by Tad Lindley
Wearing a bow tie doesn’t make me a better teacher or a better preacher, but I wear it out of respect for the calling. Even the most expensive camo outfit from Cabelas won’t make you a better walrus hunter or a straighter shooter. Nevertheless, clothing matters. If I show up to a job interview for a teaching position in my best net hanging clothes (slip-ons, soft pants, and gloves), they might not take me seriously. If you go geese hunting in your Search and Rescue neon orange jacket, the geese will see you a mile away, so while clothing can’t help you, it can hurt you.
Thrown out of the feast, because of his clothes
And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come…Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:1-14 NKJV)
What’s up with that?
I could probably spend a month or more in this column on the parable above. There is a lot in there, but I want to dial in right now on the guy that got caught without a wedding garment. It seems so strange that in the midst of this great celebration that the king would stop and toss this poor man out, and all over the fact that he wasn’t dressed appropriately for the wedding banquet.
The king provided the garment
Presumably the king was providing the garment. The people on his original guest list would have been wealthy enough to provide appropriate clothing, but remember they were making excuses and chose not to come. And so as they went out and invited anybody, they were inviting folks that were poor and folks that were broke. They were inviting homeless folks, and folks that had never been to the palace before. There is no way that the people on Guest List B could have all provided a wedding garment. It had to come from the king.
A heaven or hell issue?
It’s pretty clear from the language that Jesus uses at the end of the parable, “Cast him into outer darkness”, that he is referring to his second coming and to people either entering into the joy of the Lord or being cast into hell, and from there, the Lake of Fire. Furthermore, we know that if we are rotten on the inside, fancy clothes on the outside does nothing to save us, so how can we dress for success with Jesus?
Dress for success: baptism
The Bible tells us this in Galatians 3:27, For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Now it should be enough that Jesus claimed that baptism (in the Greek, fully immersed) was essential to salvation way back in Mark 16:16, but if you had any doubts about it this should convince you. Although baptism is our choice, it is the Lord’s work, and in doing so we are putting on Jesus. Peter put it like this, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins… (Acts 2:38)
Dress for success: a repentant life
Once we have repented of our past sin and put on Christ through Baptism in Jesus’ name, we need put on what the Bible calls the “new man”. Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24 NKJV)
Can’t afford the garment”
You may be reading this and be thinking, “I can’t live like that, I’m not good enough.” None of us are. That’s why it is important to understand that the King provided the wedding garment in the parable. Jesus purchased our garment at Calvary (see Acts 20:10) and it is he that washes our sins away in water baptism in His name, and fills us with the Holy Ghost giving us the power to put on the new man. What are you waiting for? Dress for success!
Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church.