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.
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.
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 »
When the Lord is with the people who have knowledge and advantages in spiritual enlightenment, and when they impart that which they have received from God, they are fruit-bearing branches. They receive God's rich blessing, and are producers of fruit. As a sure result, in the hand of God and under the influence of the Holy Spirit they are mighty men. Constantly they represent before the world the great goodness of God, not only in spiritual lines, but in temporal lines as well. They shall prevail; for of a truth God is with them (Manuscript 65, 1912). 5BC 1097.1
28-31. Nothing to Commend—Christ did not condemn the first son for refusing the command. At the same time He did not commend him. The class who act the part of the son who said, “I will not,” deserve no credit for holding the position they do. This open frankness is not to be commended as a virtue. This openness of character, sanctified by truth and holiness will make bold witnesses for Christ; but used as it is by the sinner it is insulting and defiant, and approaches to blasphemy. Because a man is not a hypocrite he is none the less a sinner. When the appeals of the Holy Spirit come to the heart our only safety lies in responding to them without delay (Manuscript 127, 1899). 5BC 1097.2
More Than a Promise Is Needed—The history of Israel as presented in this parable should be studied by all who would practice the teachings of Christ. The vineyard represents the church. The two sons are the two classes of men and women in the world. The Lord calls every member of His church to work in His vineyard. We are to understand our relation to Christ. Christ must abide in our hearts that we may keep before us pure principles, high incentives to moral rectitude. Our work is not merely to promise, but to do. Honesty and integrity must bind us up with God to fulfill His word to the letter. Let those who hear the message God sends today beware, lest they follow the example of the self-exalted Jews. God does not propose to remove from our path everything that creates question or doubt in regard to the working of His servants. He gives ground for faith sufficient to convince the candid, sincere mind; but more evidence than this will never change the inward determination to resist light (Manuscript 127, 1899). 5BC 1097.3Read in context »
This chapter is based on Matthew 22:1-14.
The parable of the wedding garment opens before us a lesson of the highest consequence. By the marriage is represented the union of humanity with divinity; the wedding garment represents the character which all must possess who shall be accounted fit guests for the wedding. COL 307.1Read in context »