Sunday, April 3, 2022

The Parable of the Wedding Feast: A Marriage Invite for You

Have you ever been to a very beautiful wedding ceremony? I’ve been to several weddings in my day that were just really something special. I think of my sisters wedding or my moms wedding to my step dad. Hard wood floors, flowers everywhere, beautiful smells, beautiful sights, the taste of sweet drinks and delicious food.

In a wedding that truly honors God, there is something special in the air. In particular, I’ve seen how Jewish-Christian weddings are set together, blowing the shofar, the wife symbolically circling the man like the moon circles the Earth. It’s truly beautiful, it’s rich with symbolism.

Think of your own wedding day. Or if you’re single, think of what you’ve always dreamed it might be. Something special, something that lasts. I would want mine to be rich with the presence of God, and meaningful. Not just words, but real commitment, for life.

Similar to this great dream of romantic marriage between man and woman, we see the parable of the wedding banquet which Jesus taught. In it he describes a grand wedding a king prepared, and those who were invited.

It goes like this, from Matthew chapter 22, “Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Alright, so there’s a lot to unpack there. But before we understand how it applies to us today, let’s consider how this spoke to the original audience.

Jesus was speaking to the Jewish people, in particular in Matthew 22 there were many Pharisees in the audience listening to the presentation Jesus was giving. And the Pharisees were the sort of religious leaders of this time. He was also speaking to the people in general.

But the traditional interpretation of this parable is that the king represents God, the son, Jesus Christ, and the kings servants were the old testament prophets. And the people that refused to come to the wedding banquet were the nation of Israel. So then the people who were invited along the streets were the gentiles, that’s us.

Very inflammatory, for the Jews to hear this parable, really saying to them, you refused the son of God, you mistreated the prophets, and now the gentiles, which were considered to be vermin by the Jews, are coming into the feast instead.

And in fact before this parable in Matthew 21 Jesus tells two additional parables that have a very similar theme, of God’s chosen people rejecting and failing to understand the coming of Jesus Christ.

So how does this parable speak to us today? It’s really quite beautiful actually. It pictures a king whose really excited for the wedding of his son. And we understand that our Lord’s son is Jesus Christ, and guess who the bride is? It’s us, we’re the bride. And when Jesus Christ returns to planet Earth and sets up his kingdom, we are going to be “married” to Him, forever. We won’t any longer have a sin nature. We won’t struggle any longer. We will be united with Jesus Christ, and we will be like Him, it says that actually in 1st John 3:2 “2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

So when Christ returns, we will be united with Him, in something I’m sure quite similar to a wedding feast.

God is calling us to this wedding banquet. Indeed, right now at this very moment he is calling all of humanity, across every country, every nationality, every language, every area of the world, from deserts to jungles to big cities to suburbs to cabins out in the woods, to come to this great wedding banquet.

But, like the Jews, many people are not willing to come, they say, oh, I’m sorry I have a new job I’m starting I can’t come, I have other plans, I don’t believe in the king, I don’t want to, all these excuses, so they don’t come in.

Ironically, just like the parable, we see all these very important people, at least by worldly standards, refusing to come, the rich, the elites, the tech giants, the CEOs, most of them aren’t coming in, and a lot of us, poor average everyday people, just average joes and janes are coming in instead, average, normal people, are coming to the wedding banquet. That’s how Jesus works. It’s open to anybody, richest man or woman in the world, it’s open to them. But, it’s a lot of us, average people. Not too special, just invited, and we decided to come. Good thing we did.

So first of all, we understand the context that this was meant to shame the Jews into realizing, hey we rejected the messiah, the gentiles are going in, so, we should go in as well. It was also a rebuke to the Pharisees.

Second, we see how this speaks to us, that many important people of our world reject the invitation, but we as average people are beautifully invited.

And God loves us. He’s got all the trimmings ready, choice meats, steaks, mashed potatoes gravy, green beans, casserole, fresh baked breads, beautifully set tables, and check this out, it says that if indeed we’re ready, and waiting for the master, in another parable actually, “37Blessed are those servants whom the master finds on watch when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve and will have them recline at the table, and he himself will come and wait on them.” From Luke 12:37.

Picture this, the wedding marriage feast of the lamb of God, we’re marrying Jesus, and Jesus is serving us, his servants, around the tables. Isn’t that beautiful?

Thirdly, we also see a warning at the end of this parable. Very typical for our Lord, he gives us a very encouraging, kind, loving message, but he also warns us about judgment, wrath, and watchfulness. Very common in the parables. God is both love and justice.

It says this in verses 11-14 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

So the king has invited all these people, but, we have to make sure we’re wearing our wedding clothes. What are the wedding clothes exactly? The parable doesn’t explain exactly what it is.

So I went to the word, here are two places where the garments of the wedding are talked about one from Revelation, “Revelation 19:7-8

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

That’s surprising because we would expect it to say “the finen linen is the righteousness of Christ, but instead it says the righteous acts of the saints. Jesus is always messing with out perfect picture of what our theology is. So be it.

But then jump to the old testament, Isaiah 61:10, “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

So you’ve got people who were invited, and they came. That must be Christians. All are invited, non Christians refuse to come, Christians have come. But for some reason, this person, and indeed it says many, will not be properly clothed when Christ returns, maybe they fell asleep, like the parable we looked at two weeks ago, the 10 virgins, the 5 who were unwise, didn’t store up oil, and they weren’t able to enter in.

And the same thing happens here, these people without wedding garments, it says will be thrown out into darkness, where it says there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. That is of course talking about, hell, outer darkness.

So in conclusion today, we want to make sure we’re ready, with our proper attire, which is Jesus Christ, and the righteous acts of the saints, which show evidence of who we are in Christ.

So today, we’re having prayer stations at the tables here at the chapel. I invite you to pray, and go from station to station, we’ll have about 20 minutes that we do that, then we’ll close. So take some time, go from location not location, and consider in the back of your mind, the wonderful banquet you’ve been invited to, and how much God loves you, and yet also, consider how you ought to remain alert and ready for the return of Jesus Christ, the master, making sure you have your appropriate garments on and ready, for the great wedding feast of the lamb.