Playing Dress Up Before God?

Text: Matthew 22:1-14

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

In today’s Gospel reading it makes sense why the King sends out his army to destroy the city.  You see, the King graciously invited guests. The wedding banquet was all set.  However, the guests paid no attention to the invitation.  If this was not bad enough, these guests seized the King’s servants, mistreated them, and then killed them! 

What a bunch of jerks!  They snubbed the Kings invitation and killed the messengers to boot.

And so, the King’s response makes sense.  The guests got what was coming.  Justice was served; they were destroyed. 

But things do not make sense when we hear about the man who was at the wedding celebration without a garment.  You see, after the city was destroyed, the invitation went out far and wide, which resulted in all sorts of people at the great wedding feast.  However, the King noticed a man who was not wearing a wedding garment.  This was problematic because all of the guests who came to wedding feast were given robes.  Therefore, this man was a hypocrite.  He accepted the invitation to come to the wedding but did not wear the wedding clothes of the King.  He was straddling the fence. 

And so, this man who came to the great feast ended up bound hand and foot and taken away because he wasn’t wearing the wedding garment.  He was cast into the darkness outside – away from the laughter, food, joy, and warmth of the celebration. 

So, what does all this mean? 

Well, this parable – this story of Jesus – seems to be pointing us to the importance of the wedding garment.  That is to say; we can understand why the King destroyed the guests who refused to come to the feast but where our attention gravitates towards is the wedding garments. 

Dear friends, today’s parable indeed wants us to focus on the wedding garments.  Without the garments, the man was thrown out into the darkness.  With the garments, he would’ve been safe and sound inside – feasting and celebrating.  Again, it seems that the wedding garments are important when one stands before the King.  What a person wears and how they present themselves before the King matters. 

Now, this garment in the parable should remind us of our first parents – Adam and Eve.  Way back in the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned, we read that they sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness and shame. Yes, after they rebelled against the Lord, Adam and Eve realized their nakedness and felt shame.  So, they covered their shame with garments made of fig leaves, and we have been acquiring fig leaves to cover our shame ever since.

You see, that is how it works with the fig leaves – garments.  We invent and manufacture garments to cover our nakedness and shame.  Just like Adam and Eve, every one of us creates and sews together garments to cover our shame. 

So what are your fig leaves?  What garments are you wearing to cover up your shame and disobedience before God?  What do you wear and dress up with? 

Do you dress up in money and think those little pieces of paper can cover your shame? 

Do you dress up in working out to keep a fit and beautiful body to offset the sinful heart? 

Do you try to cover over your sin and shame by trying to please everyone so that they all really like you? 

Do you put on the garments of gossip, thinking that if you invite others to always see somebody else’s shame they won’t notice yours? 

Or, do cover yourself with medals of achievement and certificates of merit – all the good things that you have done? 

Dear friends, we all play dress up – don’t we? 

Unfortunately, though, the things that we dress up with are not effective.  They do not cut it.  When God came to Adam and Eve, He saw right through their garments that they had sewed together.  He saw their shame.  He saw their sin.  And the same is true for you and me.  The Lord see through our dress up clothes – the facades that we create.  The Lord knows that we are a bunch of naked, shameful, and rebellious sinners who are scurrying around trying to cover our shame – worried that someone else will see through our cover-ups and know that we are fakes. 

In the Garden of Eden though, God did not let Adam and Eve wear their manmade fig leaves.  But instead, the Lord shed blood.  He shed the blood of an animal – maybe a Lamb – and the garments of the animal covered Adam and Eve.  Indeed, the Lord covered their shame.  An innocent animal was sacrificed in their place, and the garments of the animal clothed their nakedness. 

As we look back at today’s parable in the Gospel of Matthew, it might start to make sense to us.  You see, to understand the anger of the King, we have to understand that the King is the one who supplies the wedding garments as a gift.  And since the King in the parable represents God the Father, we realize that providing a wedding garment is not an easy task.  God the Father doesn’t order a bunch of wedding garments from, but rather, these wedding garments are provided through the death and resurrection of Jesus – the shed blood of Christ.  They are not cheap garments but purchased at the blood of the Son of God.       

At the cross of Calvary, Jesus nakedly died for your shame and rebellion.  There He was stripped of His garment to provide you the seamless garment of His very own holiness. 

And so, to appear at that great wedding feast – which is heaven – before God the Father without the garment of Jesus’ holiness is foolish! 

And what is even more foolish?  What is even more foolish is to stand before God the Father with our dress-up clothes.  God not sees right through our dress-up clothes.  Anything other than the garments of Jesus’ righteousness is disrespectful.  Yes, it shows disrespect for the priceless garments that the Father has provided for us in Christ.  To stand before the Father dressed up in our silly clothes is to insult the free gift of Christ’s righteous garments. 

Make no mistake, dear friends, standing before God the Father without any garments or with our dress-up clothes will arouse the Father’s anger – in fact, it is the only thing left that does arouse it.

So what are you wearing today? 

Are you wearing dress up clothes?  If so, repent. 

Do you think that you will be o.k. without any garments?  If so, repent! 

Yes, repent and hear the good news! 

When you were baptized, the Great King not only invited you by name to His banquet, but He gave you the wedding garment.  He put on you the holiness of Jesus  He wrapped you in the glory of Jesus’ own perfect life of love.

He gave it to you as your very own for time and eternity, and He invites you to wear it with joy and gladness all the days of your life. 

This is why we wrap the newly baptized in a white garment after Baptism.  This is why we wrap our caskets with a white funeral pall.  This is how we show that we are wrapped in the garment of Christ’s righteousness.  This is how we show that we ready for the great banquet! 

We also show this by clothing the pastor in a white alb.  The white albs that pastors and acolytes wear are not showing some intrinsic holiness in the person but point to the robe of Christ’s righteousness. 

Dear Baptized Saints, you’ve got to wear something to live in this world; you’ve got to wear something when you appear before the Lord on the Day of Judgment.  And you do!  You are clothed in Jesus Christ’s righteousness.  You are baptized into Christ’s death and life.  You have been wrapped in His life.

Never take Him off; never be found without Him.  But be clothed in Him, knowing that you have a seat before the King at the great banquet and that you never have to fear the darkness, for you are clothed in Jesus. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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