There were parties aplenty in the early years of high school. Some not so great, many of them little more than huddles of insecure teenagers waiting for somebody to embarrass themselves or do something heroic. Given the scrutiny that anyone at one of these gatherings would be under, we all knew it was important how you were dressed. This was the mid-eighties so we segmented off by fashion — the preps with their pastels and popped collars, the jocks with their letterman jackets and team sweatshirts, the denim and leather crowd rocking a concert t-shirt. The styles varied, but one thing you didn’t want to do was show up to a party dressed in such a way that you would stick out.
Matthew 22 starts with another parable, that of the wedding feast. This is coming to be a royal feast with all of the trimmings. The king has commissioning the killing of bulls and fattened calves. He has invited all of his friends to celebrate the nuptials of his son. The so-called friends snub the invitation and the king’s ire is raised. So he sends out his slaves into the streets to invite anyone who might like to attend. Many come and a great feast is had.
Jesus’ point is clear in this parable. The upstanding Jews and their religious leaders have been invited to celebrate God’s son Jesus but they have rejected the invitation. Now, it is no surprise that the rabble of society are sitting down to eat with Jesus — not to mention the Gentiles who will come next. They gladly received the invitation.
It is the ending of the parable I took notice of this time:
But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who wasn’t wearing a wedding suit. (22:11)
The king is indignant and has the man thrown out with an empty belly and rejection.
A bit of background here might help. The guests who do respond to the invitation appear to be a poorer lot and they were not expecting the party. They would not have had the appropriate attire readily available. It also was a custom that a rich host like this one would provide the wedding clothes for the feast. Thus, if a guest is sitting in the feast without the prerequisite clothes, it is only because he has rejected the king’s clothes and desires to disregard protocol and decorum. It is this rebellious spirit the king cannot abide.
What is the appropriate dress for us today as we celebrate the upcoming wedding feast of the Church to the Lamb?
Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Romans 13:13-14)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:12-13)
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)