December 4, 2022 Being Prepared for the Wedding Feast

Being Prepared for the Wedding Feast


Read Matthew 22:1-14.


The Parable of the Wedding Feast is the third of three parables that our Lord tells in succession. The first two, The Parable of the Two Sons and the Parable of the Vineyard, were told in order to warn Israel of their failure to love and serve God. This parable, too, serves this function in its first half (verses 1-8). Half way through the Lord then transitions his warnings to those who come to him from among the Gentiles. That is, this parable is also a warning for the whole church. This parable is for us!


2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, [1]


Remember that, in the gospel of Matthew, the phrase “kingdom of heaven” does not mean heaven. Rather, it means the kingdom that comes from heaven and that will be set up upon the earth. This is clear from the Sermon on the Mount. It refers to the Millennial kingdom which will be established when our Lord returns to the earth.


The “wedding feast” is the time of enjoyment between Christ and his bride, the church. It is called the “marriage supper” in Revelation 19. This will take place when the Lord Jesus returns to the earth before he sets up his kingdom.[2]


The “king” is God the Father. And “his son” is the Lord Jesus.


and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”[3]


The “servants” are the apostles. They reached out to “those who were invited.” Those who were invited were the Jews. They were given the invitation first. But, by and large, they rejected it.


But the king did not give up. He sent other servants. There were many who preached the gospel besides the apostles.


But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.[4]



Those who heard the gospel during the ministry of the apostles and shortly thereafter attended to their earthly affairs rather than heeding the invitation.  The same is true today, 2000 years later.  People will ignore the gospel in order to attend to their worldly concerns. What a great and terrible error this is! Then, those who first heard even murdered the apostles and those who came after them.


The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.[5]


This is exactly what happened. Because Israel rejected their call, God sent the Roman army to burn down Jerusalem. This happened in 70 AD when the Roman general Titus destroyed the temple and all of Jerusalem. This shows the all-encompassing sovereignty of God. Even the heathen nations are his. Their armies are his armies.


Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. [6]


Starting at verse 8, the parable then looks to the calling of the Gentile world. The wedding hall “was filled.” This reveals the great number of people who would respond to the gospel. Millions have! And, should the Lord tarry, millions more will! Thus, the rest of this parable has to do with the church, those who have responded to the gospel.


“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.[7]


Who is this man? Because bad things are going to happen to this man, many teachers will tell you that he is someone who is unsaved. (Modern teachers cannot accept the fact that bad things can happen to a saved person after they die. But it is clear from many passages of Scripture that divine discipline may extend into the next age.) So, some will say that this man represents someone who outwardly responded to the gospel, but who was not born again. Of course, there are people like that. I would even say there are millions of people like that. There are many who make a profession of faith without the reality of faith. But this man does not represent that kind of person. We can know this by considering the wedding feast as it is described in Revelation 19.


Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,


       For the Lord our God

the Almighty reigns.

7    Let us rejoice and exult

and give him the glory,

       for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his Bride has made herself ready;

8    it was granted her to clothe herself

with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. [8]


The second half of Revelation 19 reveals a great conflict upon the earth where the wrath of God will be poured out upon the earth. Before that is the marriage supper. Only those who are resurrected (and some who are alive when the Lord Jesus returns) will be invited to the marriage supper. The unsaved cannot be part of the marriage supper because they will not be resurrected until after the kingdom is set up, according to Revelation chapter 20.


The wedding garment in the parable corresponds to the clothing of “fine linen, bright and pure” (vs. 8). And what is that? It is the “righteous deeds of the saints.”  The wedding garment, then, represents the good deeds of those who already belong to Christ.


As followers of the Lord Jesus, we are called to do good things and exercise acts of kindness (Matthew 5:16; Eph. 2:10; Col. 3:12; 2 Peter 1:7). But some disciples make a profession of faith and seem to be just waiting for heaven. They seldom share the gospel (if at all). Their lives do not look very much different from a person of the world: they go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch tv or surf on their phone, they might talk to their spouse or children. The only difference between this kind of disciple and a person of the world seems to be that they avoid the “big” sins, like fornication, adultery, drunkenness, and using the Lord’s name in vain. But, we were not called merely to avoid sins. We were called to labor for the Lord, not to sit around waiting for heaven. And the labor to which we are called is an enjoyable one. It is not burdensome or hum-drum. (If you feel hum-drum when working for the Lord, this may mean you have not discovered your spiritual gifts.) When we are in the spirit, we enjoy living and working for the Lord!


