11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
To summarize the main thrust of this allegorical parable, Douglas Hare writes:
“This is an allegory of salvation history. The king is clearly God; the wedding eeast or his son represents the messianic banquet (cf. Rev. 19:7-9). Those sent to invite the guests are God’s prophets, including Christian missionaries. The reference to the mistreatment of the king’s slaves recalls the tradition concerning Israel’s violent treatment of God’s prophets. The burning of the rebel’s city seems to be an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., an event that Christians regarded as God’s punishment upon Israel for its rejection of Jesus and the gospel. The invitation offered to others, “both bad and good,” signifies the Gentile mission of the church” (Hare, Interpretation Commentary, 251).
Now, near the end, we find the banquet hall full and a surprising punishment for one guest who failed to wear proper wedding attire. What’s going on here? Didn’t this poor person just get grabbed last minute off the street? Is not the hasty last minute invitation of the king to blame for his not having time to go home and dress up? Here we must remember that we are not dealing with an ordinary story but an allegory.
So, what is the spiritual truth behind image of the wedding garment? What does it represent?
The parable now unmasks the reality of hypocrisy among those gathered to God’s party. In every church there are those whose faith is not proved genuine by a changed life. The required garment is righteousness, that is, behavior in accordance with Jesus’ teachings (see Matt. 28:19). Matthew Henry says,”This man was not naked, or in rags; some raiment he had, but not a wedding garment. Those, and those only, who put on the Lord Jesus, that have a Christian temper of mind, and are adorned with Christian graces, who live by faith in Christ, and to whom he is all in all, have the wedding garment.” Or, again, “The man is speechless because he has no defense; he accepted the invitation of the gospel, but refused to conform his life to the gospel” (Hare, 252). Or, M. Augsburger: “This man sat at the wedding banquet but his hear twas not there” (Communicator’s Commentary, 252).
Jesus told two other parables that emphasized that the gathered people of God would be a mixed bag of both true disciples and hypocrites. The weeds are allowed to grow up among the wheat, and the rotten fish are pulled into the same net as the good fish.
But let those with ears to hear listen: It is only the King who has the right and ability to judge who is who! It is only the King who can cast one out into outer darkness.
This entire parable has to do with our appropriate response to God’s gracious call. In his grace, God has provided us with the proper wedding garment — for God clothes the redeemed (see Zech. 3:1-4; Isa. 61:10; Rev. 3:4-5, 18). Many are “called” or invited with the message of repentance (22:14; 21:32), but only those who respond worthily will share the inheritance of the chosen covenant people.
Have you responded to the invitation? Have you “put on Christ”? Will you be among the chosen? It’s your choice!