Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Lord Loves a Sharp-Dressed Man

"Lord loves a workin' man" - so saith Navin R. Johnson, of 1979's The Jerk. I am sure Navin was right, but today's Gospel reminded me that the Lord also loves a properly attired-man. 

In Matthew 22, the Lord Jesus compared the Kingdom to a king who threw a wedding feast for his son. When the invited guests ignored the king's invitation and murdered his servants, the king sent his soldiers to burn their city (an image of Rome's sack of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., in response to the repeated actions of its leaders). The king then dispatched more servants:
"'Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen" (Mt. 22:9-14).
As in the parables of the wheat and the tares (Mt. 13:41-42), and the net containing both good and bad fish (13:47-50), the parable of the wedding feast reminds us that Christ's Kingdom on earth, His Church, is made up of both the righteous and unrighteous. Professing Jesus as Lord and Savior and receiving Baptism are incredibly important, but they are just the beginning.  To enter the wedding banquet - the life of Heaven and the establishment of the Kingdom in power at the end of time - we have to put on the right garments, and towards the end of the Book of Revelation we are told what they are:

"'Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure'—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, 'Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb'" (Rev. 19:7-9).

Proper wedding attire = righteous deeds.  A well-dressed man and workin' man are one and the same! (I always felt Navin was a lot more clever than people gave him credit for.)  Or as James concluded, "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (Jas 2:24).

If you want to read more about the synergy between faith and works, you may want to look here and here.