Matthew 22:1-14 – The Invitation

Matthew 22:1-14 – The Invitation November 6, 2016

Wedding FeastThe Wedding Feast is perhaps the happiest picture of the Kingdom of God that is given in the Bible.  We find it portrayed in Matthew 25 and in Revelation 19:7, where we read, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready.”   And Christ’s first miracle at the initiation of His public ministry took place at a wedding feast.

In weddings in ancient Israel, first came the wedding itself.  The bridegroom wore a diadem and was accompanied by his friends with tambourines and a band.  The party then proceeded to the bride’s house, where she was richly dressed and adorned with jewels, wearing a veil which she took off only in the bridal chamber.  The wedding was consummated on the first night, but next came a great feast, which lasted for seven days and could even be prolonged to two weeks.  The guests were expected to stay during this whole time, and so attending the wedding feast required a commitment and more than leaving a card saying that the gravy boat was now registered at Target.

There are two things to keep in mind regarding the wedding feast of the son of the king.  First, this is the biggest and best feast of all.  Second, only a fool would desire or dare to refuse.

Those who refused the gracious invitation would face ridicule by peers, discipline by the king, and would miss out on the joy of the wedding feast itself.

And so we have Jesus’ teaching about His kingdom: it’s like the wedding feast of the son of the king.  God is the King; Jesus is the Son; and the Wedding Feast is the Kingdom of Heaven.  This parable applies not only to the 1st century Jews but also to us.

Historically, the Jews wouldn’t come, and, like those in the parable, made excuses for not coming.  They wouldn’t listen to prophets but instead killed them.  In fulfillment of prophecy, in A.D. 70, a Roman army destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.  The response of the Jews to God’s invitation and God’s ensuing judgment on them are instructive for us, and there are three ways we might respond to God’s gracious invitation.

Like the Jews, we might refuse to come and make excuses; we might come but without the proper garments; or we might come dressed and committed.  We might, in the first place, make lame excuses: I’ve got to go milk my cows and pull some weeds; I’ve got to take care of this pressing business.  One of my favorite excuses proceeded out of the lips of Gloria, my daughter who was two at the time.  When asked why she did something, she thought a minute and replied: “Because I was feezing cold!”

We, too, make excuses.  “I’m too busy to worry about God: it (He) can wait.”  But if there was ever a thing in your life about which you truly could not wait, it is for you to commit yourself to God.

“I’m O.K. the way I am.”  We make excuses for our sin and minimize them, and thereby make little of the sacrifice of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

“I can come to God anyway and anywhere I want to: I don’t need to go to church or worship Him in a particular way.”

“I’m so bad that God wouldn’t want me.”  No, you are not worthy, but God will make you righteous, through Jesus Christ, if you have true faith.

Some even actively work against God, by persecuting those who follow Him whole-heartedly.  Our persecution is still light here in the U.S.  But we’re called fanatics and bigots and fundamentalists – and this by others who call themselves Christians!

Like the Jews, our excuses seem to make sense at the time, but how could they possibly justify not accepting an invitation to God’s feast?!

There are also those who are not dressed with the proper wedding garments.  In Christ’s parable, the host had made all things ready.  The king desired to have the rules of His feast obeyed, but one man insisted on coming in his own way, in effect, making himself more important than the king.  It’s likely that the man came in through some other way than the door: “How did you get in without the proper garment?”

Like this man, we might actually come into the Kingdom of God; we might be a member of a church; we might even sit in the pew faithfully week by week . . . .  And yet it is still possible to be like the man who was at the feast without the proper garment.  It’s possible to be in the church, but not to have entered through the only acceptable door, which is Jesus Christ Himself.  There are some in the Church who do not have true faith.  There are some in the Church who have entered out of habit; some who have entered for social reasons; and some who have entered on the basis of their own righteousness.

But the only way one can truly enter into the Marriage Feast of God’s Kingdom is to enter through Jesus Christ.

Many commentators believe that the wedding garments are the new life of good works.  It’s not enough to have been baptized; it’s not enough to go to church; and it’s not even enough to claim to have faith.  One must be clothed with good works that are the proof of our faith.

In Revelation 19:8-9, John records: “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.  Then he said to me, ‘Write “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”’”

The commentator’s have it only partially right.  We are only righteous and our good works are only profitable if Jesus Christ is our righteousness.  And those good works are His good works that can’t be separated from Him or a relationship with Him.  This is the one garment that God the Father will look for when He judges men at the end of all time.

Have you remembered to put on Jesus Christ and His righteousness?

What was the King’s response to the man without the proper garments?  His mouth was stopped: He is “muzzled.”  He was bound, hand and foot.  He was cast out into outer darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  There are dire, eternal consequences for those who do not come to God’s kingdom – and for those who do not come the right way.

Hell is a very real place, and Jesus speaks more frequently and forcefully about the truth of Hell than anyone else in the Bible.

But thank God that there are also those who come dressed and committed.  All of you, if you truly come to God through Jesus Christ and if you truly come confessing your sins and turning from them, will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven and be made participants in the greatest party ever thrown!

If you do hear and accept God’s wondrous call to His feast and put on Christ as your righteousness, then you shall be partakers of the greatest feast of all, with joys beyond the greatest joys of earth.  All of life is a banquet God spreads for us, although it’s not complete or perfect yet.  Yet who among you is unable to see the goodness of God, even in this life?

Every good thing in this life is a reminder of what life in God’s kingdom is like, even in this life.  Every good thing in this life is a reminder of the unspeakable joys of the world to come.  A Cubs World Series victory; the reflection of the moonlight along a wet, sandy beach; the warmth and cuddliness of a young child the first time you pick him up in the morning . . . .

The Holy Communion!  God has even graciously given us the greatest means of all to participate in the Marriage Feast of His Son: it’s called the Holy Communion.  It’s the anticipation of that Great Wedding Feast in heaven, but it’s also a participation in that Great Wedding Feast – even now.  For right here, in the Body and the Blood, we participate with Jesus Christ.  Right here, in the Bread and the Wine, we feed off Jesus Christ, who is our Daily Bread that comes down from heaven.  And right here we put on Jesus Christ, as He comes to nourish our bodies and souls.

Today, you have received an invitation to the Wedding Feast of the Son of God.

“Come to the Wedding Feast of the Son – for all has been made ready!”

Prayer:  Banish, O Lord, both grief and wrath, and then the dumb shall exult in song.  Guide us in the paths of righteousness.  Gladden our hearts with Your presence and gifts.  With the sanction of those present we will bless our God, in whose abode is joy, and of whose bounty we have partaken.  Amen.  (From a Jewish grace after a wedding feast) 

Point for Meditation: 

  1. What might I do to view God’s Kingdom as a Feast that has already started?
  2. What excuses have I been making for not attending the Feast?

Resolution:  I resolve to find one way today to participate in God’s Feast, which is life in His Son. 

 

A Boyar Wedding Feast in the U.S. Public Domain


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