Filthy Rags v. Wedding Clothes

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet 

(See Matthew 22:1-14)

In order to understand the passage as a whole it is important you first read it in its entirety. But I want to focus specifically on verses 11-13.

v. 11-13 Until today I thought it to be cruel and perplexing that the King would throw the man without wedding clothes into the street (ultimately representing Hell). After all, the King had invited anybody off the street to join him at his wedding banquet. How could he expect everyone to have wedding clothes readily available?

But then I read the commentary on this passage from my NIV Study Bible: “It may have been the custom for a host to provide guests with wedding garments. This would have been necessary for the guests at this banquet in particular, for they were brought in directly from the streets (v. 9-10).” So here we see the man could have worn the garments provided for him by the King, yet it appears he refused for some reason unbeknownst to us.

What the commentary said next especially struck me: “The failure of the man in question to avail himself of a wedding garment was therefore an insult to the host, who had made the garments available.” At this point I remembered the verse in Isaiah where it says, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (64:6).

The garments in the parable represent the Blood of Jesus! Nobody can enter into heaven by their own good works, despite what so many believe. God has offered us a FREE GIFT- the wedding clothes- yet the man did not receive them. Therefore, God could not allow him in His presence.

The King was not cruel at all. In fact, he was generous! He invited anybody off the street and gave to each one garments to replace their filthy rags. This man made a deliberate choice to keep his rags, rather than exchanging them for the King’s clothes.

When we receive God’s free gift of salvation through faith alone in Jesus Christ, we exchange our filthy garments for the righteousness of Christ. We acknowledge we are dirty and in need of a Savior. We let go of the lies that we can get to heaven by “being good” and that the things we’ve done “aren’t so bad.”

Clearly this man did not see his need to lay aside his filthy rags. Until we have been cleansed, God still sees us as filthy, depraved, and wretched. Let us be careful to test ourselves and be sure we are covered by the Blood of the Lamb, rather than relying on our own self-righteousness to get into heaven. Remember, “He save us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy” (Titus 3:5).

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