Returning to our text, we come to the alarming end!


And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ [9]


We have already established that the man in the parable is a believer. But what is this “outer darkness”? As has already been stated, because this man suffers in the next age, many are quick to think that he is an unbeliever or a false professor. So, we ought to consider this matter of the outer darkness.


Matthew records the Lord using this phrase three times. The third time he uses it is in the Parable of the Talents in chapter 25. In that parable it is abundantly clear that those to whom the talents were given belonged to the Lord. That parable begins:


“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.[10]


The ones to whom the parable applies are “his servants.” They belong to the man and the man represents Christ. Unbelievers are not owned by Christ. Every time the word, servants, appears in the NT in reference to God or Christ it always refers to true believers. Hence, it ought not be taken in another way in the Parable of the Talents.


Indeed, when the unsaved are referred to, they are called servants of Satan, not of God (2 Cor. 11:14-15)!


Therefore, since the genuine but unfaithful servant of Christ is thrown into outer darkness in the Parable of the Talents, there is no reason to allow this end to preclude us from knowing that this is a possible result for the genuine, but unprepared, guest at the wedding feast.


But where or what is the “outer darkness”? I have a two-volume set of books that purports to identify with great specificity what and where the outer darkness is. This set is about 1000 pages! Yet, the outer darkness is mentioned only three times and all three of these instances consist of only a verse or two. Despite this ridiculously long book on the subject, the truth is that we do not know where it is nor what goes on there except that it is, obviously, a place of suffering. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth.


This is the reason so many find it hard to believe that this parable refers to real believers. Most followers of Christ simply do not want to believe that a Christian can suffer after this life. Maybe as a youth they were taught that everything is wonderful if you die in Christ. In the final picture of the future, everything is wonderful for the disciple. Every true Christian will be in the New Jerusalem and every tear will be wiped away. Revelation chapter 21 reveals that there will be no mourning, no crying, and no pain ever (21:4). Everything will be new, wonderful, and good (vs. 5). But, there is an entire age between this age and the New Jerusalem! Many teachings of our Lord reveal that suffering in the next age is a possibility for his followers. Our Lord, in the Sermon in the Mount, reveals this many times.


The Parable of the Wedding Feast is a warning for the Lord’s own servants. It is a warning for us!


 We have all been invited to the wedding feast. What ought we to do? We must get dressed, brothers and sisters. Remember that from Rev. 19:8 we learned that the wedding garment represents our righteous deeds. You must know what your gifts are and then, when we serve the Lord, we can do so with joy and not merely with a sense of obligation.


Yet, there are some things that all disciples should be doing, whether they feel comfortable or not. Our lack of comfort in those things is simply due to a lack of familiarity or a lack of practice. For example, all disciples are commissioned to help the poor, to give monetarily to the work of the church in a generous manner, and to share the gospel. If we have not been doing these things then we will naturally feel uncomfortable to begin.


But each of these beautiful things are neither difficult nor burdensome. They do take a commitment of time. This means, if you have not been practicing these things then you need to actually schedule a time. Otherwise, you will not begin! If you do not both prioritize them over your other activities and schedule a time for these things, you will never have a wedding garment.


One thing that is very helpful in carrying these things out is to come alongside someone who is already doing these things. I remember when John and Christy Banks were members here, he would travel to St. Charles weekly to help serve food to the homeless at a shelter there. He invited others to join him. There are a few of us who go out to share the gospel when the weather is permitting.  You can come along and just observe for a time or two. Then, when you see how easy it is, you will have no qualms.


Our time here is short. Life is fleeting. I implore you, do not come to the wedding feast without the proper clothing. Prepare yourself for the feast!


“Lord, you know how weak we are. We wish to serve you. Our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak. How we need your Spirit to enliven us and motivate us! Have mercy upon us and stir up our hearts to serve you more faithfully. Help us to begin doing what you have called us to do. Help us not to ignore our Lord’s warning but to prioritize your work. Lord, help us. We beseech you! Amen.”


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 22:2). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2]  The marriage supper takes place in Rev. 19 and the kingdom is set up in Rev. 20.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 22:3–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 22:5–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 22:7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 22:8–10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 22:11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Re 19:6–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 22:12–13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.