Summary: What kind of wedding garments do we need to be acceptable in the Kingdom of Heaven?
We’re beginning a series of sermons based on questions submitted by the people of this congregation, as well as questions from people in the churches at Spring Creek, Pisgah and Walton. As their preachers and I prayed about the responses we received, we found that there were certain questions that occurred again and again.
One of the most prominent of the questions we received was this one: Do I qualify for heaven? Or, another way to ask that question (based on the parable we’re using this morning) - am I properly dressed to get in to heaven?
OPEN: A woman and her young daughter were attending the wedding of one their relatives. And this was the first time the little girl had ever seen a wedding ceremony. She was in awe by the pomp and beauty of everything. The music, the formal atmosphere, the decorations, the bride and groom and their attendants in fine gowns and tuxes.
Sometime during the ceremony, the little girl leaned over to her mother and whispered: “Mommy, mommy.”
“What dear,” her mother replied.
"Why is the bride dressed in white?"
The mother thought about that for moment and struggled to come up with a simple explanation her daughter would understand. Finally, she smiled and said to her daughter: "The bride wear white, because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life”
The little girl thought about this for a moment, and then she said, "So why’s the groom wearing black?"
APPLY: Weddings are usually “dress up affairs”. Not only do the bride and groom generally spend a lot of money on their gown and tux but so the maids of honor and groomsmen. In addition, family and friends generally dress up in their Sunday best to show respect and honor to the newly married couple.
Now, I’ve been to many weddings, and I’ve conducted a fair number of them as well… but I don’t know as if I’ve ever been to a wedding where someone has been kicked out because of how they’ve dressed, or not dressed. (Though I’ve been to a couple where they should have been).
But here in Matthew 22, we find that that is exactly what took place. The King gives a banquet, and becomes irate by the fact that one of the invited guests wasn’t wearing the appropriate wedding garment. Not only was that man kicked out but he was bound hand and foot and thrown outside, into the darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth
I. Now, on the face of it, this reaction by the father of the groom seems a little unfair. I mean – after all – in the parable Jesus tells these guests don’t seem to be wealthy people. Jesus tells us that the people were literally standing on the street corner when they were invited, and it’s reasonable to believe that at least some of them didn’t have the resources to dress in the best of garments.
But the dad kicks this man out of the banquet anyway… and he’s not particularly nice about it.
So then, the first question that comes to mind is… what in the world happened here???
According to Barnes New Testament Notes: “Anciently, kings and princes were accustomed to make presents of changes of raiment to their friends and favourites. To refuse to receive (this gift) was an expression of highest contempt.”
Well… now it begins to make a little more sense. The king had supplied ALL of his guests with wedding robes, and this guy just didn’t wear what he was given.
From the very outset Jesus explains what this parable was referring to:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son” Matt. 22:2
So, this is a description of how people qualify for heaven.
And from the way Jesus tells the story, it appears it isn’t all that hard to get into heaven.
The servants of the King “went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” Matthew 22:10
It didn’t matter whether they were rich or poor
influential or destitute
good or bad
EVERYBODY was invited…
Now it’s hard for me to imagine that some would have rejected the King’s offer… but they did.
And it’s hard for me to believe that anyone would abuse the King’s offer… but they did.
But it’s really hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this man would be invited to the banquet, accept the offer… and then literally slap his host in the face by refusing to wear the garments the King had graciously supplied!
II. Now, it would appear that the clothing he wore to the banquet “looked” much like the wedding garments everyone else was wearing.