Summary: The great wedding is a great example of how God has extended his grace to included us gentiles, however there are there are some conditions.
This sermon was delivered to St Oswald’s, Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 16th October 2011; St Oswald’s is a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
The readings for today are:
Our Gospel text for today’s sermon is Matthew Chapter 22 verse 1 to 14: “Once more Jesus spoke to the people in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Please join me in a short prayer: Loving Father, open our hearts and our minds to your word this morning, that we may hear with joy your message within today’s parable, and that we get a real sense of your power and glory, and your great love for us, least we deserve it. Amen.
Today’s sermon is entitled the “Great Wedding Invitation” which comes from one of three parables in which Jesus spoke directly to the chief priests and Pharisees who opposed Him. … These parables were recorded just a few days before he was nailed to the cross, so they are important.
And this parable is the most remarkable of all, as Matthew's Gospel was written to the Jewish people in order to prove to them that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah; … and in this parable, we find the whole message of Matthew's Gospel.
Now, I think that of all the social and cultural events people can attend, a wedding can be the happiest and most joyful of all; and it is usually an honour to be invited; because the invitation is a way of expressing that you are an important person to the one who invites you; and that they desire your company in the big event. (Although not always, you may have to be invited to keep the peace, but please run with this definition for now).
In biblical times, as today, an invitation to a wedding was something to be taken seriously, and the wedding feast in Jesus' parable was to be taken even more seriously because it was arranged for the son of a king; and to be invited a very great honour indeed!
Jesus then used this analogy to teach the chief priests and Pharisees a lesson; meaning that such a wedding is a picture of the kingdom of heaven that he Jesus came to extend to those who would worship him. It is obvious therefore the king is God the father; the bridegroom is Jesus himself, the king’s son; and the 'invited guests' are God’s covenant people, the Jews.
This parable then is a good illustration of how Jesus came and presented himself to the Jews as the Messiah; and how they rejected Him; and yet the wedding feast went on regardless, … and extended the invitation to the gentiles, and who were brought in to replace those guests who rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
I hasten to add however, that God has only temporarily excluded the Jewish people for now, as he will still keep the promises He made to them as a nation. Romans 11:25 says the "blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will eventually be saved"
Anyway, the whole Gospel of Matthew is about that invitation to enjoy the full blessings of the kingdom of God, and in this parable, we see the true nature of that invitation. It is an invitation that is to be treated seriously; and this morning, I will share briefly five important points that it makes.