Verse 7 says, “And the king was angry; and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” These were the Roman troops under Titus which destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The fact that the troops here are described as the king’s troops indicates that all the armies on earth are the Lord’s. Thus, the army of the Roman Empire was actually God’s army. God sent the Roman army as His forces to accomplish His purpose to destroy Jerusalem.
During the transitory period between the Old Testament and the New Testament, the old and the new overlapped. In the parable of the vineyard, the owner destroyed the evil men because they rejected, persecuted, and killed his servants. They even killed Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The parable of the marriage feast says that God will destroy the city because, after killing Christ, they also killed the apostles sent to invite them to the marriage feast. God did not destroy them immediately after they had killed the Son of God. By killing Him they helped to prepare the fatted beasts for the feast. But after the apostles had been rejected and killed, the Lord sent the Roman army under Titus to destroy the city of Jerusalem. Titus was cruel and merciless, tearing down the temple and burning the city. As the Lord Jesus had said, not one stone of the temple was left upon another. Furthermore, Titus killed a large number of Jews, the leaders in particular. This was the complete fulfillment of the Lord’s prophecy in this parable.
After the destruction of Jerusalem, God turned from the Jews to the Gentile world. Verses 8 and 9 say, “Then he says to his slaves, The marriage feast is ready but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and as many as you find, call to the marriage feast.” Because of the Jews’ rejection of the gospel, they were not worthy of the enjoyment of the New Testament (Acts 13:46). Therefore, the preaching of the New Testament was turned to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46; Rom. 11:11). Here the Gentile world is signified by the thoroughfares. Throughout the centuries, the preaching of the gospel in the Gentile world has been successful, although there has been some opposition and rejection.
Verse 10 says, “And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all whom they found, both evil and good; and the marriage feast was filled with those reclining at the table.” Because the proclamation was so prevailing, the marriage feast was filled with the called and invited ones.
Verse 11 says, “But when the king came in and beheld those reclining at the table, he saw there a man not clothed with a marriage garment.” The man without a marriage garment must surely have been a saved one. How could anyone answer God’s calling, yet not be saved? As long as we have answered God’s calling, we have been saved. In verse 14 the Lord Jesus speaks of many being called, and in Ephesians 4:1 Paul points out that we, the saved ones, are the called ones. We have been called to be saved. Although the man in verse 11 was called and saved, he nevertheless lacked the marriage garment.
This marriage garment is typified by the raiment of embroidery in Psalm 45:14 and signified by the fine linen in Revelation 19:8. This is the surpassing righteousness of the overcoming believers in Matthew 5:20. The man not clothed with a marriage garment is saved, because he has come to the marriage feast. He has received Christ as his righteousness that he might be justified before God (Phil. 3:9; 1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 3:26), but he has not lived Christ out as his subjective righteousness that he might participate in the enjoyment of the kingdom of the heavens. He has been called to salvation, but he is not chosen for the enjoyment of the kingdom of the heavens, which is only for the overcoming believers.
The wedding garment signifies our qualification to participate in the marriage feast. The New Testament mentions this feast at least twice, in Matthew 22 and in Revelation 19. According to Revelation 19, those invited to the marriage feast are clothed in white linen. The white linen in Revelation 19 is the marriage garment in Matthew 22. This white linen signifies the surpassing righteousness. Matthew 5:20 says, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.” This surpassing righteousness which qualifies us to participate in the manifestation of the kingdom in the coming age is typified in Psalm 45, where we are told that the queen has two garments. We, the believers, should also have two garments. We all have the first garment, the garment that qualifies us to be saved. This garment is the objective Christ whom we received as our righteousness before God. In Christ, who is our righteousness, we have been justified and saved. But after receiving Christ, we need to live Him out. We need to live by Christ so that Christ may become our subjective righteousness. This subjective righteousness, Christ lived out of us in our daily life, is the white linen, the second garment, the marriage garment that qualifies us to participate in the marriage feast.
In the parable of the vineyard, the Lord was strict with the husbandmen, requiring that their labor reach a certain standard. We need to drop the idea that because we are under grace the Lord is not strict with us. Many misunderstand the Lord and misuse His grace. Most Christians think that the Lord is not strict with us and that as long as we have His grace, everything is all right. However, the Lord is more strict with those who are under grace. Both the parable of the vineyard and the parable of the marriage feast reveal the strictness of the Lord in dealing with His people, whether Jews under the law or believers under grace. Do not think that because we have been invited to the marriage feast, we can afford to be careless. On the contrary, the Lord may come into the feast and pick you out as one not having the second garment. Yes, you have received Christ as your righteousness to be justified before God. But are you living by Christ? Is He your subjective righteousness?
The requirements of the second garment are strict, more than a matter of keeping a few commandments or regulations. Rather, day by day we need to live by Christ and live out Christ. This is not a matter of doing, but of living. In the New Testament economy, God does not mainly deal with our doings, but with our living, by whom and by what way we live. The small things in our daily living expose whether or not we live by Christ. It is easy to grasp the doctrine that we have been crucified with Christ, that we live no longer, and that Christ lives in us. But do we experience this as a reality in our daily life? Whenever we are careless in our daily living, we are not living by Christ. If we live in a loose, careless manner, we are not those with the marriage garment.
There is no problem regarding our salvation, for we have been called and justified. But what will be your situation before the judgment seat of Christ? Will you be qualified to enter the marriage feast? If you believe the first part of the gospel, then you must also believe the second part. How we need to look to the Lord for His mercy! We need to pray, “Lord, have mercy on me. I have received You, Lord, but I need more grace to live by You. Lord, because You are my Savior, I know that I am eternally saved. But I need Your grace that I may live by You as my life.” We need to speak by Christ, and even our anger must be according to Christ. When we are about to lose our temper, we should consider whether or not we are losing our temper by Christ. If we do this, we shall have a proper Christian living by Christ.
The second garment has been neglected by today’s Christians. Martin Luther helped us to know the first garment, Christ as righteousness for us to be justified by God. This truth was recovered more than four hundred years ago. But in the Lord’s recovery today we have come to the second garment. We need both the objective and subjective righteousness. This is an important matter in the Gospel of Matthew, for it is a requirement of the kingdom.
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