For the longest time I have wondered about the meaning or significance of the parable of the wedding feast found in Matthew 22:1-14. More specifically, what is Jesus trying to tell us with the wedding guest that was given the boot? At face value we can merely see the significance of having the proper wedding garment on at the wedding, but there seems to be something more to this than just that. Think about it, why would Jesus be telling us about the wedding guest who didn’t have the wedding garment when we’re the bride, and more importantly how did the wedding guest even make it to the wedding to begin with? Well, I have some thoughts on this. I realize that this may be controversial to say the least, but I ask that you will take it to prayer and ask God about this before making any quick judgments on it.
To begin with, let’s establish who the Bride of Christ is. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 Paul tells us about the body of Christ and how it is made up of many different types of members, and then in verse 27 he plainly tells us that we are the body of Christ and members individually. Furthermore, Paul also tells us in Ephesians 5:22-33 that the relationship between Christ and the church is like that between a husband and a wife. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul also tells us that we are betrothed to one husband so he can present us as a pure virgin to Christ. We, the children of God, saved by grace through faith in Jesus, are not only a part of the body of Christ, but we are also the Bride of Christ.
This is further established when we understand the marriage customs of ancient Jews during the time Jesus was here, and when we see how our relationship and future with Jesus parallels those very customs. When we accept Christ as both savior and Lord of our life, we enter into a marriage contract with Jesus. In our western culture, entering into marriage starts and is completed with the “I do’s” that both the bride and groom indicate during the marriage ceremony, leaving only the consummation later that day. This is not the process in the marriage customs of ancient Jews. When the bride and groom agree to enter marriage they enter into a marriage contract. After they’ve entered into this marriage contract with each other, the groom then leaves to go prepare a place for him and his new bride without even consummating the marriage. The bride does not know when her groom will return for her, but it is her responsibility as she waits to both prepare herself for him and to keep watching for his return. If the groom returns to find that his bride had not prepared herself for him, or that she was not watching for him or if she had her attention or affections towards another, he could return to his father’s house without her even knowing he was there and will give her a letter of divorcement. This would be final. However, if he did return and found she had prepared herself for him, and that her affections and attention was still towards him and watching for his return, she would return to his father’s house with him where they would consummate the marriage and have a wedding party that would last on an average of seven days. Can you see the parallels between these ancient marriage customs and our relationship and future with Jesus? I hope you see them.
So, who are the wedding guests at the wedding party? There are some who believe that we, the church, are the wedding guests Jesus refers to, but that doesn’t match up with scripture. We’ve already established that the church is the bride of Christ, and so it wouldn’t make sense that we are the wedding guests. Would it? I don’t think so. Based on the relationship we have with Christ, and the return we are waiting and watching for called the rapture, I think it is safe to say that the wedding guests are all who lived and died prior to Jesus that were Gods, as well as those who surrender and give their lives to Jesus after the rapture event takes place. The church is the bride of Christ and did not exist prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the church will be caught up to be with Christ at the rapture.
In Matthew 25:1-13, we have Jesus telling us the parable of the ten virgins. Some people would like to say that the virgins represented in this parable are the wedding guests, but that doesn’t make sense. For one thing, the bridegroom doesn’t come to get the wedding guests, and if the virgins represented the wedding guests how come they were not allowed to enter the wedding party after the bridegroom took the wise virgins back? Based on the marriage customs of the ancient Jews, during the wedding party that would take place over several days, some of the guests would come to the party after the marriage was consummated, so it wouldn’t make sense that in this parable the guests would not be allowed to enter in. There may be some who think these are the guests because there are more than one virgin represented in this parable, but we have to remember that Paul tells us in one of the scriptures I referred to earlier that we are all a part of one body, but many members. Just as we all make up the body of Christ, even so we all make up the Bride of Christ.
So, referring back to the scripture in Matthew 22 that talks about the wedding feast and the wedding guest that gets the boot, is there any reasonable explanation as to who this guest is and how they made it to the wedding feast without the wedding garment? I believe there is an explanation, but it will be a tough one for many to swallow as it cuts against the grain of what we may have been taught in the past. Do you want to hear of one explanation of this? Are you ready to hear it even though it is controversial?
