Summary: God is planning a party that will last for eternity. You are invited. You have been sent an invitation but it says RSVP Spiritual Attire Required.
Hugh Downs of 20/20 fame tells the story of attending a function in Washington with his wife. When the time came for them to return home they found that their flight had been cancelled due to bad weather. Downs called the front desk and learned that they could catch a train but it left in 45 minutes. Mrs. Downs was showering and new nothing of the new plans. To save time Hugh packed all their belongings and called for a bellhop and them rushed over to the train station.
A few minutes later, Mrs. Downs stepped out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. “Dear,” she asked, “Would you hand me my green dress?”
We’re not told how Hugh solved the problem, but it reminds me of our lesson this morning as we continue our series, “Principles from Parables.” Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.” It was a proud moment for the king. People from everywhere were invited. Who would ever refuse such an invitation?
Have you ever been invited to a party of some sort and you found four letters: RSVP? The letters are an abbreviation for a French term, respondez sil vou plait. It means please reply. Whoever invited you to the special event doesn’t want you to just show up. Before you come they want you to let them know you are coming. After all, there is food and beverages to buy and preparations to make. They need to know you are coming.
I hear that sometimes those invitations will say “formal attire required. That means the folks inviting you want you to come dressed to the nines. They want you in your best clothes or even better. That means it is time for ladies in evening gowns and men to dress in a tux.
Now, if you let them know you are coming and you put on the fancy clothes, you can go to the party.
Well, God is planning a little shindig and He is inviting everyone on the planet to come. The address where the party will take place is heaven. And, if you look at the bottom of the invitation you find the letters RSVP. But, it also says something else, not formal attire, but spiritual attire is required. If you want to go to the greatest party in history, God’s party, you must RSVP and put on your spiritual clothes now, the party could start at any time.
In this parable Jesus is once again telling his listeners what they would be turning their backs on. The king in the parable is God. In Jesus’ time people were invited to a party, but they weren’t given an exact time it would begin. When all the preparations were done, the host would sent out his servants to summon the guests. This tradition follows the parable. God was summoning the Jews to a feast in honor of his Son. When everything was ready God sent for the guests and they refused to come. God tried again, and again he was refused.
What does the king do? He sends out servants to bring new people to the party. Everyone was invited. That means God is inviting the likes of us to the party. But, when the king looked out over the crowd he saw a man who wasn’t wearing wedding attire. When the king asked the man why he wasn’t dressed properly the man was speechless. When God confronts us for our wrongdoing, what will we say? The man is then thrown into the darkness.
RSVP. Everyone is invited. It reminds me of a Charles Wesley hymn we don’t sing much anymore, “Come Sinners to the Gospel Feast. Listen to these words. “Come, sinners, to the gospel feast; let every soul be Jesus’ guest. Ye need not one be left behind, for God hath bid all humankind. Sent by my Lord, on you I call; the invitation is to all. Come, all the world! Come sinner, thou! All things in Christ are ready now. Come, all ye souls by sin oppressed, ye restless wanders after rest; ye poor, and maimed and halt, and blind, in Christ a hearty welcome find. My message as from God receive; you all may come to Christ and live. O let his love your hearts constrain, nor suffer him to die in vain. This is the time, no more delay! This is the Lord’s accepted day. Come thou, this moment, at his call, and love for him who died for all.
I love those words. Think about them for a minute. “Let every soul be Jesus’ guest. God has bid all humankind.” Charles Wesley painted a beautiful picture with those words. I think that when we get to God’s party, there wont be any classes of people. There won’t be any race or age or gender or denominations. There will only be sinners who have responded to God’s invitation. Clearly, not everyone will respond, but the invitation is open to all.