Jesus sat before the people and uttered what must have been to them shocking words: Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20, NKJV). Few were more scrupulous in the observance of the letter of the law than were the Pharisees. Nevertheless, they failed because their behavior was intended to impress men more than to please God. Jesus warns us not to do likewise (Matt. 6:1).
How, then, can we be righteous before God? The parable of the marriage feast gives us the clue in finding the source of true righteousness.
The king provided the wedding robes free of charge. Those present were invited randomly while traveling on the highways, and probably did not have the appropriate attire for the wedding, nor money to buy it. Both the invitation and the garment were gifts from the king. The only requirement needed to attend the feast was to accept both presents.
Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, every human being is spiritually naked. Adam and Eve felt naked after disobeying, and they attempted to cover themselves by sewing fig leaves together, something utterly uncomfortable and ineffective (Gen. 3:7). The best righteousness that human effort can achieve is like filthy rags (Isa. 64:6, NKJV).
As in the parable, God provides the garment we need. He made garments for Adam and Eve and clothed them (Rev. 19:8), a symbol of His righteousness covering the sinner. The Lord also provides the garment of Christ’s righteousness for His church, so that she may be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright (Rev. 19:8, NKJV), not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Eph. 5:27, NKJV). This robe is the righteousness of Christ, His own unblemished character, that through faith is imparted to all who receive Him as their personal Saviour. — Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 310.
Above and beyond anything else we believe, why must we understand that our salvation comes only from the covering that Christ gives us as a gift? Why must we always remember this?