The Party Crasher
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Many find this episode hard to understand. Though oversimplified, this is what I think is the essential kernel of this story: it is possible to claim to be a Christ-follower without being one. Let’s examine this premise.
Matt. 22:11a (Holman) But when the king came in to view the guests,
The King walks among us, observing us. He totally knows everything we are and do. God watches us. In an early Spanish mission built in Texas, a room has a large eye painted on the ceiling. It reminds observers of God’s all-seeing eye. On our National Seal, found on the back of one dollar bills, the eye of God is pictured as overseeing our nation’s early days. God sees us.
God’s omni-vision terrifies people living in sin, but comforts all who desire to serve Him. All who love Jesus are happy to know He interacts with us directly. We are grateful that in His dealings with us, He does not send attendants, servants, or other royalty, but honors us by coming to us Himself.
In their darkest hour, Jesus promised the Twelve, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). The Psalmist (34:18) delighted in knowing, “YHWH is near the brokenhearted”. Often, when we feel God is the farthest away He’s ever been, He is actually His nearest to us.
All who love Him enjoy this interaction. Augustine read, “Thou canst not see my face and live.” He boldly said, “Let me die to see Thy face.”
By personally entering the banquet hall, the King honored His guests. In our text, everyone else was sitting (reclining) when He entered. The King, known to be everyone’s superior, followed proper protocol by entering last.
This superior/inferior understanding still affects our social etiquette. Good manners are nothing more than obeying the Bible admonition to “consider others as more important than yourselves” (PH 2:3).
For instance, consider our custom of greeting houseguests at the door. When guests come to visit, the homeowner, humbly perceiving self as an inferior, treats the visitors as superiors, and goes to the door to greet them.
This is the host’s way of kindly saying the guests are honoring us by their presence. A lady whom some considered Washington DC’s most gracious hostess was asked her secret to success. She said, to make each one feel special, she excitedly greeted everyone personally at the door when they arrived, and gave a heartfelt goodbye to everyone at the door as they left. I find this to be highly effective with our Thursday evening college group.
We can make our kind statement even bolder. The farther we walk out to greet a guest at first or to say farewell at the end makes our thoughtfulness even better. I try to walk my office guests to the atrium to let them know they matter, and are not a burden. Good manners matter, but are often berated in our society. Make no mistake. It is no coincidence; as Christianity loses influence in a culture, rude becomes more common and acceptable.
Matt. 22:11b-12a . . .he saw a man there who was not dressed for a
wedding. So he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in
here without wedding clothes?
The King alone knows all about us. At the wedding banquet, only He knew all the guests’ hearts, and only He called attention to this missing robe.
The garment at the heart of this story figuratively refers to a garment worn on the heart. Within us is the real us, invisible to all but God. “There is in us an inner life of thoughts, opinions, beliefs, emotions, and desires” (R. Davey). In this inner self, in our hearts, everlasting destinies are determined.
From our perspective, a church contains both good and bad members. This limited viewpoint reveals no ultimate inner realities about anyone. In His own time, Jesus will separate the real from the false. Masquerades end.
The problem was nothing that seemed to others terribly offensive. It was instead merely the unobtrusive absence of something the King required.
He did not call the guest ugly, evil, or offensive. He called attention to the fact something vital was missing. Heed the message. Salvation is freely offered, but must be received the right way, that is, the God-appointed way.
This man was a party crasher, an intruder at the wedding banquet. He had been invited to come along with many others guests, but opted to come on his own terms, without abiding by what the King expected and required.
He wanted to feast without being beholden to the King. He desired the King’s bounty without doing the king’s bidding. He pictures people who want Heaven without wanting the King. This is dangerous, because anyone not trusting in Jesus alone for salvation is not headed to Heaven’s banquet.
The Bible often uses external clothing as an outward picture of one’s inward condition. Joshua the High Priest was dressed in filthy garments (ZC 3:1ff). Satan rejoiced because it pictured Joshua not being right with God. The Lord rebuked Satan, and ordered the clothes be changed, saying, “I have removed your guilt from you, and I will clothe you with splendid robes.”
John called lukewarm Christians at Laodicea naked, a picture of sin. He urged them to put on white clothes, a symbol of purity, so they could be dressed (holy) and their nakedness (sin) not be exposed (Rev. 3:17-18).
Some in Sardis had not defiled their clothes, and would walk with Jesus in white (RV 3:4). The message is clear. Keep garments undefiled. Let public holiness picture a heart privately unspotted from the world (RV 3:4).
When Adam and Eve sinned, they knew they were naked, they knew something had gone bad wrong. Ever since, no one other than Jesus has been born spiritually clothed. We have to “put on” salvation, receive it as a gift.
We have long sung about it. The Baptist preacher Edward Mote wrote my Grandpa Hill’s favorite song. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” The blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin. The righteousness of Jesus gives us a new, holy God-life. Mote continued, “When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in him be found; Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.”
This is why we will not be naked in Heaven. We are not going back to Eden. To remind us we do not have inherent purity, we will in Heaven wear robes made white due to the blood of the Lamb (RV 7:14). They had to be washed because they were not good enough in themselves. We will forever be reminded we could not save ourselves. Nothing inherent in us bought our salvation. Our righteousness was something we had to consciously put on.
Matt. 22:12b The man was speechless.
The King gave the party crasher a chance to justify himself. His inability to do so implies he could have come in a wedding garment had he chosen to. He was dumbfounded, self-condemned. Silence proved his guilt.
He was tongue-tied. Terror paralyzed his tongue. There was nothing to be said. He had no excuse to plead. He was dead wrong, and knew it. What can we say when the X-ray of God’s truth goes all the way through us? Fault was totally in him. No one goes to Hell for a lack of what they never were able to have, but for lack of what they could have had, but refused to take. Unbelievers have an abundance of excuses to give for not believing in Jesus. Presumption speaks now, but will someday be speechless.
For eternity, no one will ever be able to say “Unfair!” to God. No one will ever accuse Him of not having been 100% totally just. All in Heaven will know they do not deserve it. All in Hell will know they do deserve it. In the end, all will know without any doubt that God was fair in all His doings.