“Get Your Clothes ON” Matthew 22:1-14

Introduction:  historically Christians have recognized four states that people are in, in terms of their faith

Think about it like a box with two columns and two rows—so it’s one big box, made up of four little boxes

  • The columns are labeled “assured they are saved” and “not sure they are saved”
  • The rows are labeled “unsaved” and “saved”
  • This means the four states are:
    • Saved and you know it
    • Saved and you don’t know it
    • Unsaved and you know it—these are the people who don’t really care about being saved
    • And the most dangerous category of all:  unsaved but they think they are saved
      • In our day, this is the person who “made a decision once”, walked the aisle, signed the card and relies on that instead of true, active, faith in reliance on Jesus and the means of grace for salvation
      • This category is also the church person who has all the outward trappings of faith, but under that veneer there’s nothing—their faith is in themselves and their ability to be good
      • This is where the religious leaders who Jesus is talking to are
        • They think they’re saved, but Jesus is telling them no, you need true righteousness
        • Martin Luther–“alien righteousness”
      • And this is why Jesus tells us the parable of the wedding feast

Four points:  1. the Parable in two acts; 2. The People; 3. The Promised Fruit; 4.Get Your Clothes On!

  1. The Parable in Two Acts—the first act:  the invitation, the second act: the feast
    1. The Invitation—the first act
      1. The king’s son is getting married, so the king sends out invitations to the usual suspects—presumably the dignitaries and privileged people, you know—the upper class
        1. Here’s a cultural tidbit, that helps us understand the parable—there were typically two invitations
        1. Preliminary—they already committed sometime in the past
        1. The second invitation for when the date is set…
        1. So, when they refuse it’s a disgrace—that’s why, in v.7,  “the king was angry and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city”
        1. They had said “yes” but then decided “no”
      1. So he sends out more invitations:  “the feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.  Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.”
        1. This time the wedding hall was filled
        1. The guests were both good and bad (v.10)
    1. The Feast—the second act
      1. This has to do with the fact that the guests were collected from both “good and bad”
      1. Everyone is there but there’s a guy that came without the proper clothes—everyone else is decked out in fine clothes but he’s there in the tank top and shorts that he wears to cut the grass
        1. Wm. Hendriksen reminds us that these guests were from the underprivileged, so why the fuss about the clothes?  He comments, “by the command of the king and from his bountiful supplies, at the very entrance of the wedding hall a wedding robe had been offered to each guest. All except this one person had accepted the robe. This one man, however, had looked at his own robe, had perhaps lightly brushed it off with his hand, and had then told the attendant, “My own robe is good enough. I don’t need the one you’re offering me.” Then, in an attitude of self-satisfaction and defiance, he had marched to the table, where he was presently reclining[1]
      1. He’s cast into the outer darkness where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth
    1. Jesus finishes with the epithet:  “many are called but few are chosen”
      1. Essentially we have a parable about the gospel call which goes out to everyone, versus the effectual call which is the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration and faith in a person
      1. Like the weeds and wheat in chapter 13—there is an unbelieving portion in God’s covenant people
  2. The People—Jesus tells this parable as a warning to the Jews who were rejecting him
    1. The first invitees were the religious leaders and most of Israel who rejected Jesus—in particular, Jesus is aiming this at the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and elders though
      1. They’re the covenant people of God    
        1. The first invite—the OT, the Old Covenant
        1. The second invite is here—Jesus who fulfills the Old Covenant
      1. Just like the parable of the tenants—the King’s servants are the totality of the Old Covenant, which includes Jesus
      1. They are rejecting everything that they believe they are holding so dear, because their faith is mistakenly placed on themselves
    1. Sometimes people have interpreted this parable and others like it to make the church and Israel two radically different people—that’s not true at all
      1. Part of the bible’s story is that God always preserves a remnant
      1. In the midst of apostatic Israel there was always a faithful remnant
        1. Invisible church vs. visible church, True Israel (circumcised in the heart) vs. Israel in name only (circumcised only in the flesh)
        1. Amos 9:8  Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom (Israel), and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground, except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” declares the LORD.
          1. Judgment for the nation’s sin
          1. But preservation of a remnant which will be restored
    1. Jesus is condemning Israel for not believing God’s word—
      1. The law won’t save you, it is only meant to lead you to the Savior who keeps the law for you
      1. They began to believe it did—that keeping the law was within their reach
      1. Anyone who thinks that hasn’t really seen his own heart
  3. The Promised Fruit—this parable warns false believers and encourages true believers
    1. The warning—judgement reveals your heart;  the encouragement—you don’t have to wait until the end to know that you are converted and your faith is real
    1. The warning—are you trusting in Christ as he is offered in the gospel?
      1. The OT gospel is spelled out in “God will provide”—Jesus is that provision
      1. The religious leaders didn’t trust that God provided in Jesus—they were trusting in something else
        1. Their obedience, their own purity
        1. Their religious activity and guarding the law
        1. In essence, they were trusting in themselves
      1. They had come to the wedding feast clothed in their own works, in their own righteousness, in their ability to love others as God loves
        1. This is impossible—we can’t do that!!
      1. Church people—examine yourself that you aren’t wearing your clothes, but you’ve put on the clothes the king has provided for you
        1. If God asks you what you’ve done for the church, what will you say?
        1. If God asked you why you were baptized, what would you say?
        1. Only Jesus and his righteousness
    1. The Encouragement:  This is where the promised fruit comes in
      1. We’ll look at our Approach with the idea in mind that these passages help us discern if we have indeed put on the right clothes for the feast
