The King sent a second group of servants out to persuade the people to come; as all was ready to be enjoyed. Still, they did not take the message seriously, and each went back to his own business. Those who remained of the invitees were a violent sort, and treated the servants cruelly, even to the point of murder. When the king found out about this atrocity which was committed, he was outraged; and sent his armies to take vengeance on the murderers, and demolish their city.
After all this turn of events, the king said to his servants that the guests formerly invited were unworthy of the honor of attending the celebration. He commanded the servants to search high and low throughout the region, and invite every single person they could find to attend the marriage feast, whether bad or good.
After they did so, there was no shortage of guests – the palace was filled to overflowing! The king came in to take a look at the turnout; but something was amiss. There was one man who was found to be without a wedding garment. The king sharply rebuked him, saying “Friend, how did you get in to my palace with no wedding garment?”, but the man had nothing to say for himself. So the king commanded his servants to bind up the man, and remove him from the ceremony and cast him out, alone, into complete darkness.
Many were called, but few were chosen.
Wait, wait, wait. That’s it? That can’t be the end of the story. No “happily ever after”?
You’ve probably guessed by now…this is no fairy tale, but is in fact a true story; and it is found in Matthew 22:1-14. The king is God, the son is Jesus, and we are the invitees.
The ending is bleak, but has an important message for us.
What I really want to point out with this story is the man who lacked a wedding garment. What is the significance…why is an article of clothing so important? Well, clothing in the bible is a representation of what kind of person we are. When the bible speaks of putting on a garment, the picture (or type) it is portraying is the putting on of character.
A crucial element in the parable to consider is this: the man without the wedding garment accepted the king’s invitation. He wanted to be at the feast. Nonetheless, his desire was a selfish one, for he wanted to come to the feast on his own terms. By disregarding the custom of putting on a wedding garment, his attitude proclaimed that he thought he knew best, and thought he could get away with less than the king’s standard.
Let’s take a moment to ponder the consequence of his foolish notion.
[surrounded in complete and utter darkness]
[with weeping and gnashing of teeth]
Ladies, for our own good we can not sugarcoat this…the man was condemned to hell. This should be a sobering thought, for such will be our eternal reward if we will choose to put on our own garment (man’s wisdom) instead of God’s garment (wisdom from above).
Sure, we have free will, and we are welcome to do things our own way.
We can follow in the footsteps of Nadab and Abihu, who offered strange fire before the Lord [which He commanded them not]…but then again, they were devoured by fire, and “died there before the Lord”.
We can follow in the footsteps of Uzza who touched the ark of the covenant in a rash attempt to save it, even though the Lord had said touching the ark was to be done under no circumstance…but then again, God smote him and he “died before God“. (1 Chronicles 13:9-10)
We can follow in the footsteps of Lot’s wife, who took one last glance at her home as it burned to ash, even though she was under strict command to look solely ahead…but then again, she was turned into a pillar of salt and also died before God. (Genesis 19:26)
Friends, we have free will to live as we please – but are the consequences really worth it?
Sometimes we don’t understand why God has certain expectations of us, but we would do well to remember that His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts! (Isaiah 55:8-9) He is the KING! He knows what is best for us.
Now that we have looked at some passages of those who chose their own way instead of God’s ways, let us consider someone who did the opposite; a man who obeyed even when he did not understand the Lord’s reasoning.
“And he [Jesus] entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” Luke 5:1-5
Okay, so we’ve all heard this story before, and we know the conclusion…the incredible amount of fish that came from Lake Gennesaret, and Jesus’ memorable words: “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” (v. 10) For a moment, though, let’s key in on Simon’s words in verse 5: “nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net”….
Wow! Here we find true faith; an obedient faith. Think about it – who was the fisherman here? Simon. He knew the ropes better than just about anybody…but he recognized that Jesus knew even better than he, and Simon obeyed his Lord. The reward for that act was immeasurable.
In light of these pictures laid out for us in God’s word – which man are we?
Are we going to be the man thrown out of the kingdom because we think we know better than the King?
Or are we going to be the humble servant who proclaims “nevertheless, at thy word I will…”.
Let us take on a Simon spirit in our day-to-day lives and in our worship in the assembly. We ought to seek God’s will in every matter, for our salvation is too precious to treat carelessly. Instead of living in “sporadic surrender” to God, let us offer ourselves to Him in total and “supreme surrender”!
“Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” – Proverbs 23:23
God bless, and take a chill pill!
Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.