Monday, November 25, 2013
Say Yes To the Dress
Matt. 22:11 ¶ “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe,
Matt. 22:12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless.
Matt. 22:13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matt. 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Over and over again Jesus continued to teach about the kingdom of heaven and too often those listening didn’t want to get it. From the opening pages of the word until the final chapter we are invited to a wedding. Whether it’s God’s intention for relationship found in the first marriage of Adam and Eve, or if it’s the marriage supper of the lamb, there is an on-going invitation to be at the wedding, and this invitation is for everyone.
This invitation for everyone was a little difficult for the religious leaders to accept. Surely they were more desirable in God’s kingdom because of their own righteousness. They had been practicing this stuff their entire lives. The problem was that they were clothed in their own personal righteousness, unwilling to humble themselves and accept Jesus as Messiah — the Bridegroom.
In ancient days when you were invited to a wedding you were provided with special clothing for the celebration. Everyone was to change into the white robes provided by the bridegroom. No one wore their own clothing into a wedding celebration — no matter how nice you might think that clothing was. You changed into what the groom had for you and in this case, the Groom was providing his own holiness — a purity, cleansing and righteousness beyond anything that any human could ever achieve through their own works.
As Jesus’ parable continues the man is suddenly noticed. How had he tried to slip into the wedding celebration without the wedding robe? How arrogant might this man have been? Obviously he had been a very devout man and followed all the rules and therefore he thought he belonged — and that his own clothing would be good enough. The problem is that any work of humanity on its own will always pale in comparison to what Christ has to offer. The man was left speechless.
The beauty and brightness of the banquet was soon to be a distant reality as the man was thrown out into the darkness. Without the white robe provided by the Groom the man could not be a part of the celebration.
What had this man missed? Everyone had been invited to the wedding celebration, the rich, the poor, the slave, the free, the tax collector, the prostitute, and even the religious leader. Many were called, but only a few had responded to that invitation, coming to the celebration, taking off the old and being clothed with the new, in the holiness and righteousness of the garment provided by the Groom.
There is a TV show here in America about women who are going out and shopping for their wedding dresses. This show is known as “Say Yes To the Dress.” An invitation to find just the right dress for that bright and glorious wedding day. While America has done well at taking a very sacred moment in life and turning it into a consumeristic monster — there is still that idea of the beautiful white gown that is desired for the wedding day.
Unfortunately, during the time of Christ, too many of the religious officials were saying “no” to the dress. They didn’t want the garb provided by Jesus Christ; they thought that they could be holy on their own. And maybe that’s not just an idea from the time of Christ, maybe it’s one that we find today. I’m not so sure that we find that problem with the religious officials but with society in general. Somehow we seem to be embracing our own personal ability to be “good” people and that eventually we will evolve to a state of betterment and that Jesus is not necessary in our lives. The problem is that we don’t seem to be understanding this concept of taking off the old and putting on the new. We are like the man in the story who thinks that his duds are good enough!
Surely our own good lives will be good enough for God?! The problem is the contrast between the clothing we think is good enough and what Christ has to offer. It’s somewhat like the joke about the wealthy man who begs God to bring along one suitcase full of his earthly wealth. He fills that suitcase with bars of gold and when he reaches the pearly gates the angel looks at him stunned. “Why would anyone want to bring pavement with them to heaven?”
The robes which we might weave together in this lifetime are nothing compared to what Jesus has to offer. Too often we refuse to say “yes to the dress” and we live, what we believe is, a Christian life that is less than powerful. Jesus’ goal for you and for me is to be transformed into his likeness — his goal for us is holiness. We are not supposed to be weighed down and trudging through life trying hard on our own power to be God’s holy people. No, we are to come to the party and change clothes — being clothed in his holiness and righteousness which will completely transform our lives.
You are invited to shop for the best wedding dress ever. The racks are lined with the white garments of Christ’s creation. It’s time to take off the old and put on the new — by saying yes to the dress! And then living in the beauty of that dress and in holy relationship with the Bridegroom. It’s an invitation to an empowered life of transformation beyond our imagination.
Lord, we are grateful for your incredible love that reaches out in transformational power to each and very one of us! Amen.