Jesus was telling a parable about a royal wedding (Matthew 22:1-14). The king (representing God) was throwing a celebration for his son (representing Jesus), but all the guests (the Jewish people) snubbed the king and refused to attend. So, the king extended his invitation to the everyday man – the kind of people who wouldn’t ordinarily be invited to such an event. We see in this first part of Jesus’ parable, that God’s invitation into the kingdom of God is open to everyone: from the Jews to the Gentiles, religious elite to the convicted felon, and everyone in between.
The story continues: In the middle of the festivities, the king spots someone severely underdressed. Now, Augustine was the first to write about how royals would often provide wedding clothes and robes for all guests. In the same way that some schools provide uniforms for all students to feel on equal footing – no matter their financial status – the king would provide garments so that everyone felt welcomed. It was part of the honor of being invited. For a person to ignore that offering was the ultimate in arrogance and insult. So, what was Jesus getting at?
Jesus was teaching about God’s kingdom where righteousness is the proper attire. The under dressed guest assumed that his actions, his “righteous deeds,” were good enough on their own – but they weren’t even close! And the only way that anyone can trade in their self-righteous rags for God’s cloak of righteousness is through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In other words, it means no longer sitting on the throne of our life, but submitting our life to Christ. Only then are we clothed with attire fitting God’s kingdom – a robe of righteousness.
Just like many refused the king’s invitation, we live in a culture where many reject the gospel. Some are too busy, others apathetic, while still others show up to the party in their own “self-righteous rags,” completely dismissing the king’s generous gift of something infinitely better. Take a look at your life. Where do you fit in this parable? Will you accept the king’s offer?