As was usually the case, when Jesus spoke to the crowds, the religious rulers were right there, listening, critically examining, and scheming how to use His Words against Him. The Pharisees and chief priests may not have understood all that Jesus implied in His parables, but they did get the point that He was often speaking about them in their relationship with God, and it was never good.
This parable describes the circumstances surrounding the Son of God during His marriage feast after consummation with His Bride – the church. Jesus came to the nation of Israel that Yahweh had chosen as His very own of all nations on the earth. The inhabitants of Israel were God’s Chosen People, special and blessed, because of their unique status. But, as in the parable when the feast was prepared and the guests invited, most ignored or rejected the invitation. The nation of Israel was largely indifferent to Jesus when He came to walk among them, and the primary offenders were the overtly religious. When Jesus pointed this out, the Pharisees realized they were the target, but in their hardened hearts, they couldn’t find room for the truth of God.
Because of what Israel as a whole did to Jesus, the Father in His anger – just as the parable’s king – destroyed those who didn’t honor Him. In preparation for the feast, God sent His prophets and heralds, but few listened. As a result, He brought great destruction upon the land and punished His people for their blasphemous response to His righteous offer of goodness for them.
To compensate for the lack of guests that should have come from those who already lived in the kingdom, the king invited anyone and everyone who would come to the feast. Gentiles throughout the world were invited to join the kingdom in the form of those who would believe in Christ and be part of His church. They were given wedding garments, linen robes of righteousness, and welcomed as only a king could who graciously treated his honored guests.
Revelation 19:6-10 describes this amazing fulfillment of Jesus’ parable:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
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 clothe herself
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.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
This occurs at the very end of the Tribulation. The glorified saints who were Raptured and spent the last seven years in heaven in consummation of the marriage now accompany the bridegroom to the marriage feast arrayed in their fine linen, i.e. their wedding garments (Revelation 19:14). Jesus comes in His glory in the 2nd Coming with His Bride right behind Him. He wages war on those gathered on the plains of Armageddon who plan to destroy the holy city of Jerusalem. With simply a Word He destroys all who have opposed Him during this period.
Shortly after this, the great wedding feast will be given. To emphasize that this celebration is only for those who have believed in, trusted, and followed Jesus, i.e. those who have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb, the parable gives us one more detail. In Matthew 22:11-14, we see the following interchange and consequence:
“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. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
All who will enter the kingdom of heaven must have a wedding garment. All must have come to Jesus, believing in Him as the way, truth, and life. None will sneak into the kingdom in their own righteousness; all must enter clothed in the garments of fine linen, i.e. the purity found only through the forgiveness of sins that Jesus alone provides.
The consequence for rejecting the kingdom that God offers everyone is the outer darkness described in the parable. It is a horrible place where all who reside will experience great remorse forever. When Satan is seized and bound for a thousand years in the deep pit (Revelation 20:2-3), the souls of the many unbelievers who died likewise inhabit this place for that entire time.
When Satan is released at the end of the Millennium to wage and lose his final war against God, all who have opposed Him will be resurrected to stand before the Lord at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). Books are opened and deeds double-checked. All are judged and punished for their choice in life to reject the One who could have redeemed them. At that point, Satan and all sinful humanity are cast into the Lake of Fire for their fearful end.
Aren’t you glad you’ve surrendered your life to Jesus?