Wednesday: The Wedding Garment

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).

Image © Standard Publishing from

Image © Standard Publishing from

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.

Read Matthew 22:2-14. Why did the king want to be sure that every guest had the wedding garment for the feast? What did that garment represent? See Isa. 61:10, Zech. 3:1-5.

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?



Wednesday: The Wedding Garment — 15 Comments

  1. The daily thought of the fact that our salvation comes from the Christ's pristine character which He bestows as a gift will relay to our consciousness our utter dependence on Christ. It is He who lives that life in us through the Holy Spirit. As it is in the parable of the wedding garment(Matthew 22:2–14 (NKJV)), it is now our choice to choose to wear the garment or reject the garment of righteousness. The acceptance of this robe or garment of righteousness which represents the character of Christ is evidenced by total obedience to the law of God. Christ lived a holy life and He confirmed it by saying He has obeyed His father's commandments (John 15:10).The of righteousness Christ has given us , is therefore the character to obey the commandments of God(Rom 5:19).This character is not given by birth or inheritance, it is only through Jesus Christ!.

  2. It is a wonderful thing to be saved. Still, one may wonder what is in it for God. What does He get out of it?

    There are those who may suggest that the Cross was primarily about God’s character, and thereby inadvertently convey the impression that God was more concerned about His name than anything else. One might even think God was shoring up His position by putting on a show and trying to get the creation to like Him. Any benefit to God in the plan of salvation would only be secondary or incidental.

    True God needed to earn the trust of beings He invited to trust Him. However the God who is love had us in mind before His own name (Psalm 138:2). His desire is to save us, not simply from penalty, but to make our lives worthwhile; to restore us to the image which will realize this high honor. This is the plan of redemption – the restoration of the image of God in man. To achieve this God puts his own name on the line, by taking unpopular actions at times, as we especially see in the Old Testament. Still there is more than enough for us to know He cares a whole lot about us.

    When God goes fishing he wants the object of His love to take a full bite of hook, line and sinker. His appeal is for us to go all the way, to allow Him to completely restore us. What is in it for the Creator? In a word, love. And love is its own reward.

    The world is not merely offered a fire escape, but life at its best, which requires unity with the Maker, partaking of His righteousness and reflecting His character. The character then of God’s creation is given more attention than His own character, which needs no change.

    God does not need us, but O how He longs to be with us, as one. Why not accept the Garment of Righteousness, this day?

    • A very perceptive question Hugh: "What is in it for God?"

      Consider a husband who has a wife who commits adultery. Legally and morally he has grounds to divorce his wife and have nothing more to do with her. Yet, I know of many husbands, who, faced with that circumstance, work tirelessly to build and restore the lost relationship. (I am using the husband as an example - but I know of wives who, faced with the same situation have done exactly the same thing.) What is in it for the husband? It is not just cooked meals and a warm bed at night! It is a restored relationship - the companionship of sharing and doing things together. It is even companionable silence.

      God is not the unmoved mover of the universe. A core of Christian belief is the understanding that God is a personal God. Like the estranged husband, he longs for a restored relationship with his created beings.

      • Maurice, let’s take your example even further, let’s consider Hosea. Even though he was commanded by God to, “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry” (Hosea 1:2 NKJV) it was still his choice who that would be and even though it was an enacted parable of the children of Israel I believe he actually loved her. If the woman spoken of in Hosea 3 was Gomer “who is loved by her husband” (Hosea 3:1 NAS), who was Hosea, who, if this is true, bought her back (Hosea 3:2) then one can see more than just a surface relationship on Hosea’s part. That I believe accurately describes God’s love in human terms.

        If a person does what Hosea did and marries a prostitute what should he expect? But that is exactly what the Lord did with us. He knew before He ever created anything what was going to happen. He knew the stock that He was attempting to have a relationship with and yet not only did He go ahead and create creatures that He knew would turn against Him but He also set up a plan in the beginning to buy back his wayward wife, His church. And He did it with a planned sacrifice so deep that we will never fully understand it.

