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What is the wedding garment in the parable in Matthew 22:12? In the parable recorded in the first verses of Matthew 22, when those who would not come to the king's wedding feast were destroyed, the servants were sent out to bring anyone they found, good or bad, to the wedding feast. But when the king came in to see his guests he found one without a wedding garment. “Friend,” he said, “how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And there was nothing the man could answer. The king commanded his servants to bind him hand and foot and send him out into the outer darkness where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus consistently uses this phrase for those who will be excluded from the kingdom of God. I believe it has to describe hell.

I think the wedding garment represents three things in our lives.

  1. I believe it must represent intimacy with Jesus Christ. In Matthew 7:23 Jesus said the problem with many who preached and healed and did miracles in His name was that He had never known them. I am told by reliable sources that the wedding garments may well have been supplied by the king himself. You did not get one because you were born into a wealthy family, or because you knew the best tailor in town. You could only get one from the King. Salvation is not simply affirming a creed or even mouthing a prayer. It is a relationship where in we know Him because He knows us intimately.
  2. I believe the wedding garment must also represent the transformation of life that intimacy with Jesus produces in us. Romans 12:2 calls us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. And new birth must include such life transformation.
  3. Finally, I believe it represents the fruit of the Spirit produced in and through us. In Matthew 7:16-20 Jesus said we would know false prophets, and I assume true disciples, by their fruit. I believe this begins with love, joy, peace, and such in us. But it also includes such fruit in those we influence by the Holy Spirit of God.

Jesus applies this parable by saying, “for many are called but few are chosen.” I don't believe it is consistent with the gospel to say that those who are chosen are chosen because of their good works. In that parable we would assume that there were bad people who had a wedding garment. And we are not told that this man was better or worse than others at the table. I rather think Jesus is saying we will know those who are truly chosen by God from the fruit His personal intervention produces in our lives.

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