In this story God has prepared a lavish feast but those originally invited refused, so the invitation was broadened to all who were willing. The new, inclusive invitation specifically calls those who are suffering, despised and looked down upon. Only one stipulation is given; that all must put on the wedding garments provided.
The invitation does not regard social standing, gender, ethnic alliance, occupation or health status. The single mother, abandoned by her lover, rejected by her family; the widow desperate to pay the rent and educate her children, the lonely long distance lorry driver, the orphan who cries herself to sleep, the street child who sleeps hungry, the teen who has been trafficked to satisfy someone else’s greed, the grieving grandmother caring for orphaned grandchildren; all have been invited to come to the banquet, feast and sit with the King of Kings. And still there is room for more at His table.
Sadly many have excluded themselves by rejecting the invitation. Some are too busy with their own concerns. Others are preoccupied with maintaining wealth, religious position or political influence. Still others have chosen not to associate with the rest of God’s invited guests out of arrogance and pride. Fears, notions and misunderstanding prevent some. Yet God still extends his invitation to them.
For those who accept the invitation, Isaiah 25:6 notes that their tears will be wiped away and their disgrace removed. Our King has provided the robe of Christ’s righteousness to cover the raggedness of our lives. In the custom of Jesus’ day the host provided special clothing for the guests so that none need feel out of place or unacceptable. To not wear that robe is to disdain and snub our righteous King.
The righteous robe of Christ is woven with compassion, grace, generosity, patience, gentleness, kindness, mercy, peace, and justice. This robe can be worn by all regardless of faults, failures or circumstances.
In order to participate in this glorious wedding feast it is essential for those claiming to be followers of the risen Lord to express the righteousness of Christ in both word and action. It should be noted that only the King discerned that one guest was not wearing the correct garments. It behoves us to ask ourselves if we have adequately “worn” the righteousness of Christ in our interactions with those who are dear to His heart. There is no place for discriminating acts or stigmatizing words at His banquet.
For all who have known the pain of isolation, stigma and rejection, there is a marvellous hope for inclusion as beloved guests at Christ’s table. To those who have borne shame and disgrace, God offers His beautiful robe with its healing folds of compassion, forgiveness, tenderness and grace.
May we all, forgiven, accepted, and wearing His robes, come together and feast at His table!
To think about: Have you dressed for the banquet by demonstrating righteous acts of compassion and covering your speech with kind and gentle words? Are you leaving behind your tattered garments of judgmentalism, arrogance, condescension, apathy and indifference? Will you embrace and assist the others whom God has invited to his table including those living with HIV and their families?
Written by: Hope Hessler Carter is: Lecturer in the AIDS Ministries Department of Moffat Bible College, Kijabe, Kenya; member of Kenya’s Churches for Grace advisory board; champion for positive teens and former author of the SIM Hope for AIDS Prayer Guide and a trained Channels of Hope facilitator