The First and Second Round Draft Invitees
Matthew 22:11-12 says, “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw a man there who had no wedding garment. He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And the man was speechless.” Long, long ago in a land far, far away, if a wedding was held in a royal court, special wedding garments were provided the guests by the king himself. A feast filled with properly dressed guests would be an honor to the king and to the marriage. So, a person who was not dressed properly would bring dishonor upon the host and ruin the happy occasion.
That brings us to Matthew 22:8-9, where Jesus says, “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’” The King’s original guests, who were too busy to be bothered, also disrespected and disregarded the invitation. The second round of invited guests were a random mix and motley crew, and because it was the king’s feast, they were given clothes to wear.
The invitation has a Cost
Imagine their surprise and excitement at being able to participate in something they would normally never be invited to! But if you continue reading the story in Matthew 22, we meet the one guest in the second group who accepts the invitation, but refuses the fine clothing provided by the king. That decision gets him booted out. Wow! So does this contradict Jesus’s invitation to ‘Come as you are?’ Not at all! We just need to learn what the story is trying to teach us – the invitation has a cost. Jesus invites us to come but wants us to know that coming to Him means that we “take up His yoke” and “pick up our cross” and that we “follow Him.” AKA – put on the clothes He gives us.
God’s Armor is our New Clothing
When we come to God, there is also the whole armor of God thing, which we are instructed to put on everyday so that “we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes.” If we approach each day saying, in essence, “Nah, I’m good with what I have on,” then it should not surprise us if our feet keep slipping off the straight and narrow path! Why am I being taken captive by thoughts and people? Why am I full of anger and so disagreeable? Why do I feel tossed about or tossed out? God provides His armor for us each new day to protect and guard us but I need to take off our clothes, which compared to what the King has offered, are nothing but dirty rags anyway! Why would we choose the dirty rags of pride, control, and our will over God’s will? Our human clothing over His divine clothing?
God does not force His garments upon us. He offers them, and we can accept or reject His offer. He offers us His yoke, to walk and work side by side with Him, and we can accept or reject His offer. He offers a cross that can crucify our pride, control, and self-will. And He offers us His armor, which allows us to stand firm (Ephesians 6:13). We can take the offer or wind up like the wedding guest in Matthew 22, who refused what was offered and it just didn’t go well for him.
What Will You Do with YOUR Invitation?
It is a new day. So, what’s your choice? Your rags or God’s clothes? His armor, yoke, cross, provision? Seems like such an obvious answer and yet so few of us make the exchange and armor up.