So he said to him, ‘Fellow, how did you get in here without a marriage garment?’ He was speechless. – Matt.22:12
In the parable of the Wedding Feast the king (=Jehovah) is questioning the guest that turned up without the appropriate clothing for the occasion. Jesus used this parable to show what the kingdom of heaven will be like when the end comes. In the first part of this parable, the king (=the Father,God Jehovah) sends his servants out to gather the wedding guests to the wedding feast. But the outcome is somewhat surprising, most of the ones invited refused to come for various reasons, some because they were too busy with their own lives and some because they were outright hostile toward the king and his servants. So the king commands his servants to go out and invite anyone they find, and many come and fill the wedding hall.
In its first century application most Jewish people rejected Jesus for various reasons and others, like the Pharisees, although they were first in line to receive the invitation ,not only reject it but they also persecuted Jesus. So the invitation was extended to “anyone” including men “unlettered” coming from the lowest classes of the Jewish nation but willing and eager to receive the Messiah.
But right before the Wedding Feast commences there is a final inspection of all those invited .Matthew 22:11-13 says :”When the king came in to inspect the guests, he caught sight of a man not wearing a marriage garment. So he said to him, ‘Fellow, how did you get in here without a marriage garment?’ He was speechless.Then the king said to his servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and throw him into the darkness outside. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be.”
Although the rejection of the invitation to be a member of the heavenly class of “anointed ones” from the religious leaders of the Jewish nation presented an opportunity for others to be part of this class, others who wouldn’t have been invited in the first place ,that was not an invitation without conditions. Being invited in the Wedding Feast meant that you had to make sure that you looked and acted as a responsible guest .You had to be wearing your marriage garment.
The criterion applied by the King was, not whether one was “good” or “bad” at the time the slaves found him on the roads, but whether one was wearing the “wedding garment.” What is this garment? We find the answer in the following words: “Let us rejoice and be overjoyed and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has arrived and his wife has prepared herself.Yes, it has been granted to her to be clothed with bright, clean, fine linen—for the fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the holy ones.”(Rev. 19:7,8)The wedding garment represents the Kingdom service on earth, and to put it on therefore means a course of obedience toward the King and his Son. On the contrary, a failure to wear the wedding garment means a refusal to bear the reproaches that are heaped upon the King’s slaves.—Rev. 19:7, 8.
This is similar to what Jesus warned in the book of Revelation 16:15 :”“Look! I am coming as a thief. Happy is the one who stays awake and keeps his outer garments, so that he may not walk naked and people look upon his shamefulness.”
In both verses in Matthew and the book of Revelation there is a clear warning : To be called to the Wedding Feast isn’t an automatic qualifier for the heavenly class .Jehovah and his Son have extended their invitation ,now it is up to you to live up to your calling wearing and maintaining your “marriage garment” or “outer garments” up to the time of the end .In ancient Israel, any priest or Levite on guard duty at the temple had a heavy responsibility. Jewish commentators tell us that if anyone was caught sleeping on such duty, his garments could be stripped from him and burned, so that he was publicly shamed.
Jesus here warns that something similar can happen today. The priests and Levites foreshadowed Jesus’ anointed brothers. (1 Peter 2:9) If any allow the pressures of Satan’s world to lull them to sleep or into inactivity, they are likely to lose these outer garments—in other words, lose their clean identification as “anointed” Christians. Such a situation would be shameful. It would put one in danger of losing out completely.