(Jesus said) "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. ..." Matthew 22:11-13a
It's always interesting when one of Jesus' parables finds itself being duplicated in today's news.
That is just what happened when Amber Vinson, the second person in the U.S. who has contracted Ebola, was moved from Dallas Presbyterian Hospital to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
The TV cameras showed Vinson, in an enclosed capsule, being wielded across the airport tarmac into a waiting jet.
The people escorting her were all in (wedding garments) hazmat suits.
All the people visible were in hazmat suits, except for one fellow... a fellow who was dressed in a suit and was carrying a clipboard. As the procession moved, the man talked with the folks in the hazmat suits and at one point he even appeared to exchange an item with one of the fellows who was wearing the protective garb.
Having watched the video a few times, it looks as if the man is trying very hard to fit in and not be noticed.
Yes, he tried to fit in, but he failed: miserably, completely, totally.
It was obvious to every onlooker the man had failed. Like the fellow in Jesus' parable, the man was wrongly attired. It was a decision that might easily end up with him contracting the disease and find him being thrown into (outer darkness), i.e. an isolation unit.
Now many people when they hear this parable about the man without the wedding garment or the fellow without the hazmat suit get upset. They say, "Why should they get punished? Maybe they don't have the right clothes for the event." If you feel that way, let me share, it was customary for the king in the parable to give a wedding garment to the guests, even as it is customary for the government to give a hazmat suit to anyone who was helping move the Ebola patient.
In both cases, the outfits would have been free. The man in Jesus' parable and the man moving the Ebola patient could have been properly dressed, but they wanted to stay the way they were. The truth is if you are going to get into heaven or if you are going to avoid Ebola, there are certain things you need to do.
* To avoid contracting Ebola you need to wear a hazmat suit.
* To enter heaven, you need to be clothed in the garment of forgiveness, which is freely given to all who are brought to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, accept my thanks for giving me the garment that has covered my sins and brought me into heaven. May others also appreciate and enjoy Your grace and generosity. In the Savior's Name I pray it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries