Summary: The story provides a good window through which to view the other events of that day AND this day. It sheds some important light for anyone still trying to figure out what to do with Jesus. The story divides into three acts. Each is about an invitation
Day by Day with Jesus/Last Week Series
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
“For many are invited but few are chosen!” That’s the punch line to Jesus’ parable. Parables aren’t just cute little stories that illustrate a spiritual lesson. Sometimes that’s the case. But other times, Jesus’ parables are more like riddles. They raise more questions than they answer. That may be the case with this one!
We are in the middle of a series of messages leading up to Easter. We are exploring Jesus’ last week. These seven days changed the world. Understanding them can change your life as well.
On Sunday, the crowds cheered Jesus like a king. He wept because he knew what was going to happen—to them. On Monday the tears turn to fire. He curses a barren fig tree and drives the money-changers from the temple. Both events were object lessons of judgment to come. The events of Sunday and Monday were not lost on Jesus’ rivals. Mark’s gospel records that after the temple affair, “The chief priests and the teachers of the law… began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching” (11:18). Tuesday turns into a day of challenge.
Our text comes in the middle of that last Tuesday. As with many of Jesus’ parables, there is more to the story than meets the eye. The story provides a good window through which to view the other events of that day AND this day. It sheds some important light for anyone still trying to figure out what to do with Jesus. The story divides into three acts. Each is about an invitation. In the first, the invitation is offered. In the second, it rejected. In the third, it is neglected.
Act I: the invitation is offered. Ancient wedding customs were much different than the modern version. But they had one thing in common. A wedding was a big, festive event. The concluding wedding feast could last for days. Friends and family came from far and wide. This was the king’s son. To be invited was a big deal. People might boast about being there for years.
Jesus says, “this is what the kingdom of heaven is like.” The Bible often uses the image of a great banquet as a picture of heaven. Isaiah 25 pictures the glorious future of the redeemed like this, “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines” (5-6). The final chapters of the Bible picture what Scriptures terms “the wedding feast of the lamb. “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9).
Here’s the point. Take the happiest, most joyful experiences on earth you can think of. Imagine the best party or banquet you have ever attended, or the finest food you have ever eaten. God has something even better planned. The Bible says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no man has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9). Clearly those who picture heaven as a dull and boring place don’t have clue!
God’s planning a party and you’re invited. You do understand that? God has been inviting you all of your life. He began the first time your grandmother told you a Bible story or your parents took you to church. Even if that never happened, the invitation was extended when friends or relatives invited you to Sunday School or a neighbor asked you to go to a special church event. When the Gideons gave you a Bible or left one for you in a motel room, God was extending an invitation to you. Everywhere and every time, you’ve heard a Christian song on the radio or Bible preacher on television, God has been knocking on the door and tugging at your heart. Every time your conscience heated up or you felt an inner yearning for something more from life, He was calling you to the best time of your life. He has spread everything he has on the table. And you have been invited! Even if you didn’t know it before, you do now!
Act II: The invitation is offered, but rejected. In ancient times, two invitations would be sent. The first would go out well in advance, maybe months ahead of time. Messengers would hand deliver the information. “The king’s son is getting married next fall. The banquet will be right after the harvest. He wants you there.” The potential guests would acknowledge the invitation and declare their intention to come. Then when the time actually arrived for the festivities, a second invite would arrive with the details. “It’s a go. Be there next Friday by sun set.”