An answer to a puzzling passage of scripture.

Please start by reading Matthew 22:1-14, The Parable of the Wedding Banquet.

Have you ever wondered why the King would be so unkind, and punish a man for wearing the wrong clothes? After all, didn’t the king invite this guest in off the street at the last minute, and many others like him? (verses 9-10).

This is puzzling. The guest seems to be punished harshly for nothing but a simple dress code violation.

Answer: In the culture of the first century a wealthy family hosting a lavish wedding would provide appropriate clothes or smart over garments for guests who needed them. Everyone was provided for, and all would be honoured by the fact that everyone was dignified wearing ‘wedding clothes.’ The fact that one person was not wearing wedding clothes means they had refused the offer of the King to put on appropriate attire.

Did you notice the way the King addressed the man? “Friend” (verse 12). A gentle inquiry as to why he wasn’t dressed up. Notice also that the King asked the man “how did you get in here?” The King knows the answer, and so does the man. Many people ‘got in’ without wedding clothes. They entered on the King’s gracious invitation, and not because they were already dressed up or worthy.

The question was an opportunity for the man to reflect on the King’s kindness. The guest got into the King’s house and hospitality by grace, and was then offered clothes to put on. He accepted the first offer but refused the second, as if to say, “I change for no one!”

Notice that the man also refused even to talk to the King! He was silent or “speechless” when asked about his clothes. This is the same word Peter used later in 1 Peter 2:15.

“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”

1 Peter 2:15

The guest was deliberately ignorant and foolish, and refused to consider the King’s kindness or accept his gift of clothing. He was not innocent of a clothing mistake, he was guilty of taking the King’s hospitality and rejecting the King himself.

This is a picture of God’s offer of salvation to all people. We are all invited, from the streets and lanes. We are all welcomed into God’s presence freely. We are all offered the ‘robes of righteousness’ of Jesus to wear. To be clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27) is to accept his free gift of righteousness by faith.

We don’t have to be righteous to get into God’s presence, but we do have to humble ourselves and accept Christ’s sacrifice in order to stay. This puzzle is an illustration of God’s grace and love. Our ministry as Christians and as broadcasters is to invite everyone into God’s presence, and encourage them to accept the free ‘clothes’ of Jesus, and enjoy God’s friendship forever.

Puzzle solved?

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