RM: As a “good” Presbyterian, I have to admit that I do occasionally enjoy a good beer....to the glory of God. Out of love for my Savior I make sure to never abuse alcohol and I try not to drink insensitively in front of a “weaker brother,” but the truth is I really do enjoy a good, dark, rich tasting beer every now and then....to the glory of God!
I remember when I turned 21 years old and I could first get into a bar. I remember the serious feeling of showing your I.D. to the door guy, and even standing up a little straighter as I confidently presented it!
God must not be too far from this protocol, because if you observe this passage, in Matthew 22:8-14 it says,
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 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.”
A valid driver’s license to get into heaven is surely not what’s in view here, but apparently.....wearing some necessary wedding garment is! It certainly was for this unfortunate and negligent guest! What is this special clothing which is so important? And is this important item still available somewhere, so that I can get one?! The Bible teaches that we need a “robe of righteousness.” This wedding garment is a metaphorical way of illustrating Jesus’ substitutionary performance of his own obedience and death, which “covers” us.
It makes you think of Rev 6:11, a very symbolic picture of the souls of believers in heaven who are given white robes to wear, symbolizing the clean absence of any stain of moral guilt which covers and secures us. It makes you think of Adam and Eve in the garden, so sadly trying to self-justify their own moral guilt and cover their resulting naked shame with sad little fig leaves. And how God responded so mercifully and graciously by providing coverings for their shame, a seedling promise of the Lamb to come, by sacrificing an animal to cover them with skins. Or you can think of Isaiah 61:10 which says, “I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me in a robe of righteousness.”
This is the symbolism and meaning behind this garment, which one needs to “wear” in the King’s presence and banquet. The Bible teaches that Jesus came to this earth in order to earn and finish our obligation to obey God and also to pay our debt of not doing so, as a free gift. In doing this he has won us as his celebrated bride, the Church. A gift we receive merely by reaching out and accepting it by faith, before Him and His people.
This is apparently something that we ought to value above other things, with it’s naturally produced effect of having a desire to love and obey God, though not always perfect, and with a joy naturally produced in one’s heart when truly received.
And Jesus’ point with this parable, is that this act of faith, of receiving God’s free gift of covering forgiveness, should not just be a meaningless addition tacked on to some religious compartment of our otherwise busy and contented life. It’s apparently supposed to be each person’s grand celebration. The proof that we’ve freely received this gift of Jesus’ shame covering “wedding garment,” is if we have a deep awareness and recurring joy produced by relishing our admittance and inclusion into this party and gathering.
In fact, there’s a very somber note here. In this parable, Jesus is actually warning us....begging us to take seriously.... that our obligation to accept this gift is no small matter. For those who miss it or over look it, he warns that it will be a matter of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
So then, together, let’s make sure that we answer Jesus’ “last call” and receive this free gift of being covered by him with our very own wedding garment, by faith....with gladness.... entering this banquet confidently and joyfully, where all the drinks are on Jesus....to the glory of God! Amen.
Pastor Rusty Mosley