In last week’s BSF lesson, we read Matthew 22:1-14, the parable of the wedding feast. In this parable, Jesus is comparing the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast. The king (God) invites many to this royal event, but they are too busy with other concerns to attend, and even kill the servants who came with the invitation. The king then invites others who fill the banquet hall. Then one man shows up without the proper wedding garment and is thrown into the outer darkness.
If you read this passage without the larger context of the rest of Scripture, it may sound as though God invites people to the wedding, and if you can’t manage to get the right clothes on, you will be cast out. However, our lesson pointed us to other relevant passages of Scripture:
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.
The first verse tells us that our best deeds are only like a polluted garment, or as the NIV says, like filthy rags. But the second verse shows us how we get the proper wedding garment–from God Himself, who clothes us with the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness.
How do we get this garment of salvation from God? How can filthy rags be exchanged for a robe of righteousness? 1 Peter 2:24 tells us “He [Christ] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” And Philippians 3:8b-9 says, “in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
Christ wore our filthy rags on the cross. And God takes Christ’s robe of righteousness and puts it on us. My own fanciest wedding garment cannot get me into the kingdom of heaven. God requires a robe of righteousness, and He supplies it in Christ. If you are in Christ, when God looks at you, He does not see your own record of good deeds and bad. He sees Christ’s perfection, Christ’s righteousness.
So the question is: Whose clothes are you wearing? It is a question I am asking myself and that I need to be asking my kids as they grow in faith. Are we living as though we have been given a garment of salvation, living in obedience out of gratitude to God? Or do we think we can keep wearing our own clothes, working as hard as we can to keep them clean and hoping it will be good enough? I think this distinction is crucial to my kids’ understanding of the Gospel. I’d love to hear thoughts from anyone on how to make sure our kids understand this important truth.
From one of my favorite hymns, “How Much I Owe,” words by Robert Murray McCheyne:
When I stand before the throne, dressed in beauty not my own,
when I see Thee as Thou art, love Thee with unsinning heart,
then, Lord shall I fully know, not ’til then how much I owe.
Chosen not for good in me, wakened up from wrath to flee,
hidden in the Savior’s side, by the Spirit sanctified,
then, Lord shall I full know, not ’til then how much I owe.