and the burning of flesh. We cannot be good enough. We cannot be perfect all of our lives. We need Jesus’s clothing of righteousness. We need to wear the wedding clothes that are offered to us. We cannot do this on our own. We need Jesus. We need the cross where we accepted God’s wrath against all sin of all time, including yours and mine. We need Jesus to have taken the punishment we deserve. We need Jesus to do that so that we are made clean and pure before God. We need that clothing of righteousness. We need to accept the clothing to cover our filthy rags.

Where do you stand? Too busy for Jesus? Think you’ve got it knocked in that you are more good than bad? Don’t need Jesus? He will come to judge both you and me? Will you have accepted the invitation to the banquet and accepted the wedding clothes?

Amen and Amen.

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