The Wrong Clothes

…he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he *said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 22:11-13

As a child, I read this and could only think how unfair this seemed: punishing a poor man because he couldn’t afford nice clothes. But, clearly, I didn’t understand the context of the story.

Does God care about the clothing we wear? Scripture says He does.

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? Luke 12:27-28

God knows how to provide necessary clothes for us, so there is no need to worry about what we will wear. But, what does that have to do with a wedding guest being thrown into outer darkness for wearing the wrong clothes?


When we look at Matthew 22, we find that Jesus was telling a story – a parable – to illustrate the kingdom of heaven. If we want to spend eternity in heaven rather than the outer darkness, we need to pay close attention to what Jesus said.

The Story

A king was throwing a party to celebrate his son’s marriage and, when the day arrived, the invited guests refused to attend. At the second summons, they ignored the invitation and continued about their business as usual, while some of the invitees actually mistreated and even killed the messengers. The king retaliates by destroying the murderers and burning their city. He then sends out his servants with a new message to new recipients.

Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. Matthew 22:8-10

The new invitees were not the important or the rich or the prestigious. They were people on the streets, both evil and good. The king didn’t have ambitious requirements for the guests, he just wanted people to gather and celebrate with his family and accepted all who would come. All except one.


Let’s consider the rejected one. He was not on the “A-List”, but he was invited. Not only was he invited, but he showed up. He wanted to be there. He wanted to be admitted. He wanted to be fed. He wanted to be part of the festivities. But, he was wearing the wrong clothes.

The inference is that the guests were provided wedding clothes, so this guest had every opportunity to wear what was necessary, and yet he chose to ignore that gift. He dishonored the marriage. He dishonored the king. He didn’t care about anything but his own comfort and convenience. He created his own terms and wouldn’t submit to the reigning authority.

What Does This Mean to Us?

How does this apply to us today? Jesus assured us (John 14) that he is preparing a place for us and will personally come to get us and take us home. That day is coming and we need to be ready; so, how should we prepare ourselves?

For the day of the Lord is near,
For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice,
He has consecrated His guests.
“Then it will come about on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice
That I will punish the princes, the king’s sons
And all who clothe themselves with foreign garments.
“And I will punish on that day all who leap on the temple threshold,
Who fill the house of their lord with violence and deceit. Zephaniah 1:7-9

This Old Testament passage shows that no one is exempt – not even the king’s sons. Is there hope for us?

And shall we be saved?
For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:6

Good News

The good news is that God not only knows our predicament, but desires to provide a way to overcome our lack.

Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the Lord was standing by. Zechariah 3:3-5

The garments God provides are more than just clean; they are powerful enough to cover all our iniquities and shortcomings!

For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, Isaiah 61:10

God doesn’t force us to receive His salvation, His righteousness. He offers an invitation that we can choose to accept or reject. However, we cannot approach Him on our own terms when He has already made the way. Jesus is the only way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Him. There is no other name under heaven by which men must be saved.

The Contrast

There is a current belief trend that God’s love and grace is so all-encompassing that He accepts anyone in any condition. This is an attitude of rebellion that denies the need for Jesus’ propitiatory sacrifice.

But we must remember that God is holy and cannot be approached in unholiness. Our iniquities must be removed and we must receive His robe of righteousness, His garments of salvation, before we can come into His presence.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14

Will you answer the call?
Will you receive His provision?
Will you accept His gift on His terms?

Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.