Summary: Fourth in this series. The parable of the Weeding Banquet pictures God's invitation to a relationship with Him.

I don’t know if you’ve ever really thought of in quite this way, but the gospel accounts of Jesus show that He really enjoyed a good party. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been reading John’s gospel account and there we find that the very first miracle that Jesus performed occurred at one of the most joyous and important parties in the culture of that day – a wedding feast. And by turning water into wine, Jesus made sure that the party would continue as planned.

When Jesus calls a tax collector named Matthew to follow Him, He goes to Matthew’s house and joins in the party that is already going on there. And a number of the parables that Jesus taught, including the one we’ll look at this morning, also revolve around parties.

So it’s not surprising that when the religious leaders wanted to criticize Jesus, about the only thing they could come up with was to accuse Him of going to too many parties – especially parties that were frequented by the wrong people like tax collectors and other notorious sinners.

Sometimes, I think we can be a lot like those Pharisees and forget that Jesus compared God’s invitation to be part of His kingdom to a king inviting His subjects to a great party. And as a result, we not only lose our own joy that comes from being part of a great party but we lose our enthusiasm for inviting others to join the party as well. My prayer is that the parable that we’ll look at this morning will be used by God both to restore our own joy and to reinvigorate our passion to invite others to join us in the kingdom.

You can turn in your Bibles to Matthew 22 and in just a moment, I’ll read the parable that begins in verse 1. But first, let me take a moment to set the stage.

If you turn back to chapter 21 of Matthew, you can see the events that lead up to Jesus telling this parable. Jesus enters into Jerusalem on what we normally refer to as Palm Sunday. Although it’s difficult to be absolutely sure about the exact chronology of Jesus’ last week, there is some good evidence in the text to suggest that that event actually took place on Monday.

The next day Jesus entered the Temple and for the second time in His ministry drove out the money-changers and healed the blind and lame there. He then went to Bethany for the night.

The next day, probably Wednesday, less than 48 hours before His crucifixion, Jesus returns to the Temple. According to Luke’s account, Jesus was teaching and preaching the gospel when He is confronted by the Jewish religious leaders who question His authority to heal and to teach.

Jesus responds with a series of three parables that are in essence messages of judgment against those very religious leaders. The first is a parable about two sons, the second is about a vineyard leased out to some tenant farmers and the third is the one we’ll look at this morning. You can follow along as I start reading in verse 1 of chapter 22 of Matthew’s gospel account:

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“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.”

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