Clothed in righteousness
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son…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.’…when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment…Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness.’ ”
Matthew 22:1-2, 8-9, 11, 13 (ESV)
So many major occasions in our lives call for us to wear beautiful and distinctive garments. Weddings stand out as being the occasion in life for dressing in very special finery, alluded to in the above scripture.
The first time I read this parable, I was startled at the harsh treatment given to the guest who wasn’t wearing the festive garment provided by his wealthy host. Later I came to realise the symbolism of the wedding garment, and to relate it to something else in an even more famous parable – that of the Prodigal Son, that we know so well from Luke 15:11-32.
My understanding of the symbolism came from considering the exact state the prodigal son must have been in when his father greeted him. How long had he been living and working with the pigs before he couldn’t take it anymore? (Luke 15: 15-16). He must have had to sell every single possession for food as he wasn’t allowed to eat the pig slops. How many weeks, if not months, was he in those pigsties without ever being able to take a bath? All he owned were the bits of ragged clothing, not good enough to sell, which barely covered his emaciated, stinking body. At last he headed for his family home, just as he was – good for nothing!
His father, running to meet him, must have encountered the stomach-turning smell a good distance away but it didn’t stop him as he hugged and welcomed his tattered, starving offspring. Not willing to embarrass his son by taking him past family and staff, even to get to a washroom, his father called for a robe to cover his disgraceful state. Not just any robe though – the finest robe! It’s difficult to imagine!
And don’t forget, he will never again get into such a disgusting condition.
In the confusion and turmoil of our race through this Christian life, we can too easily begin again to feel unworthy of the tremendous sacrifice made to forgive that sin we’ve just committed – again! We can lose sight of the fact that our repentance and God’s earnest desire to grant us forgiveness keeps us fully clothed in the exquisitely beautiful robe of Christ’s righteousness.
Beloved Father God, please give us the knowledge of Your deep love for us so that we may never be like the guest at the King’s wedding banquet: refusing any gift from You, thinking that our own righteousness is good enough or that we are too unworthy. Thank you for your grace which covers and enhances all that You are accomplishing in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Study by Merry Matti
About the writer:
Merry Matti attends the Nottingham congregation of Grace Communion International.
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy & Vincent Brown Hall
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