FOR AUDIO VERSION CLICK HERE.11 ``But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, `Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. 13 ``Then the king said to the servants, `Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 ``For many are called , but few are chosen.''
This is a second parable, but it is also a very close continuation and amplification of the previous one. It is the story of a guest who appeared at a royal wedding feast without a wedding garment. One of the great interests of this parable is that in it we see Jesus taking a story which was already familiar to his hearers and using it in his own way.
"The Rabbis had two stories which involved kings and garments. The first told of a king who invited his guests to a feast without telling them the exact date and time; but he did tell them that they must wash, and anoint, and clothe themselves that they might be ready when the summons came. The wise prepared themselves at once, and took their places waiting at the palace door, for they believed that in a palace a feast could be prepared so quickly that there would be no long warning. The foolish believed that it would take a long time to make the necessary preparations and that they would have plenty of time. So they went, the mason to his lime, the potter to his clay, the smith to his furnace, the fuller to his bleaching-ground, and went on with their work. Then, suddenly, the summons to the feast came without any warning. The wise were ready to sit down and the king rejoiced over them and they ate and drank. But those who had not arrayed themselves in their wedding garments had to stand outside, sad and hungry, and look on at the joy that they had lost. That rabbinic parable tells of the duty of preparedness for the summons of God, and the garments stand for the preparation that must be made."
FIRST--The local lesson is that Jesus has just said that the king, to supply his feast with guests, sent his messengers out into the highways and byways to gather all men in. That was the parable of the open door. It told how the Gentiles and the sinners would be gathered in. This parable strikes the necessary balance. It is true that the door is open to all men, but when they come they must bring a life which seeks to fit the love which has been given to them. Grace is not only a gift; it is a grave responsibility. A man cannot go on living the life he lived before he met Jesus Christ. He must be clothed in a new purity and a new holiness and a new goodness. He is a new creation-old things pass away and new things come!
SECOND--Then there is the permanent lesson. The way in which a man comes to anything demonstrates the spirit in which he comes. If we go to visit in a friend's house, we do not go in the clothes we wear in the shipyard or the garden. We know very well that it is not the clothes which matter to the friend. It is not that we want to put on a show. It is simply a matter of respect that we should present ourselves in our friend's house as neatly as we can. The fact that we prepare ourselves to go there is the way in which we outwardly show our affection and our esteem for our friend. So it is with God's house. This parable has nothing to do with the clothes in which we go to church; it has everything to do with the spirit in which we go to God's house. There are garments of the mind and of the heart and of the soul-the garment of expectation, the garment of humility, the garment of faith, the garment of reverence-and these are the garments without which we ought not to approach God.
So we see a contrast in these last two parables between joy and judgment! In some sense, it is like the balancing act of Law and Grace. We receive Jesus with all of the benefits, yet there are some demands upon our lives from that day forward. He has given me all of these amazing things by grace-unmerited on my part-and now He wants me to act like it.