“Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” (Matthew 22:12)
My wife is a career schoolteacher. Either in high school or college, she has taught English all her adult life. (She has a bachelor’s degree from Bob Jones and a Master’s from Rhode Island College.) And I hear the tales…
Toward the end of the semester, at the time when term papers are due and tests are scheduled, invariably some student wants to be late or to be allowed to skip something or have a deadline rescheduled. And they always have excuses.
When the student has shown himself/herself to be conscientious and serious about their work, the teacher is disposed to want to help them. But in the case of a lazy student for whom this is a pattern, a loving, faithful teacher will refuse to make allowances. Give in to the lazy, self-indulgent student on this and all you do is reinforce that ugly pattern.
“Can you make an exception for me?”
Pastors hear this. Employers hear it. And as we say, college deans hear it all the time.
There is a good story in Scripture about this. It’s found in Matthew 22, part of a longer parable from our Lord….
When the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And (the man) was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The king knew one huge thing: Had that fellow entered by the door, the royal servants would have seen that he was properly attired. After all, the guests for this marriage supper of the prince had been hastily assembled from the “highways and hedges,” meaning not a single one had left home that morning expecting an invitation to the palace. No one had been prepared; everyone had been provided all they would need.
Except for that one. The plain implication is that one guest must have entered some way other than the door.
He wanted to be present, but on his own terms.
He would do it his way. (Cue the Paul Anka/Frank Sinatra song “I did it my way”.)
But his way was not good enough. His way was no way.
There is one door and one alone. When we enter through that Door, all that we need will be provided for us.
“I am the door,” said our Lord on another occasion (John 10:7,9) “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”
“Neither is there salvation in any other,” says Acts 4:12. “For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” said our Lord in John 14:6. “No one comes to the Father but by Me.”
“No one knows the Father except the Son,” said Jesus in His prayer, “and they to whom I reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27 and Luke 10:22).
No other way. Not good works, good intentions, or pure motives. Not a strong heritage, not a great ethic, not a theological education.
Jesus, only Jesus.
All of this raises a few questions..
One. Have you come to Jesus Christ for salvation? Eternal salvation (forgiveness, righteousness, Heaven) is available nowhere else. “In Christ alone.”
It’s not “Jesus and” anything else. Anything we add as an additional requirement to salvation diminishes Jesus and insults His sacrifice on the cross.
Two. Are you willing to believe something this narrow knowing full well that this culture sees such as inflammatory and offensive?
I was standing a few feet behind Billy Graham when a reporter asked, “Mister Graham, do you believe that salvation is only through Jesus Christ and no one else?” He didn’t hesitate. “Christians are not left to decide this on our own. Jesus Christ Himself said ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” It’s the only answer that will stand.
Three. Does the church to which you belong teach this? If it doesn’t, the question is why are you still in it?
To remain in a church that fails to teach people how to be saved just because we like the people, all our friends are there, “my daddy built this church,” or a thousand other reasons, is to put ourselves before faithfulness to Christ. And that is not allowed for Christ-followers. Either you are a Christ-follower or you aren’t.