Filthy Rags to Righteous Robes

Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 4 Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

What do you usually wear to a wedding? Have you ever seen anyone wear shorts and a tee-shirt to a wedding? No. How about pajamas? No. It’s common knowledge that those are not generally choices for wedding attire. People only show up to weddings wearing their best. That’s most likely suits for guys and dresses for ladies. We see a similar situation here in this parable that Christ tells the Pharisees. The parable is about a wedding feast that was hosted by a king. He goes out into the country side, to all the highways and byways, and invites everyone who had been sent the initial invitation to the wedding. However, each time that he goes out to call them, they harass, abuse and even murder his servants. Due to their disrespect and disregard towards him, he destroys them and then sets out to invite everyone else who was left on the streets. These were the people who formerly weren’t worthy of being invited. They were more than happy to join the wedding feast because they weren’t expecting to attend. There was only one small requirement: in order to come to the wedding feast and sit in the presence of the king, they had to be dressed appropriately. However, we see that one individual comes dressed in ragged clothes. Due to his inappropriate attire he is actually thrown out, along with those who initially rejected the invitation!

Have you ever read this parable that Jesus told the Pharisees and wonder what it meant!? We know from the Bible that Jesus is actually talking about the covenant that God made with His people. God, several hundred years before Christ, chose the Israelites as His own people because of the righteousness of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A promise was made with the Jews that if they served God, obeyed His commandments and did not stray away or follow other nations, He would watch over them, bless them and protect them. We see over the course of history that they do not stay loyal to the covenant but instead they completely forget God who brought them out of their misery in Egypt. Rather, they turn to the gods of other nations and actually murder the prophets who God sends to call them back to Him. They were the intended guests of the wedding feast but they had rejected their king. What does God do in return? We see that because they rejected Him, He lets them be taken captive, imprisoned by other nations, killed and even tortured in more recent history because of their disloyalty. Since the Jews rejected Him, God actually extends His covenant to everyone. His salvation was no longer limited just to the Jews but now even the Gentiles were able to receive His blessings. That includes both you and I! We were the evil individuals who received the latter invite for God’s wedding feast! But not everyone is allowed in just as they are. We see that some were not properly dressed even though their robes were given to them, and because of that they are cast out. This is representative of the salvation that is offered to all people. We are invited to join God in His heavenly kingdom but we must have on the robes of righteousness that can only be attained through accepting the work of salvation. From John 14:6 we read:

John 14:6

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'”

The only entrance into God’s kingdom is through the acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins on the cross of Calvary.

If we look at our previous condition to what we have become changed into, we see that an awesome transformation has been done! In Romans 3:10-12 we read:

Romans 3:10-12

“as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.'”

We see from these verses that no one is counted righteous at all. There is no one who seeks God, there isn’t even anyone who does good. Not even one person! We see from Scripture that even what we did have to offer before Him was counted as nothing! We read in Isaiah 64:6:

Isaiah 64:6

“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

Even the most righteous act that we could bring before Him was considered as filthy rags. We were clothed in that, we were completely separated from God, we were sinking in our sin, and drifting further and further from Him. We actually see that when we needed Him the most we actually despised and rejected Him! In Isaiah 53:4 we read:

Isaiah 53:4

“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

When we needed Him the most we completely rejected Him and wanted nothing to do with Him! But just because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross we see that a transfer has been made in our righteousness. In 1 Corinthians 1:30 we read:

1 Corinthians 1:30

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”

We can understand from this that we have a different standing before God because of Christ’s sacrifice. We are no longer viewed as individuals clothed in filthy rags but rather His children clothed in righteousness and counted as the same purity of Christ before God! We see the description of this in Isaiah 61:10 where it reads:

Isaiah 61:10

“I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

The transfer is complete! We no longer have to live our lives without hope. We can rest assured that we are viewed as perfect people in the presence of God when viewed through His son Christ Jesus. That means that all our filthy rags of  sin committed in the past, present, and future are now completely taken away and replaced by the righteousness of Christ that we are adorned in. We now have the capability to approach the presence of God with all boldness and can have a personal relationship with Him without any fear of imperfection or unworthiness.

With robes of righteousness comes responsibility. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Though we no longer have to fear coming before the presence of God, we do have the responsibility to live as the new transformed creation we have become. That means putting aside our old ways and walking according to the light of the salvation we have received. When others view us, what do they see? Do they see a person that calls himself a Christian but then does everything that others do? Or do they see someone who is different from the rest? Someone who makes them question why that’s the case? If we don’t cause that pricking in the lives of others we aren’t doing our job. Others are drawn to the faith by the testimony we keep. We are His ambassadors who have been called out of darkness, given a new hope, and clothed in righteousness so that we can proclaim the good news of Christ to others through our actions! Lets strive to be living testimonies for Him that proclaim His good work in our lives through everything we do!

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