Thursday, February 18, 2016

Your Wedding Clothes

I have been to weddings. Even today, people tend to upgrade their normal apparel prior to attendance. I guess it's suppose to be a sign of respect or maybe competition. I confess to not fully grasping the whole wedding tradition thing and I know it varies by culture as to what one wears, but generally speaking, since it's supposed to be a joyous occasion, a social event and a place to be seen, people will try to look their best.

Some among the younger set that are obsessed with love and the idea of being in love will bring their prospective partner to show them how it is done and what the process looks like. Others merely attend out of familial or friendly obligation, bringing the expected gift. Our culture's idea of what a wedding should be however, falls drastically short of what it was in Jesus' day.

In ancient times, the Jews would arrange marriages for their children. It was as much a financial transaction between families as it was a rite of passage into the final stages of adulthood. I am lead to believe that the betrothed couple would live together for a year prior to the wedding and later marital bliss. This was not a living together that involved sexual activity. This was forbidden. It was, rather, preparation for life together that measured compatibility in all other areas of real life. It was a test drive of everything accept the actual equipment, if I might be so bold.

When the wedding actually took place, it would be a major social event. The parents would invite friends and family and then announce when everything had been prepared. It was a literal feast and people would stay in your house during the entire event. The celebration would go on for days, maybe even a week. Both the ceremony and the consummation of the marriage would take place during the event. The consummation would take place in a room off the main wedding hall. Sometimes it was private. At other times there were a small number of witnesses, usually older women. The prospect of marriage is intimidating for many men, but I cannot imagine my first time around the block with a room full of old ladies behind a screen. Their purpose in being there was to confirm consummation. When the act was complete, they would check the sheets for blood. I would think such traditions would be enough to drive any man from the culture, but apparently it did not. But I digress. I'm here to talk a about Jesus' parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22.

    Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
“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.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
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.”

Now if you have read what is above, you are aware that the king's initial invitees refused his invitation. The result was that the king decided to bring in people off the streets - people that had no real preparation for such a feast - people that were not initially good friends of the king. These people, being street people, were probably not wealthy and were ill prepared for such a formal event. It has been suggested that the king and his servants had to provide these people with wedding clothes, since they probably had none of their own or even the time to go home and change. And this is why the king is shocked by the presence of a man that is not properly dressed and has him thrown out.

The point of the parable is that those with wedding clothes (salvation and citizenship in the Kingdom) refused to attend (the Jews) and so the King (God) invited the impoverished people from the streets (the Gentiles) to His feast, going so far as to supply the means for attendance. 

We are saved because God provided the means for our salvation. We just have to choose to put on our wedding clothes.

Are you wearing them? Do you just get them out on Sundays? The wedding feast is in full swing. You do not want to be seen by the king without your wedding clothes. Put them on. You will look great. Trust me.

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