Summary: Don't toss your invitation to the royal wedding... make the most of it! God's grace is an all-inclusive invitation to all who will receive it.
Title: Not Your Big Redneck Wedding
Thesis: Don’t toss your invitation to the royal wedding… make the most of it!
In January of 2008 a new reality TV program dubbed “My Big Redneck Wedding” aired. Hosted by Tom Arnold, the producers scour the country to find the most “down-home” couples they can find and then document their journey down the aisle and I quote, “as outrageous and over-the-top as it might be.”
The weddings are eccentric affairs with 4-legged best men and celebratory shot-gun salutes and may be officiated by ordained ex-cons... The receptions may feature mud-wrestling contests and mattress surfing… whatever that is. Finger-licking banquets may feature baked beans and roast squirrel.
Unfortunately the TV show, despite its claims, does not celebrate the beauty of country life and country traditions. It is rather a mocking spectacle that demeans and stereotypes people. The program thrives on absurdity and uncouth behavior.
The story Jesus tells us today from our text also features a wedding but it is not your big redneck kind of wedding.
In our story today, the grace of God is likened to an invitation to a wedding banquet.
I. God’s Grace is an extravagant demonstration of largesse. 22:1-3
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a King who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused… Matthew 22:1-3
In Luke 14 Jesus had just been teaching about wedding feasts and banquets and had concluded by saying, “When you give a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives or your rich neighbors; if you do they will invite you back so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14
That comment prompted one of his listeners to say, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the Kingdom of God.” Luke 14:15
This comment about the feast in the Kingdom of God immediately brings to mind the passage in Revelation 19 about what we refer to as the Marriage Feast of the Lamb when Jesus receives his bride, the Church. That imagery is captured in religious artwork, I think most beautifully in the painting that is obviously in a celestial setting of a huge banquet table set in preparation for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It is a beautifully set with on a table that stretches as far as the eye can see with high-back chairs on either side as far as the eye can see.
This story may be a simple parable but the implication is that God, who is not willing that any should perish but that everyone should come to repentance, has invited everyone to come.
Generally, when a banquet is being planned and particularly so for a wedding reception, the host has a budget that allows for X number of guests and as they make their way in preparing a guest list decisions have to be made. Some people are included and others are not. Parents may be invited but the children are not. Aunt Daisy is invited but not her loser sixth husband. More often than not, I am amused by the conversations people have with advice columnists about who they must invite and whom they can justifiably exclude.
Apparently the banquet in our story is a banquet to die for. And getting an invitation was like being invited to the Royal Wedding.
On April 29, 2011 the world watched as Prince William and Catherine Middleton were married at Westminster Abbey in London. According to the Wiki people the Queen of England sent out three sets of guest lists for the occasion:
1. 1,900 people were invited to attend the ceremony in the Abbey.
2. 600 people were invited to attend a reception luncheon at Buckingham Palace.
3. 300 people were invited to attend a dinner that evening hosted by the Prince of Wales.
And the “festivus for the rest-of-us” took place in some 5,000 street parties scattered throughout the United Kingdom. I assume these were akin to loosely organized block parties for commoners throughout the realm.
Despite the elaborate nature of the Royal Wedding it was not considered a state affair so a lot more people were invited that were just friends of the couple than would normally have been permitted. But at any rate… an invitation to the Royal Wedding was an invitation to die for. To have been included on the guest list was huge and to be excluded was to be put in your place.