Okay, here we go. When we accept Christ as our savior and Lord, we exchange our rags of filthiness for His robes of righteousness. That’s a pretty good deal if I may say so. We briefly touched on how many who have started a relationship with Christ will not make it into heaven. In Matthew 7:13-14 we are told that there are two gates to go through, one that is broad and leads to destruction, and one that is narrow and leads to life. Jesus tells us that many will go the way of the broad gate while just a few will go the way of the narrow gate. Later in that same chapter, in verses 21-23, Jesus makes it clear that there will be many who refer to Him as Lord, citing all that they did and accomplished in His name that will not be allowed to enter heaven. There are other scriptures that seem to indicate not only that there will be many who think that they are saved that will not enter into heaven, but also that there will be some who once walked with Jesus that will not be numbered among those in Heaven. Among these other scriptures there seems to be one that just doesn’t get much attention for some reason.
In Revelation 16:15, in the midst of the different judgments the Apostle John tells us about, Jesus makes an interesting comment. Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” In both Luke 21:34-36 and in Matthew 24:42-44, Jesus tells us to watch for His return. Many think that it isn’t important to be watching for His return, but that is in contradiction to what Jesus tells us to do. There must be a reason why Jesus made a point to tell His followers to be watching. Jesus doesn’t stop with blessing those who are watching for His return, but He continues on by narrowing things down to those who not only watch for Him but also keep their garments. This is an indication that even though someone may have entered a saving relationship with Jesus, at which time they received His robe of righteousness that it is possible to be without it. Furthermore, apparently those who were not watching or did not keep their garments will be found naked and others will see their shame. I believe it is safe to say that those who took on the name of Jesus but were not ready and prepared for His return lost their robes of righteousness when His bride was caught up to be with Him. Can you imagine the shame those who were not ready will experience when others recognize them as those who called themselves Christians yet did not go up in the rapture? I imagine it will be very overwhelming and humbling.
I know that growing up I found myself thinking if a Christian was not ready to go up in the rapture, that there was still a chance for them during the tribulation period though the price to be paid would be much higher. I also knew that there would be some during the tribulation period that would find their eternal destination in Heaven only if they were martyred for Christ. This has changed for me over the past several years. While I still believe that there will be many who will receive salvation during the tribulation period by way of giving their lives for Christ, I am no longer convinced that unprepared Christians, or ‘foolish virgins’, will have another opportunity if they miss the rapture. I think as the unprepared bride who was not watching for the grooms return missed out and was then given in finality a letter of divorce, even so the ‘foolish virgins’ and unprepared Christians will find out that they squandered any opportunity of eternity in heaven when they missed the rapture. I think this is where the wedding guest gets the boot.
You see, this particular wedding guest did not have a wedding garment on, and when questioned they were speechless, possibly thinking that they did have the proper attire on. I can’t help but wonder if this is one of the ‘foolish virgins’ or unprepared Christians who attempted to enter heaven as a wedding guest by dying a martyrs death during the tribulation, but because they already had the robe of righteousness at one time but lost it, they did not have the proper attire when they arrived at the wedding.
Now at this time I must clarify something. Not everyone who claimed to be a Christian actually entered into a saving relationship with Christ at any time, and so it is impossible for anyone to say that anyone who called themselves a Christian that missed the rapture has no hope for salvation. This can only be decided by God, Himself, and if anyone is left behind I strongly encourage them to still give themselves and their lives over to Christ.
Time is very, very short for the imminent return of Jesus for His bride. The pieces of Biblical prophecy regarding the return of Jesus for His bride and the tribulation period are rapidly coming into place. I’ve already highlighted some of these in a previous article, but to add to that list is the fact that Syria is speedily entering into a position that almost guarantees their destruction as described in Isaiah 17, an event that most scholars and prophecy ‘experts’ believe will take place either just before or just after the rapture of the church. This could possibly be the very event that brings the anti-Christ on the stage. People, this is not the time to be gambling with your eternity, but instead take all the steps you can with determination to make sure you are right with Jesus, ready and prepared for His return. This involves getting sin out of your life, which will probably require some pretty tough decisions and actions on your part. This is also the time to let go of any hurts, wounds or offenses you’ve picked up over the years, as well as any unforgiveness, resentments or bitterness. Time is short! Don’t delay! Your eternity hinges on it.
If this article ministered to you, I ask that you will consider sharing it with others to help them prepare for Christ’s soon return. While I appreciate the Facebook ‘Like’ buttons, I believe sharing it will reach many more people and have an opportunity to help others. If you’re also on Twitter, I ask that you will be sure to ‘re-tweet’ this to others as well. The more people that see this the better.