"And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless" (Matthew 22:11-12).
The text is part of a parable Jesus gave to help us understand the nature of salvation and entrance into the heavenly kingdom. He begins this passage by stating: "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come" (vv.2-3). Many of the religious rulers had heard the good news of salvation through repentance and refused to humble themselves and come to the Savior. The same is true of many religious leaders today.
So the passage goes on to tell how the king's servants were sent: "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage" (v.9). Still today we find that the simple invitation of entrance to the heavenly kingdom by faith is better received amongst the common folk than the educated elites.
But there were some who attempted to enter into the kingdom by their own works. The middle eastern custom of that day was for the host to give each guest a special robe so all (even poor folks) could be dressed cleanly and equally for the wedding feast. It was an insult to refuse this garment and to insist on intruding in work clothes. Today, all who attempt to gain entrance into heaven by their own righteousness will incite the king's wrath: "Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen" (vv.13-14). DW