Summary: An invitation has been extended and a response is required.
It’s fascinating to me how after only a few years of being married, a couple can sometimes communicate with a very small number of words. Husbands, if you will, imagine this scene with me. You’ve been invited to a party, and after spending the day working out in the yard, you dash into the house and get cleaned up. You go to your closet, but you suddenly realize that you’re not quite sure about what sort of dress is appropriate for this function. You’re not sure if it’s completely casual, or if it’s a little dressier affair and you need to wear slacks and a sport coat. But you find an outfit that you think will work, and you put in on, and comb your hair, get the car keys and go out to the living room, where your wife is waiting.
She looks at you, and smiles -- but it’s not the sort of smile that says, "Darling, I really love you." It’s more of a sort of a polite smile. She looks at you and says five words to you. Just five. She says, "Is that what you’re wearing?" And you know how to respond. You go back to the bedroom and you change clothes!
Here in Matthew 22, Jesus tells a story that has to do with clothing, and what to wear, and he even talks about wearing the wrong thing. It’s a disturbing story in some ways, and it doesn’t have a happy ending. But it’s a story with several important lessons, so let’s take a look at it together this morning.
I. The Message of the Parable
A. The invitation rejected.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding.”
Now it was unlikely that any of the people Jesus was speaking to had ever actually been to a royal wedding feast, but they were all familiar with wedding feasts in general and had some idea of the importance and magnificence of one that a king would prepare for his own son.
In that day and time, a wedding feast was the highlight of all social life. And a wedding feast that a king prepared for his son would be the “mother of all feasts”. Jesus was picturing the most elaborate celebration possible. This was the ultimate party. If it took place in Boone, it would no doubt have been held at the Broyhill Inn, but it would make everything that’s happened there this weekend look like nothing.
I think it’s significant that Jesus often compared his kingdom to a feast or a banquet. Being a part of God’s kingdom is like going to a party. It’s a festive occasion, a time of fellowship, a time of joy. A lot of people seem to believe that you can’t enjoy yourself if you’re a Christian, that to be a Christian you have to denounce every joy and pleasure that abound in this world. But I think Jesus wanted us to understand that the greatest joys this life has to offer are found in his kingdom.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding…and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ’Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding."’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his business.” (Matthew 22:2-5).
Now in that place and time, there was a two-stage process of being invited to a wedding. The invitation was actually sent out well in advance of the banquet and everyone sent back their RSVP. Then, those who had said "yes" received a courtesy reminder on the day of the banquet itself.
So the king sent out his servants to tell everyone to come join the party, but those who had been invited wouldn’t come. So he tried again, sending out his messengers to say, “Look, it’s going to be a great party -- lots of food and fun!” But they, "We’ve got other things to do. Sorry, can’t make it. We’d love to, but we’re just too busy. You know how it is.”
And you know how the king felt, don’t you? We’ve all had that happen to us at some time or another. You work like a dog getting ready for something. Maybe it’s a party. Maybe it’s a Sunday School lesson. Maybe it’s some get-together for some group in the church. You spend hours and hours getting everything ready. You work hard and you’re excited about what you’ve got planned.