        The man at the wedding feast refused the gift and chose to stubbornly hold on to his own ragged righteousness without a covering as though they were as presentable as the wedding garment. In effect he was running just as much as Gomer ran from her husband. But what do you do when the man’s decision is so solid that nothing will bring him back. There is only one thing left and that is to let the person go in the direction he chooses which for the one at the wedding feast ended up in casting him out where he belonged just like Satan was cast out of Heaven to where he belonged. The people of God cannot in the long run live with rebellion in the camp. It causes too much turmoil and disharmony so eventually it must be purged and when that happens the person is left without God to support his life, which is the end result of God’s wrath.

  3. “ when I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment”, is typified that class of church members who covet the worldly styles and fashions in vogue now,
    The angel of Laodicea is naked, He has not the wedding garment on he has not the righteousness of Christ. And his being naked, not having on any clothes, denotes that he has no righteousness save his own - "And when the King came in to see the guests, He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and He saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless."
    Though God's servants be awake and do their work right, yet some of the members may fail to put on the wedding garment. A garment, you know, is something to put on the outside of the body. The garment, therefore, denotes a daily Christ-like deportment -- the righteousness of Christ in one's daily life. the man in the parable was speechless when asked, "Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" shows that he was guilty of neglect, not of ignorance! He was without excuse, and he knew it.- the righteousness with which he was born -- his bare skin.
    The garment of a person is the first thing that attracts the eye. The "beautiful garment," therefore, must represent something which transforms the appearance of the wearer from being spiritually ugly and filthy in appearance to being spiritually beautiful and admirable. What then, can it represent other than true Christian character, -- goodness, love, mercy, and justice, -- that which is visible and which makes a person likeable and truly a respectable Christian.
    The "strength" and the "garment," together, therefore, are nothing less than the righteousness of Christ -- faith's action and its results. These are the prerequisites which the kingdom of today need.
    These we need now because "henceforth...the uncircumcised and the unclean" -- the unbelieving and the unforgiven sinners, those who do not have the "beautiful garment" on, shall be bound in bundles for the fire, no more to be found among the saints.

  4. With our own effort we cannot earn our salvation, It is a gift from God. Understanding this makes us believe in the divine intervention for our redemption provided by God Himself. The righteousness of Christ.

      • The Divine always takes the initiative. A divine plan was already in place before man sinned and that was implemented immediately man sinned. When Adam sinned they hid. That was their best response but their loving God took the first response. He sought them and provided a remedy. When we were lost in sin Jesus came"to seek and save the lost. "
        engender the stories of the lost coin, sheep and son. They were all lost but the seeker initiated the redemption plan. The father was constantly and anxiously looking for his son and rejoiced when he found him. The woman anxiously and feverishly searched for her coin and rejoiced when she found it and the shepherd searched high and low for his one sheep and rejoiced when he found it. Yes God always take the initiative. He seeks us. He woos us. Good is love. Love seeks. Love saves. Loves rejoiced in victory. My heart responds with joy to such love!

  5. What is it about the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees that is so odious to Jesus? Matthew 15:1-12 gives us a hint of the back story between the controversy between Jesus and the leading religious authorities. Seeking to discredit the ministry of Jesus they came to him from Jerusalem to ask,"Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread?" Matt. 15:2 NKJV

    He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God"--Then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me, And in vain they worship Me, Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.'" Matt.15:3-9

    The chapter in Isaiah from which this passage is referenced (Isaiah 29:13) Also contains this insightful passage. "Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD, And their works are in the dark; They say, "Who sees us?" and, "Who knows us?" Isaiah 29:15 NKJV

    Is it not telling that in every confrontation with the elders and authorities that Jesus encountered not one is mentioned by name? Only by their titles of authority and responsibility are they identified.

    These men: full of vanity and pride, greedy for gain, are in their heart of hearts cowards. They are ever ready to bully the weak, and cast blame upon the sinner, yet they themselves are powerless in words of Jesus to offer any reply to His criticism. Yet such a strong rebuke did not go unnoticed;
    as the disciples of Jesus duly noted, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" Matthew 15:12 NKJV

  6. When it comes to the parable of the wedding garment I tend to view the parable differently than most people do including Ellen White. While I recognize the necessity of a change and agree with William in his article “Off With the Old, On With the New” concerning Zech 3 and see in the Gospels the many times Jesus talks of change I do not believe this parable is about a change in character but rather about accepting a declaration of God instead. I think what we need to see here is that Jesus is addressing the Jewish leaders in the first part of the parable who had not accepted the invitation but in the second He talks about those who have accepted and what they accept in the process.

