Saturday, 30 January 2021
Title: Are You Dressed for the Occasion?
By: Amanda Foo
A question was asked during a sermon: “If you were going to meet the Queen of England, would you dress the way you do to church?”
At that point of time, I was attending PBC’s Saturday evening service, which was known to be the more ‘casual and contemporary’ English service, and so naturally, my dressing style fit the theme. But upon hearing that question I asked myself, “Would I dress this way if I were to have an audience with Queen Elizabeth today?” Suffice to say, I made a conscious decision to not wear flip flops (or Birkenstocks, fashionable as they are) to service since then.
After making His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus was confronted by the religious leaders while he was teaching in the temple. Jesus replied with three extended parables, of which Matthew 22:1-14 was the last of the three, that is ‘The Parable of the Wedding Feast.’
In this parable, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a king who throws a feast to celebrate his son’s wedding. He sends his servants to call his invited guests, yet none show up. He does this a second time, which once again falls on deaf ears. Furious, the king then extends the invitation to everyone, and now the wedding hall is filled with guests.
What is most striking in this parable is the end of the story. As the king makes his way around the hall, he stumbles upon a guest without a wedding garment. He asks the guest how he had managed to enter dressed this way, to which the man keeps silent. The king then orders for him to be brought out. In fact, his words were more severe, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Before we delve deeper into the man without the wedding garment, let us look at a few things Jesus wants us to see.
Firstly, the kingdom of heaven is available to all. In verse 10, it says the servants gathered whoever they could find and the guests in the hall were “both bad and good.” Thus, we should be careful not to assume that the kingdom of God is reserved only for a certain “type” of people.
Secondly, the kingdom of God is compared to a wedding feast, an occasion commonly associated with laughter, good company, and much food. Jesus does say suffering and persecution will come in this life, but there is “fullness of joy” in God’s presence. (Psalm 16:11)
And now, back to the man with no wedding garment. Why was the king so harsh to him? While it would be nice for us to dress our Sunday best to church, it is likely that Jesus’ primary concern in this parable is not our attire.
This parable implies that there is more beyond just accepting the invitation. While it is open to all, we need to adhere to a certain “dress code.” Note that the man was in the wedding feast, which means he had accepted the invitation, BUT he was thrown out because he did not dress appropriately. So, it is possible for us to attend church week in and week out, and yet not be saved. Jesus is saying here that there is more to attending services; there needs to be a transformation of heart. Let us not mistake the wearing of wedding garment as working our way to salvation, for only God can save us. We need to surrender to Jesus’ lordship and allow our lives to be transformed by His grace as we pursue a relationship with Him.
What then are these “garments” that we are to put on? Paul gives us a hint in Colossians 3:12-14: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
So, let us put on love, for God so abundantly loves us. Life is too short for us to hold a grudge or to be vengeful; let us forgive as we have been forgiven. Also, let us put on our Sunday best even at our virtual service for we are not meeting the queen, but the King of kings!
Abba Father, we can never thank You enough for the love You have so abundantly given us. We remember that it is only through Jesus that we can enter Your kingdom and we ask for You to transform our hearts today. Help us put on love and live lives that please You.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
这个比喻最惊叹的部分是在故事的尾端。 当王进大厅观看宾客，见那里有一个没有穿礼服的， 就问他如何进入筵席不穿礼服。那人无言可答。 于是王叫使唤的人把他带出去。 其实王是用很严厉的话说：‘捆起他的手脚来，把他丢在外边的黑暗里，在那里必要哀哭切齿了。’
第一，天国是所有人都可以去的地方。 第十节说那些仆人就出去，到大路上凡遇见的，“不论善恶” 都召聚了来。所以我们必须小心不要认定神的国只是为了“某些”人而设的。
这个比喻意味着接受邀请不是仅有的意义。 虽然这邀请是公开给所有人，但我们需要遵守特定的“服装规范”。注意这人是在参加婚筵，这表示他已经接受邀请，但由于穿着不正确而被赶出去。 所以我们有可能一周又一周的参加教堂敬拜却没有得救。 耶稣在这里所要说的是我们不仅是来参加聚会与敬拜，更多的是改变心志的需要。 让我们不要把穿礼服误认为是我们得救的方法，因为唯有上帝才能拯救我们。 我们需要俯服于耶稣的主权，追求与祂有亲密的关系让我们的生命可以因他的恩典而改变。
那我们需要穿的“服装”是什么？保罗在歌罗西书3：12-14提示：“所以，你们既是神的选民、圣洁蒙爱的人，就要存怜悯、恩慈、谦虚、温柔、忍耐的心。 倘若这人与那人有嫌隙，总要彼此包容，彼此饶恕；主怎样饶恕了你们，你们也要怎样饶恕人。 在这一切之外，要存着爱心，爱心就是联络全德的。”
所以让我们穿上爱心，因为上帝是如此丰盛的爱我们。 生命是何等的短暂，不值得我们花时间去怀恨或报仇；让我们饶恕因我们已经被饶恕了。 还有让我们穿上星期天最好的穿着，就算是在线上敬拜也如此，因为我们要朝见的不是女王，而是万王之王！