Summary: If you have never received Him as your Savior, then you are lost and must be born again. If, however, there has been a time in your life when you bowed as a sinner and called on Jesus by faith, confessed your sins and received Him into your life ...
Opening illustration: There was a much lesser wedding couple of years ago. William and Kate have invited 40 kings and queens, 50 members of the royal family (Not Fergie), 60 governors general and Commonwealth prime-ministers, 200 members of the government, Parliament and diplomatic corps. But also Kate Middleton’s grocer, butcher and postman. Her pub landlord and 300 other friends of the couple.
But everyone who has been invited says how thrilled they are to be invited to the royal wedding and how they’ve been madly hunting down the right clothes for the occasion. Apparently gentlemen are required to wear uniform, morning coat or lounge suit. Ladies are required to wear a hat for the wedding service. Now I dare say if you received a gilded, royal invitation with the Queen’s own stamp you’d RSVP quick smart and you’d go and get the right clothes.
Well it was even simpler at royal weddings in the bible. In bible times, servants would come and take your RSVP personally. And if you wanted to go, the right clothes were provided on the day by the host. And so there really was no excuse for not showing up and not being dressed for the occasion.
Introduction: But the shock of our story is how people respond to the King’s invitation.
The first round of invitations meets with complete indifference. The royal servants are shocked, they go again – “The feast has been prepared, the King and His Prince are personally inviting you, it’s the event of the millennium, the finest of foods, the best of wines, incredible company, and joy and feasting, won’t you come?” No they won’t come. And they are so angry about it, they wound and kill the servants.
You have to be a pretty staunch anti-royalist to ignore an invitation like this. You have to hate the King and His Son very much to kill the inviters don’t you? It’s high treason.
But that is Jesus’ retelling of the Old Testament story. Prophet after prophet invite the people: “Come into the Kingdom, it’s the ultimate royal wedding.” But the invitation is torn up and those who invite are beaten up or killed. And eventually the people are given over to what they want. If they don’t want the King and His Son, that’s their decision. If they don’t want the feast, they don’t get the feast, and judgement falls.
Matthew clearly has his own emphases in the recasting of this parable. He alone adds a second parable, which today reads as a slightly awkward extension referring to the casting out of a guest who did not have wedding clothes. As in preceding parables, there is an emphasis on the end times of human history – when God’s purposes for, and his blessing of, Israel will be revealed. A wedding banquet was one of the images associated with the coming of the Messiah in Jewish hope. Also present is a graphic emphasis on judgement, in the destruction of the city.
What happens at the ultimate wedding of the universe?
1. Invitation to kith and kin (vs. 2-8)
The guest list was drawn up ahead of time, and when the time came for the feast, they were notified that it was ready. But these guests refused to come (they persistently refused, the tense is imperfect). These special guests would be the Israelites who were expecting the Messiah; they claimed to be closely related to the King, God. But when the King prepared the banquet for his Son, they would not come. In the New Testament Christ is often portrayed as the stumbling block--people might have embraced an offer of the kingdom, but they had to determine what to do about Jesus? For help in this section, one need only look at the end of Matthew 23 to get the point: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing" (Matt. 23:37). For many reasons, but one primarily, the Jewish people did not accept Jesus as their Messiah when he came and extended to them the invitation to come to him (Matt. 11:28). They could explain it in so many ways, but it simply was that they did not believe in him.
This would have been the second invitation, since the first invitation was given at the time of the engagement. This second invitation may have announced the date for the wedding and the wedding banquet that was to follow; however, the guests would not come. The king graciously sent more servants for a third invitation to inform them that the dinner had been prepared. The servants made the banquet more attractive, telling them that those who came would dine very well with oxen and cattle that had been fattened for the banquet. Again, the ones who had been invited rejected this third offer, and some of those who had been invited seized the king’s servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. It was not like those who had been invited could not come to the wedding banquet – they would not and showed contempt for the king.