A man which had not on a wedding garment - In ancient times, kings and princes were accustomed to make presents of changes of raiment to their friends and favourites, to refuse to receive which was an expression of highest contempt, Genesis 45:22; 2 Kings 10:22; Esther 6:8; Esther 8:15. It was, of course, expected that such garments would be worn when they came into the presence of the benefactor. The garments worn on festival occasions were chiefly long white robes, and it was the custom of the person who made the feast to prepare such robes to be worn by the guests. This renders the conduct of this man more inexcusable. He came in his common and ordinary dress, as he was taken from the highway: and though he had not a garment of his own suitable for the occasion, yet one had been provided for him, if he had applied for it. His not doing it was expressive of the highest disrespect for the king. This beautifully represents the conduct of the hypocrite in the church. A garment of salvation might be his, performed by the hands of the Saviour, and dyed in his blood; but the hypocrite chooses the filthy rags of his own righteousness, and thus offers the highest contempt for that provided in the gospel. He is to blame, not for being invited - not for coming, if he would come, for he is freely invited but for offering the highest contempt to the King of Zion in presenting himself with all his filth and rags, and in refusing to be saved in the way provided in the gospel.
When the king came - When God shall come to judge the world.
Wedding garment - Among the orientals, long white robes were worn at public festivals; and those who appeared on such occasions with any other garments were esteemed, not only highly culpable, but worthy of punishment. Our Lord seems here to allude to Zephaniah 1:7, Zephaniah 1:8, The Lord hath prepared a Sacrifice, he hath Bidden his guests. And it shall come to pass, in the day of the Lord's sacrifice, that I will Punish the princes, and the King's Children, and All Such as are clothed with Strange Apparel. The person who invited the guests prepared such a garment for each, for the time being; and with which he was furnished on his application to the ruler of the feast. It was this which made the conduct of the person mentioned in the text inexcusable; he might have had a proper marriage garment, if he had applied for it.
To afford accidental guests clothing suitable to a marriage feast, was a custom among the ancient Greeks. Homer relates that Telemachus, and the son of Nestor, arriving at Lacedaemon when Menelaus was making a marriage feast for his son and daughter, were accommodated with garments suited to the occasion, after having been bathed and anointed.
Τους δ 'επει ουν δρωμαι λουσαν και χρισαν ελαιῳ,π
Αμφι δ 'αρα χλαινας ουλας βαλον ηδε χιτωνας,π
Ες ρα θρονους εζοντο παρ 'Ατρειδην Μενελαον
Odyss. l. iv. ver. 49-51
They entered each a bath, and by the hands
Of maidens laved, and oiled, and clothed again
With shaggy mantles and resplendent vests,
Sat both enthroned at Menelaus' side.
Among the Asiatics, garments called caftans, great numbers of which each nobleman has ordinarily ready in his wardrobe, are given to persons whom he wishes to honor: to refuse to accept or wear such a dress would be deemed the highest insult.
This marriage feast or dinner (the communication of the graces of the Gospel in this life) prepares for the marriage supper of the Lamb, Revelation 19:7-9, the enjoyment of eternal blessedness in the kingdom of glory. Now, as without holiness no man can see the Lord, we may at once perceive what our Lord means by the marriage garment - it is Holiness of heart and life: the text last quoted asserts that the fine, white, and clean linen (alluding to the marriage garment above mentioned) was an emblem of the Righteousness of the Saints. Mark this expression: the righteousness, the whole external conduct; regulated according to the will and word of God. Of the Saints, the holy persons, whose souls were purified by the blood of the Lamb.
To the marriage supper of the Lamb will come many who have not on the wedding garment—the robe [Christ] purchased for them with His lifeblood. From lips that never make a mistake come the words, “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?” (Matthew 22:12). Those [thus] addressed are speechless. They know that words would be useless. The truth, with its sanctifying power, has not been brought into the soul, and the tongue that once spoke so readily of the truth is now silent. The words are then spoken, “Take them out of My presence. They are not worthy to taste of My supper” (cf. Luke 14:24). UL 301.3Read in context »
If it were possible for us to be admitted into heaven as we are, how many of us would be able to look upon God? How many of us have on the wedding-garment? How many of us are without spot or wrinkle or any such thing? How many of us are worthy to receive the crown of life? ... Position does not make the man. It is Christ formed within that makes a man worthy of receiving the crown of life, that fadeth not away. Mar 98.3Read in context »
In the parable of Matthew 22 the same figure of the marriage is introduced, and the investigative judgment is clearly represented as taking place before the marriage. Previous to the wedding the king comes in to see the guests, to see if all are attired in the wedding garment, the spotless robe of character washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. Matthew 22:11; Revelation 7:14. He who is found wanting is cast out, but all who upon examination are seen to have the wedding garment on are accepted of God and accounted worthy of a share in His kingdom and a seat upon His throne. This work of examination of character, of determining who are prepared for the kingdom of God, is that of the investigative judgment, the closing work in the sanctuary above. GC 428.1
When the work of investigation shall be ended, when the cases of those who in all ages have professed to be followers of Christ have been examined and decided, then, and not till then, probation will close, and the door of mercy will be shut. Thus in the one short sentence, “They that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut,” we are carried down through the Saviour's final ministration, to the time when the great work for man's salvation shall be completed. GC 428.2
In the service of the earthly sanctuary, which, as we have seen, is a figure of the service in the heavenly, when the high priest on the Day of Atonement entered the most holy place, the ministration in the first apartment ceased. God commanded: “There shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he comes out.” Leviticus 16:17. So when Christ entered the holy of holies to perform the closing work of the atonement, He ceased His ministration in the first apartment. But when the ministration in the first apartment ended, the ministration in the second apartment began. When in the typical service the high priest left the holy on the Day of Atonement, he went in before God to present the blood of the sin offering in behalf of all Israel who truly repented of their sins. So Christ had only completed one part of His work as our intercessor, to enter upon another portion of the work, and He still pleaded His blood before the Father in behalf of sinners. GC 428.3Read in context »