Properly Dressed

Matthew 22:1-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

Parable of the Great Feast

22 Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

“So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

“The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Yesterday Doug, I, and 4 of our friends had the privilege of spending part of the afternoon getting to know a couple who share a similar calling in the Kingdom. Upon arriving at their home, built in 1827, we took a step back in time as we toured the impeccably decorated rooms and listened to life stories of multiple generations of this family who have lived on the property since the 1700’s. Afterward, we joined some of the extended family for a delicious Sunday feast and shared some of our life stories. Once our bellies were overfull with homemade chicken salad, fresh tomatoes, warm cake and ice cream, we took a walking tour of a small section of the 4,000+ acre farm.

I, unfortunately, was not properly dressed for the occasion (high heels and a long flowing dress isn’t very conducive for walking down long dirt paths in the summertime in the south…. or through outbuildings filled with antique farm equipment and family heirlooms!). As we entered the barn, my husband broke my fall when I twisted my left ankle, after catching my heel on a piece of concrete hiding beneath some hay. My pride was only hurt for a moment, as my friends- old and new- quickly came to my aid.

On with the tour!

After making a loop around the grounds and through the garden, we headed back towards the car & my dear friend offered to retrieve the other pair of heels I packed for the trip (they were croc wedged heels- still not the best shoes for the day, but they would have been better than what I had on!). I stubbornly refused. “No…I’m fine!”

On with the tour!

Several minutes later, as I was high stepping through the long cut grass, leaving a tenant house that the family is restoring, the strap of my right shoe broke off! My chivalrous husband then gave me his size 10 ½ shoes, and we walked back to the main house, hand in hand, down the long gravel path- both of us now, not properly dressed.

At first glance, the King in the Parable of the Great Feast seems to be judgmental and extremely harsh towards the man who arrived at the wedding without the proper clothes. I mean, did it really matter what kind of pants, shirt or shoes he was wearing?

No.

The secret behind this parable that Jesus told was that the guest was not prepared when he received the Kings unexpected invitation- and his heart was not properly dressed.

At first glance, we tend to judge people by looking at their exterior; what they have on, how their hair looks, what they say, the expression on their face, etc. but God looks past the outside, and goes straight to the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 New Living Translation (NLT)

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

We may fool others when we show up for church every Sunday in our high heels and long flowing dresses, looking like the “perfect Christian”, but we can’t fake the funk with God. He knows when our hearts stubbornly refuse to surrender to Him (“no…I’m fine!!!”).

If you’re reading this, you haven’t received the unexpected wedding invitation yet. But perhaps the King has already sent you an announcement & you’ve refused to RSVP. Maybe He’s even allowed you to twist your ankle, or break the strap on your favorite shoes to remind you that He’s waiting for your reply. Don’t ignore Him any longer. Accept His invitation to make Jesus Christ your Lord and King. Lower your pride, humble yourself before Him and confess: “I’m NOT fine…I need your help!” When you do, the Holy Spirit will help you get properly dressed in:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I look forward to seeing you at the eternal feast, my friend (I’ll be the one with flip flops, a t-shirt and jeans on!)

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