Today, we read Matthew 22 and the Parable of the Marriage Feast. My bible has great footnotes so rather than try to reinvent the wheel I repeat it in substance (with some clarifying additions) below:
22:1-14 The parable of the Marriage Feast is an allegory of salvation history culminating in Jesus.
The KING is God who prepares the heavenly banquet for his SON (Jesus). The SERVANTS are the OT prophets called to summon Israel. However, the invited guests refuse to come. Because some of the invited guests ignored the prophets and killed them in the parable the King (God) destroys their city. In fact, the city of JERUSALEM will be destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans.
The King then sends out other servants, the APOSTLES, to invite others (the Gentiles), bad and good, as many as they can find to the celebration. These people are happy to come to the feast.
Those lacking proper attire (the wedding garment) are bound and cast out of the feast into the darkness of eternal punishment. The parable highlights God’s impartial treatment of all who are called – Jews and Gentiles. He rewards and punishes on the basis of one’s acceptance or rejection of his call.
22:11 – No wedding garment: The wedding garment is a symbol of righteous deeds that accompany faith. We see this most clearly in Rev 19: 7-8:
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.
What constitutes righteous deeds are outlined in Matthew as almsgiving (6:2-4), prayer (6:5-15), fasting (6:16-18), and works of mercy (25:34-40). In other words, if you don’t come to the feast wearing your righteous deeds you get kicked out.
This parable makes very clear, there are 2 parts, steps, stages, criteria, a process – call it what you want – to the Marriage Feast – i.e., Heaven. There is getting invited and there is being allowed to stay.
Notice the last sentence of the parable, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” In the parable, EVERYONE is invited to the feast. First, God invites all of the selected guests (Israel) and then everyone else. Notice, the King does not pick who he wants to come, He sends his servants out to invite everyone. Some reject the invitation. Thus God does not compel the salvation of anyone and He allows free will to reject his invitation.
Then, even though people were literally invited right off the street, they were still expected to prepare and to wear a wedding garment. The guest who is thrown out was invited but he did nothing to prepare, he no wedding garment, no righteous deeds. Now, that fact that you need righteous deeds to stay at the Marriage Feast does NOT mean that you merited the invitation. But it does mean, once you got the invitation, you must choose to do things to prepare for the wedding feast. This again shows that salvation is a process by which we are made ready for heaven and good works are the things we clothe ourselves in to be ready for the feast.