    The persistent question of this parable is did the guests change their garments or did they cover them? For the Jew who was constantly involved with wearing symbolic tokens of faith such as phylacteries and pieces of blue, shawls/scarfs, and the like the parable would have meaning as a covering. To them to disrobe at a wedding feast to put on another garment in public would have been nonsense and disgraceful. Besides they understood what the Day of Atonement was, it was the “Day of Covering” which is what the Hebrew word translated “atonement” (kaphar כָּפַר) in Lev 16 actually means.

    There are two theological sides to salvation. One is justification and the other is sanctification. Justification is an instantaneous declaration that covers while sanctification is a setting aside for a special purpose both initially and throughout one’s life so it is an ongoing process that changes.

    The first century Jews were all about doing something in order to be saved and didn’t realize that they could only be saved through a gift from God, a covering. That is the problem of the old covenant and why the new covenant or everlasting covenant is the only covenant we can be saved under. It is also the problem Paul faced in his churches where his Jewish converts were constantly thinking in terms of doing something in order to be saved (see the underlying concern of the Jerusalem council, Acts 15:1 and what Paul says in Romans and Galatians concerning how we are justified).

    So, to me while Jesus has a lot to say about what we do this parable is more about accepting the gift of justification then about the change in our characters.

      • ..two things - Invitation and garment. To my understanding garment stands for character and as the lesson writer puts it, accepting the call to attend the wedding is the most important thing here..similarly accepting the call to follow Christ is the most important, He has invited us all to the feast, we may be busy/ tired/ not prepared but then He tenderly calls us to the feast..lets leave whatever may seem to occupy our time and follow Him. When we get to His feet He will dress us with the right garment.

    • Tyler, can we be justified without a change in character?

      Also, this is one of my favorite comments on the robe, because it balances exquisitely the human and the divine responsibilities in salvation:
      "This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not one thread of human devising. Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character, and this character He offers to impart to us. "All our righteousness are as filthy rags." Isaiah 64:6. Everything that we of ourselves can do is defiled by sin. But the Son of God "was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin." Sin is defined to be "the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:5, 4. But Christ was obedient to every requirement of the law. He said of Himself, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart." Psalm 40:8. When on earth, He said to His disciples, "I have kept My Father's commandments." John 15:10. By His perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God's commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks upon us He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah." Christ's Object Lessons, page 311

      • John, the question you ask is important, “can we be justified without a change in character?” To me the answer is yes. If you had asked, “can we be justified without a change in direction” I would have said no. I don’t think God justifies anyone who does not repent which is a change in direction. We are even sanctified (past tense) as a matter of being set aside as a people with a special purpose the same time we are justified just as the Corinthian church was (1 Cor 6:11). The problem is that the PROCESS of sanctification is a work of a lifetime where we are growing up into the fullness of Christ. That is a process that never ends so we can never be in a state of complete change.

        In my comment I stated that, “I tend to view the parable differently than most people do including Ellen White.” In the quote you have from Christ Object Lessons Ellen White said concerning the character of Christ, “this character He offers to impart to us” which she describes and explains later, “This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness.” The term “impart” is what happens under sanctification, not justification, where our character is actually changed. However, in other writings of hers she makes it very clear that we are not perfect and will never be in this life, that we will always have something to overcome and sins to war against. For that victory we need to be justified which is a declaration that we are considered righteous – it is not a change in character.

        That is one of the reasons why Paul spent so much time in his epistles arguing for Justification as the way to salvation rather than sanctification. Besides that, sanctification doesn’t take care of past sins where justification does. In saying that I am not suggesting that Paul ignored sanctification because he didn’t but in his theological arguments concerning how we are saved he chose to deal only with justification for what I think are obvious reasons.

        Besides, as I said, to the Jews a complete change of clothes would not have made much sense. I also stated that Jesus was addressing the Pharisees that thought themselves to be perfect and without any need of help as can be seen in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican in the temple praying to God (Lk 18:9-14) and in Jesus' sharp response to them on another occasion (Mat 9:11-13). The point being that the man at the wedding feast refused any help including the free gift. He thought that his ragged unrighteous character was as presentable as the covering that was being offered to all the guests. The question to us has always been whether the garment was a replacement or a covering. I believe it was a covering as David said, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered” (Psa 32:1 NKJV; ref Rom 4:5-8).


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