“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:11-14)
This passage continues Matthew’s coverage of the confrontations between Jesus and the religious rulers of the Jews. The parable of the wedding feast demonstrates that these rulers have rejected Him and so have rejected the Kingdom of God. Now the Lord will open His Kingdom, will offer grace and mercy to those the Jews tried to keep out: the pagans and Gentiles. But this is not cheap grace. The Kingdom of Heaven may be a joyous celebration but, as the example of the treatment of the man who was not properly clothed shows us, no one can come into that Kingdom as they are, with all their sins and their own religious beliefs or practices.
What Jesus tells us is that, although the Lord desires to call all unto Himself, only those who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ can enter His Kingdom, no matter how good, noble or popular they are. This is very difficult for many people to accept in our present day considering the popular view that most people go to heaven or its equivalent regardless of their religious beliefs or moral character. In the world, moral character is not determined these days by referring to Biblical standards or even the 10 commandments. Goodness is determined by what is popular or how nice a person is, or how generous and friendly. But as Jesus says, we must be clothed in His righteousness, not our own.