THE WEDDING FEAST

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Are we prepared for the greatest wedding feast of all?

 

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

 

Metaphors and imagery are being used in the Bible to portray man’s relationship with God. For example, we are like sheep to the Chief Shepherd and like children to our Heavenly Father.

The church is also seen as the bride of Christ. Paul wrote: “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).

Thus, it is no surprise that Jesus took up the wedding theme to teach us what the kingdom of heaven is like. In one of His parables, the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22: 1-14), the King (God) hosted a banquet for His son (Christ) and many people were invited to this celebration.

Israel was invited first. However, many in God’s favoured nation refused to come to this feast. Moreover, the king’s servants (prophets) who delivered the invitation were mistreated and even killed. So the invitation was thrown open to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).

During the feast, the king noticed a man who was not wearing appropriate wedding clothes (Matthew 22:11). When asked why he failed to wear proper attire, he was speechless. Thus, he was promptly excluded from the feast and sent to the outer darkness (hell), the place where men weep and gnash their teeth (Matthew 22:12-13).

What does the wedding attire signify? It symbolises the garments of salvation and robe of righteousness, which only God can provide.

 

 

Only Christ’s blood can wash away our sins so that we get draped in pure white robes to join the wedding feast. Christ is the only way by which man can be reconciled to God. Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

How can man please a holy God? If we try to do good works, which are like filthy rags in God’s eyes (Isaiah 64:6), it will not meet with His approval. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, not by works (Ephesians 2: 8-9, Philippians 3:9).

At the end of the parable, Jesus remarked: “For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22: 14). Though many have been given the opportunity to be saved, few actually take up God’s offer of salvation. How sad!

A similar scenario is presented in the last book of the Bible. One day, faithful believers will get invited to a wedding feast (Marriage Supper of the Lamb).

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19: 7-9)

 

 

Here, the church is seen once again as a pure Bride, devoted to one husband, Christ. 

But notice the contrast. In the earlier Parable of the Wedding Feast, the wedding attire is the robe of righteousness that God provides for believers—imputed righteousness. But in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the wedding attire is the righteous acts of the saints.

Do these two accounts in Matthew 22 and Revelation 19 contradict each other? No.

Faith is a word with broad ramifications. If a person claims he believes in Jesus but fails to make Him Lord in his life—and continues to willfully live in sin—his belief is fake, spurious and questionable. Without repentance and obedience, belief alone is empty. Genuine faith has to be evidenced by good works. Faith, by itself, without works, is dead (James 2:17, James 2:26).

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works” (James 2:21-22).

Note the other references in Revelation that emphasise the significance of wearing proper wedding attire—the righteous acts of the saints:

Church at Sardis told that if they are righteous and are able to overcome, they will be clad in white.

“You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Revelation 3:4-5).

Saints, who are dressed in white, washed in the Lamb’s blood, have overcome the Great Tribulation.

“These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7: 14)

Eternal reward is reserved to those whose lives are characterised by good works.

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. (Revelation 22:12)

If we have any doubt as to whether works, obedience and fruit-bearing are necessary for believers, this is quickly dispelled when we consider the final judgment when the faithful sheepare separated from the fruitless goats (Matthew 25: 31-46). The sheep are those who are kind and benevolent to those in need; their good works for other people are deemed as service to Christ.

Though we are not saved by doing good works, nevertheless good works are not redundant in the life of believers. Works prove that our faith is genuine.

Finally, to complete the wedding theme, we look into the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), where watchful waiting is contrasted with careless complacency.

The wise virgins, a picture of faithful believers, were watchful and waiting for the bridegroom, Christ, to return. They made sure they had sufficient oil (symbol of the Holy Spirit) in their lamps. When Christ suddenly arrived, they were allowed to attend the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

On the other hand, the foolish virgins, who represent careless and complacent believers, did not have sufficient oil in their lamps. They were not eagerly expecting the bridegroom’s return. As a result, when Christ returned, the door was shut in their faces. They were excluded from the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. 

Is watchful preparation for Christ’s return something passive? No. It is active. Being watchful implies that we will faithfully do good works.

The two stories just before and after the Parable of the Ten Virgins speak volumes for active faith:

 

  • Faithful servants are supposed to mind the Master’s household well (Matthew 24: 45-51)  
  • Good stewards must utilise well the talents God entrusts to them (Matthew 25:14-30).

 

The following passage tells us that godly living will follow if we are watchful, waiting expectantly for Christ’s return:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).

To reiterate, here are the three main points related to the wedding feast:

 

  • In Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22: 1-14), the wedding attire is the robe of righteousness that God provides for believers—imputed righteousness. Whoever does not have this robe is excluded from the celebration—as one man discovered to his regret and consternation.
  • In the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19: 7-9), the wedding attire is the righteous acts of the saints (good works).
  • In the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the conditions for entry to the wedding feast are spelled out. Only the wise virgins, who were watchful and waiting, with sufficient oil in their lamps, could rejoice with the bridegroom.

 

 

In summary, entrance to God’s kingdom is by grace—the righteousness that God provides through the cleansing blood of Christ—not by our good works.

But, lest we forget, having placed our trust in Christ, we have to prove that our faith is genuine by good works.

 

 

Let’s strive to enter by the narrow door (Luke 13: 24) and walk along the narrow and difficult path (Matthew 7:13-14) that leads to the kingdom of life.

“For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22: 14).

 

MAIN PASSAGES

PARABLE OF THE WEDDING FEAST (Matthew 22:1-14)

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. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 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.”

MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB (Revelation 19: 7-9)

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”

 

POSTSCRIPT

Salvation by faith; good news and bad news

Though it is not clearly stated in the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22: 1-14) that the wedding attire is that which God graciously provides (imputed righteousness based on faithin Christ), it is implied. This parable is about the Good News (Gospel), how man can gain entrance into God’s kingdom. Many have been invited to embrace it but many refused. After the Jews rejected Christ and His redemptive work on the cross, the invitation was thrown open to the Gentiles.

Since all have sinned and fall short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23), and since no one could possibly keep God’s law (Galatians 3:11), there was only one way, by which man could be reconciled to God and be saved from His wrath—by grace through faith.

 

Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would make the Gentiles right in his sight because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith. (Galatians 3:6, 8-9)

 

But the Good News also comes with a warning. Those who refuse to accept its terms (faith in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross) will have to face God’s judgment and wrath.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3: 16-18)

 

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Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (Dec 2008 – Oct 2011). He can be reached at his Facebook pagewww.facebook.com/AskDrLim and blog, Porridge for the Soul: http://bit.ly/1ijiXHp  This article is a personal sharing by the writer, written for the exhortation of the united Body of Christ.

 

SOURCE OF ARTICLE: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2017/07/the-wedding-feast.html

 

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Dr Lim Poh Ann

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