      1. The gospel comes with a guarantee of God’s sovereign work, the gospel is absolutely going to do what it is supposed to
        1. 1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
        1. The Apostle John wanted his hearers to absolutely know that they have eternal life
        1. In v. 10-12 we see what John means by “these things”:
          1. Belief in the name of the son of God
          1. The testimony of faith that God sent the Son
          1. And that in the Son, God gives life
        1. Notice that the content of “these things” is doctrinal truth
          1. Doctrine=something that is taught
          1. Test your faith by testing yourself to see if you believe in Jesus to save you from your sin, do you believe God sent Jesus, and that in Jesus you are given life?
          1. Salvation is that easy and that free
      1. God gives us more to strengthen our faith:  2 Peter 1:10 therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
        1. The qualities Peter set before us are expressions of the faith which the Holy Spirit works within us
        1. Virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.
        1. The gospel will have an effect on you—you will grow in holiness.
          1. Php 1:6 :”he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”
        1. Want to grow in your assurance? Be attentive to the work of the Holy Spirit in you and take to heart Zechariah’s words, “whoever despised the day of small things shall rejoice”
          1. In Zechariah’s time it was the new temple—much smaller, not nearly as nice as Solomon’s
          1. For us, it’s the slight incremental changes in our character, the smallest of improvement in our patience and daily desire for Christ’s love to be evident in us
          1. Don’t despise the small things—look for them and hold on to them
      1. And then in Eph. 2:8-10, we lean on truth in doctrine—it’s God’s grace alone from beginning to end
        1. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
        1. Grace is a hard pill to swallow—Grace is hard because it means we’re
          1. Guilty and should be punished
          1. Filthy in every aspect of our being and don’t deserve to be in the banquet hall, much less at his table
          1. In other words, dead in our sins
        1. Grace is ongoing, not just the entrance—“created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand”
          1. We are created in Christ
          1. Our good works are prepared in advance for us to do them
          1. We find assurance in the promise of Christ’s work for us on the cross
          1. And his ongoing work of working good through us now
        1. Do you believe Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried so that you would be forgiven?  Do you believe that in God’s sovereign plan Jesus will be glorified by your salvation?
          1. If so, there’s your assurance—not in you, but in God who saved you.
  4. Get Your Clothes On—
    1. Christ is the only clothing that will keep you in the banquet
      1. Gal. 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” 
        1. That is the baptism of the Holy Spirit—conversion
        1. The believer has put on Christ
      1. Paul isn’t saying this as an encouragement for you to go and do something
      1. He states it as a fact, “You have put on Christ”
        1. like Aaron and sons had to put on the right priestly robes to enter into the Tabernacle, to come into God’s presence we’re required to put on Christ through faith!
        1. Just like God supplied Aaron’s robes, God gave us Christ Jesus
        1. You have put on Christ!
    1. This is a great comfort for us, because even though we lack assurance at times—our salvation isn’t dependent on your feeling of assurance.
      1. First, Truth is truth right?  It’s true no matter what—that’s the definition of truth. 
        1. Like Andy’s unqualified evaluation of Oatmeal raisin cookies as superior to chocolate chip is absolutely false
        1. Truth is truth no matter if you believe it.
      1. This means the promises in the Bible are real, they are true, no matter how you feel them about them.
        1. Your feeling of assurance is never the ground of your salvation—if it is we’re all sunk
        1. God’s promises fulfilled in Jesus are the ground of your salvation
      1. The central promise—Immanuel
        1. Lost in the garden
        1. Regained at the cross
        1. Fulfilled at Pentecost
        1. You, believer, are the temple of God—the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you, and working in you.  Here are three benefits the Holy Spirit—God himself living in you, gives you—NOW
          1. Protecting your heart from falling away—sealed you as the guarantor of salvation
          1. Teaching your faith—the helper who repeats Jesus’ words directly to your soul
          1. Glorifying Jesus in and through you
      1. So, what we have to do, what John told us to do, what Paul says is true of us, we don’t look inward for our assurance, and what Peter warns us about when he says, “he’s forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins”—we look outward to the truth of the gospel.
        1. We hear “Assurance” and think our faith is the key to assurance
          1. Navel-gazing to examine how I think and how I feel
          1. The problem—I’m a sinner and I’m fickle
        1. Remind yourself of the promises of God
        1. Remind yourself of God’s past work—tell yourself about his glorious deeds revealed in the Bible and the glorious deeds he’s done for you personally
        1. Remind yourself that God’s timing isn’t yours—wait on the Lord, and long for him to show up
          1. As the hart longs for flowing streams
          1. So longs my soul for Thee O God
          1. My soul does thirst for the living God
          1. When shall I come to see Thy face?
        1. And remind yourself that his ways are higher than yours
          1. God brings evil for the purpose of redemption and a greater good to come.
    1. The essence of Christian life is faith—a long slow obedience in the same direction, full of starts and stops, times of joy interspersed with times that you of deep desperation
      1. We all need to be reminded that God remains faithful in the times when everything around you seems to be screaming he’s not
      1. That’s where the rubber meets the road—when we look to our Jesus and say, “I believe, help my unbelief!”
        1. Look away from yourself and look to your Savior.
        1. Lean heavily on God
          1. Admit your feelings to him and about him
            1. You are fallen
            1. The situation is fallen
            1. The world is fallen
            1. It doesn’t do you any good to cover up your true feelings of anger, guilt, rage, or desire for a sinful outcome
            1. God’s shoulders are big…
          1. Pray for his help in every way that you need it
          1. It’s in your weakness, in this trial, that his grace will be revealed through you and in you and to you—Get your clothes on, put Christ on again.

[1] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew, vol. 9, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 797.