The Road to Resurrection // The Poorly Dressed Guest

By Pastor Nate Powell

As we head toward the Easter season, Pastor Nate is writing a series of articles that lead us to the season in which we celebrate the cross and the empty tomb. This is article 3 of 5.

Even when he knew it was the last week of his life, Jesus still had a thing for telling stories. Of course, you know that they are called parables and Jesus used them not only to connect with his followers but to tell earthly stories that shared deep spiritual truths. One of those stories he told is found in Matthew 22:1-14, the parable of the Wedding Feast.

The first portion of the story is told about a king who was giving a wedding feast for his son. He invited the guests, but they would not come. He even went so far as to send out his servants with in-person invitations: “Come to the feast! We will have the best food and drink! Please come!” But many of the citizens went away and paid no attention. The few who remained seized the servants and killed them. The king was so angered at his citizens when he found this out, that he sent his troops to destroy the murdering citizens and burn their city. He then rounds up his servants that remain up, and sends them out saying “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.” So he sends out the servants to invite and gather anyone who will come to the feast.

This first portion of the story is straightforward to us, because it is a reminder of how the Jews would reject Jesus, and so the invitation to be God’s chosen people would go out to all … both the Jews and the Gentiles. This is the intention of God’s invitation into the Kingdom and the eventual wedding feast of the Lamb.

But the second portion of the story should give us each pause. From verse 11, Jesus tells it: ““But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

We are not expecting the King to be so picky or so narrow-minded as some might call him. Why would he reject a guest that was not properly dressed? The king rejects this man, because he has not made the proper preparation to attend such an occasion. He has dishonored the king because he could not be troubled to change his clothes for the banquet. He showed up in his beat up T-shirt and cutoff Jeans. He couldn’t be bothered to get cleaned up. He just did his own thing.

This is what happens when we think we can get to heaven by other means than Jesus. We keep on the rags of an old way of life. We keep on the habits of sinful patterns or addictions in our lives. We presume upon his grace when we stay dressed in the clothes of the old man. But the promises of Revelation are that all who are in Jesus receive a cleansing of white garments by which we may be clothed in God’s presence. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.” (Rev 22:14)

The call of Jesus on the way to the cross, the grave and the sky is a call to be prepared for the feast with the lamb. It is the preparation we sing of in the Hymn “The Solid Rock”: “When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found: dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.” Dressed in his righteousness alone. A beautiful phrase to remind us of where our hope is for this life and the next. Dressed in his righteousness, we are ready for the feast. We are clean.

So may the scripture be true of you and of me: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isa 61:10)