The Parable of the Wedding Feast continues a string of parables that Jesus began in Matthew 21. The full text of the parable is here.
The king represents God and his son is the Messiah. The invited guests would be the nation of Israel up to the time of Jesus. Their poor treatment of many prophets and messengers is well documented in the Old Testament and continued to the time of John the Baptist.
God’s response was to destroy their city, Jerusalem, and this happened more than once. Jesus seems to be looking to what would be a future destruction from his own perspective.
Since the invited guests refused to take part in the festivities, the king encourages anyone at all to come. The point is that the wedding is going to take place with or without the originally invited guests.
In the ancient world, there were examples of kings who handed out special clothing to their guests. One outcome of this was that everyone was on the same level — no pride for the wealthy and stylish, no shame for those who were poor. All of them were honored guests of the king. (See Gundry 1994).
One man was wearing his own clothes, apparently thinking they were good enough. He has no answer for the king when he is confronted. He is thrown out immediately.
Here are a few things we should take to heart from this parable:
Not all those raised with a religious background accept God’s invitation to the royal wedding of his Son.
For example, many of the Jews in Old Testament times or the time of Jesus refused.
Many raised in the church today do the same, ignoring the invitation and belittling God’s messengers. They believe they know better.
Even if we say yes, we must remember that we are allowed in only on God’s terms not on our own.
The result is that many who are “bad” as well as those who are “good” (v.10) end up as guests in the wedding when the party starts. They all came in at God’s invitation and on his terms. Those who refuse Christ’s offer or try to negotiate something other than entrance as a result of his free gift find themselves left out.
Barry Atwell walks us through the Letter of 1 John, pointing out the Top Ten Marks of Conversion. These can give us assurance that we are truly born again. The lack of these marks, or the presence of their opposite, would indicate that our conversion has never happened.
Jean-Paul Sartre gives his own vision of hell in a play called No Exit. The “moral” of the play is the hopelessly amoral conclusion: “You are – your life, and nothing else.” There is no forgiveness and no redemption. No greater good, no higher purpose. You live, you laugh, you suffer and you die. And that’s it.
We all know the type. “Sure I’m a Christian,” they say. And we look at their lives thinking, “Oh Really? I never would have guessed.” James knew the type also – and he attacks them in this passage. He gives us all a reminder that: Our good works are the only part of our faith that anyone will ever see.
Certain jobs are never quite completed. For example: Cleaning, cutting the grass, washing Clothes, add your (least) favorite routine item here. Christ came to this earth on a mission. He finished the job. Our redemption is complete.