Summary: A vision of worship based on the picture of the Kingdom of God as a wedding banquet
A Galactic Gala – Becoming A Festival Pt. 4
Matt. 22:1-14 February 22/23, 2002
Friday September 6th was a very good night to be a football fan in Edmonton. The Eskimos pounded the defending Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders 45-11 to sweep the two game Labour Day series and improve their West Division leading record to 9-2-0.
A crowd of 61,481 jammed Commonwealth Stadium. It was the largest crowd ever to watch an Eskimos home game (until last year’s Grey Cup final, with 62 531) and the largest crowd to ever attend a CFL regular season game.
I was one of those 61 481 people, sitting in our unofficial “Laurier” section, giving Neil Attwell a hard time because he had “Go Stamps Go” written in black marker across his belly. There was something unique about that experience. Every touchdown the Eskimos made the crowd jumped to their feet in wild excitement, every good tackle or defensive play was applauded. Now, I’ve been to plenty of other games where that wasn’t the case – where it was actually kind of boring, the fans were apathetic, where there was more booing than cheering. And those games weren’t much fun. But Sept. 6, 2002, was a different story. 61.5K people joined in one really big party.
I think that atmosphere is getting close to what we will experience as we worship in heaven. Oh, I don’t think there will be football teams taking the field (are Calgary players even allowed into heaven??). And I’m quite sure that there won’t be people throwing food and getting drunk and smoking pot. But there will be an immense crowd, focused on the main activity, heavily invested personally, erupting with praise at times while at other times watching in stunned silence. And there will certainly be celebration.
Is that only a vision of the future? Of the next life?? Of worship in heaven???
I want to look at a parable Jesus told in Matt 22. As you are looking that up, let me sketch the context. Jesus is speaking to a group of Pharisees in the temple, during the last week of His life. He has marched triumphantly into Jerusalem, has torn through the temple throwing out the money changers, and is now confronting the Pharisees directly. The parable in chapter 22 is the third of three, each making the same point: the Kingdom of God is being given to those who will receive it rather than to those who reject it. Let me read vs. 1-14.
Understanding the Parable:
It is a fairly straightforward story, but let me fill in a little background to help us understand what Jesus is saying.
o “kingdom of heaven”: What is Jesus talking about? This phrase is exclusive to Matthew – Mark and Luke tend to use the phrase “kingdom of God.” They are synonymous terms, meaning the same thing. The key word in the phrase is not “heaven,” which we tend to think of as a spiritual place that we go to when we die. The key word is Kingdom, which began with the coming of Jesus, which Jesus preached about constantly, and which sort of “officially” got underway with Jesus’ resurrection. Of course we don’t yet experience the Kingdom of God in its fullness, but we are living in it right now. It is to be part of our earthly experience as Christians. We eagerly await its fulfillment at the end of time, but we do also participate in it now. This is significant because I want to underline that what Jesus is talking about is for us today, not just for when we get to “heaven.”