Summary: our Christian hope is grounded in the faithfulness of God to his promises
The Christian Hope
The Invitation to Hope ¡V Matthew 221-14
Illustration: Wedding Invitation.
Wedding invitations are quite simple. You are invited to either attend or to send your apologies for non-attendance. However let me read you another wedding invitation ¡V Read Matthew 221-14. The wedding invitation which God sends out is a little more complicated and it is far more important. The wedding invitation is sent to everyone ¡V no one is excluded. The striking thing is that if you are unable to attend this wedding no excuse will be accepted and there will never be another opportunity to attend this wedding. In fact if you are unable to attend you have had it for all eternity.
In this parable Jesus speaks about a wedding banquet and an invitation to attend. The very fact that the king had invited these people was an honour but it was also a command. The prospective guests had been contacted in advance and now that everything was ready their presence was requested. But these guests persistently refuse to attend. The king very graciously repeats the invitation and he even describes the greatness of the feast as an incentive for them to attend. But once again they refuse and their excuses are mundane and selfish. These people had become slaves to their money, to their work and to their families. They had relegated the king and their refusal was a slight to him. Not only do they refuse to attend the banquet but they compound their sin with violence towards the messengers. Well like any king he will not sit back and allow his ambassadors and messengers to be treated so ¡V he sends in the army and they destroy the cities. Their material wealth did not save them on the day of the visitation of the king¡¦s men.
The king then sends the messengers out to the street corners and all sorts of people are now invited to attend the banquet. The king not only issues invitations he also provides marriage garments for these people. However one man amongst them is found without the right attire. Whether one is good or bad there is proper attire for attending a wedding. The speechlessness of the man in the face of the question leads to only one conclusion he is guilty as charged. He had been invited and wedding garments had been provided but he decided, for whatever reason, he did not need them and so he entered the feast in his own old clothes. Well the result is that he is ejected for all eternity. Jesus finishes the parable with a chilling statement: many are invited but few are chosen.
You see being invited is not enough ¡V you must also put on the wedding garments provided. You are invited to hope. You are invited to the wedding and everything has been prepared ¡V now are you going to refuse or are you going to come? And if you come are you going to put on the wedding attire?
The Promise of Hope ¡V John 141-6
Okay you have been invited but what¡¦s the guarantee this wedding is going to happen. After all, plenty of weddings have been cancelled. Many a bride or groom has been left at the altar. Well here is the Promise of Hope ¡V Read John 141-6. Jesus begins by telling his disciples, and us, not to be troubled in our hearts but to trust in him. It is both a statement to be believed and a command to be obeyed. In verse 2 he speaks of a divine provision for them and us. Jesus never speculated about the future or about a future life. He had no need to, he knew from before the beginning of time all of history. He spoke of eternity with familiarity because he was and is the very author of eternity. He tells the disciples he will go via the road of death to prepare a place for them. He speaks of his father¡¦s house which has many rooms ¡V like an oriental home where sons and daughters have apartments underneath their parents. He would depart and make ready this place so that one day he would come and take them to be with him. Jesus took personal responsibility for bringing them, and us, into his father¡¦s house. Jesus left by the road of death but he would return by the road of life and as he says in verse 19 of the same chapter ¡¥because I live you also will live.¡¦ It is these statements of Christ which lead Thomas to ask the way to this place where Jesus is going. Thomas, like many, cries in despair ¡V what way? Then we have some of the most profound and important words ever spoken by Jesus ¡V verse 6.