Summary: Many people struggle with the concept of how righteous acts in a believer’s life will be used as proof that a believer accepted God’s gracious free gift of salvation. This Sermon deals with this issue.
Matthew 22: 1-14
A woman and her young daughter were attending the wedding of a relative. This was the first time the little girl had ever seen a wedding ceremony. She was in awe by the pomp and beauty of everything; the music, the formal atmosphere, the decorations, the bride and groom and their attendants in fine gowns and tuxes. At one point during the ceremony the little girl leaned over to her mother and whispered: “Mommy, mommy?”
“What dear,” her mother replied.
"Why is the bride dressed in white?"
The mother thought about that for moment and struggled to come up with a simple explanation her daughter would understand. Finally, she smiled and said to her daughter, "The bride wears white, because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.”
The little girl thought about this for a moment, and then said, "So why’s the groom wearing black?"
Weddings; some know them well and others know them too well. They know them too well because marriages are entered into like they are the fad of the day and then thrown away like the worn out fashions of yesterday.
But the wedding banquet mentioned in our scripture is different. It’s different because it’s located in one of Jesus’ parables and Jesus’ parables are not what they seem to be on the surface. There is a hidden meaning in this wedding story that today we will seek to understand.
The first clue we are given to help us understand this parable comes when Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” What Jesus meant by saying this is “this is how the kingdom operates and this is what it looks like.”
Well, what is the kingdom of heaven? The kingdom of heaven is what Jesus talked more about that anything. When Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven it was usually accompanied with an announcement of judgment and a call for people to turn their lives to God and be saved from that judgment. It is the saving significance of being a part of the kingdom that Jesus emphasizes the most.
Secondly when Jesus announces the kingdom of heaven he wasn’t just talking about a place where all the saved will be one fine day, but a reality that was already present, and could be seen and experienced in His own person and in His ministries. For Jesus and His followers the kingdom of heaven had landed in Jesus and was now in the process of taking over the world. In Jesus the ultimate victory over the world is guaranteed.
The kingdom comes to view in the preaching of the good news concerning Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The kingdom is seen when the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and prisoner is set free. The kingdom is more than a place, and more than just a people; it is the reign and power of God that storms into the lives of people who are lost, hurting, and caught in sin and sets them free.
Let’s get one thing straight. The church is not the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven can become the reality the church experiences only if it lives under the reign of God and in the power of God.
We hear first in the parable that a king has prepared a wedding banquet for His son. The king in this parable is God and the Son is Jesus. For most of us this is obvious. This hints at how the kingdom of heaven on earth has come to be and the final goal of its existence.
In verse three it says the king sent his messengers with invitations. Throughout biblical history God’s messengers have been the prophets and disciples who took forth God’s gracious invitation. We shouldn’t think those messengers are long gone. Today every member of God’s church is called to be a messenger who proclaims God’s invitation or God’s Good News.
What is this invitation? It’s the same invitation that Jesus proclaimed. It is the announcement of God’s judgments and the call for people to turn their lives around from wrong ways of living and thinking. They are to turn to God’s new life and way for them established in the miraculous life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In this way they can receive forgiveness for their sins and find supernatural help from God. Ultimately it’s an invitation to enter the kingdom of heaven. It’s an invitation to the banquet.
Originally Jesus and the disciples took this message only to the nation of Israel. It is this same nation that Jesus refers to in this parable. They are the ones who initially refused to accept the invitation. Jesus states in some degree why they refused. They were overcome by worldly beliefs, concerns, and pursuits.