Cutting through all the symbolism of this parable I want to assert straight away that this parable is about integrity, and a warning against smugness and complacency in our faith. Essentially it is about “cheap grace”.
The original guests that had been invited to the wedding banquet but found every excuse under the sun not to come represent the Jews who had rejected the gospel of Christ.
In the parable the wedding guests were the ones both good and bad who had been invited to the feast in their place. These people were the young church that included many gentiles outside the original “chosen people”.
So we have been invited to join the wedding party – which is the church! We are those wedding guests and we are here by right. But just as in society with rights also comes responsibilities which is the thrust of the final part of the parable.
We may recall that one of the guests was thrown out of the wedding party because he wasn’t wearing wedding clothes.
Now on the face of it that seems an extraordinary thing to do. What does it mean? It means that it is not enough to just be invited and come to the party. We need to adopt , to metaphorically “wear the clothes” of a Christian.
We should walk the walk rather than just talk the talk. In my sermons from Matthew’s gospel over the past few weeks have been talking about bearing the fruit of the gospel. The fruit of the gospel is our outward vesture. These are the “clothes” that we wear. It is what people see and react to.
The hard meaning of the parable is that a true disciple of Christ is one that exhibits in their life that the gospel is truly working in their life and affects the way we live and relate to God and our neighbour.
In Christianity this is achieved not by simply following the rules as presented in the Law in the Old Testament but is achieved by an inner transformation of our disposition by the Holy Spirit.
That incidentally, contrary to popular opinion, doesn’t mean a loosening of those rules. If anything the law of love is much tougher than the written law. Anyone who disputes that should consider the difference between “an eye for an eye” with Jesus’ command to “Love your enemies”. Which do you think is the harder requirement?
Jesus incidentally recognises that walking where he has walked before us is not easy. The way is narrow and few find it. People who do are those people we regard as the saints, and we remember them as an inspiration to us when we find ourselves tested.
Few may find that narrow way, but we are still asked to look for it. We must be pointing in that general direction and want to find it even if we don’t.
To use the picture language of the parable, we should be wanting to wear the wedding clothes even if they are sometimes ill fitting, makes us feel slightly uncomfortable and we have metaphorical stains all down our lovely white shirt or dress. There is a massive difference between trying and failing and not even trying.