As part of a Bible study on James, I spent some time researching and meditating on the parable of the wedding feast (Matt. 22:1-14). The verses related, in the James study, to whether we can lose our eternal rewards. Better than that, however, I think this scripture ties in well with my previous thoughts on salvation.
There are two main points in this parable that are just as relevant today as they were to the original audience. The text compares “the kingdom of heaven” to a wedding feast, which implies this is about our salvation. The imagery described provides a dire need for us to pay attention and understand what Jesus meant by these words, as the scenarios for those who did not were disastrous!
The first point of this parable is that being invited does not mean you will be present at the wedding feast! God gives us all free will to choose to accept His invitation. The Jews believed they were “chosen” and set apart for heaven. That may be true, but they were too busy living their religious lives that they did not attend the feast of the king. Or worse, they were violently opposed to the king!
This lesson is every bit as applicable to us today as it was for the Pharisees! It doesn’t matter who you are, who you’re related to, or what you have done… You are single-handedly responsible for accepting Jesus’ invitation to attend His feast. Only you can make sure you will be in heaven.
You can’t get there by your works, or even being holy enough, because Jesus was the only sinless man! We are so far away from Jesus’ perfection that we cannot fellowship with God! But, God loved us so much that He allowed His only Son to die for our sins. The greatest part is, He wants us to spend eternity with Him!
But, we have to believe in Him and trust that we are saved because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Not making a decision to be at the wedding feast is just as detrimental as choosing not to be there!
All of mankind is invited to the wedding, and Jesus desires your presence. He invited everyone, but not everyone who attended the feast was allowed to remain….
There was a man, not wearing the proper garment, who caused the king to tell his attendant “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 22:13).”
That doesn’t sound too promising, especially in light of hell being described in the same manner elsewhere in the gospels! But, what does the garment refer to?
Fashion?? Not exactly!
I don’t believe the king expected the common people to have the appropriate attire for the wedding, therefore I believe it was provided for them. That means if someone was not wearing the garment, it would have been an act of blatant disregard for the king!
I take this part of the parable to mean this… The garment represents our trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and for our salvation. However, if someone accepts Jesus’ invitation for salvation, but continues in their rampant indulgence of sin, while completely ignoring the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then maybe they did not truly understand what Jesus did for them on Calvary!
I am not implying that once we accept Jesus’ gift of salvation that we have to immediately stop sinning and have our lives completely together. But, I do believe we must be open to the change!
Jesus did not die for our sins so we would have an excuse to continue exactly as we were, completely unchanged. We were reborn in Him, given a second (and third, and fourth, and infinite) chance to do better! God wants our heart, all of us, not just a “one and done” prayer. It’s a lifelong journey, but the rewards are eternal!
Have you accepted God’s gift of salvation? It may seem scary to go from a worldly, finite view of life to an infinite, spiritual one, but God will help you make the transition. He will be with you every step of the way, and the journey is exciting! You will learn so much about yourself and God when you embark on this path; it’s amazing!
God doesn’t expect perfection from you, but rather a heart that wants to grow to be more like Him! He’s preparing us to spend eternity with Him in heaven.
I wouldn’t choose any other way, would you?