Summary: A sermon based on the Gospel of St Matthew, chapter 22 verses 1-14
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Have you ever been invited to a wedding ceremony? I suppose at one time or another we all have, right? In fact for some of us, it may have been our own wedding. But how many of us have ever been invited by a king, a president, a congressmen, to a wedding? I would venture to say none of us.
But if the president of the United States, if the king or queen of England or someone from our state legislature, or the governor, should any such person invite us to the wedding of their son or daughter, who of us wouldn’t think twice about going; who of us wouldn’t find the time to go, especially if we had a high regard for the one inviting us?
When we look at our text today, Jesus is giving us an interesting parable about a wedding banquet. The son of the king is to be married, and so, as was custom, the king sends out invitations to those whom he knows and respects and loves. Those invitations go out to those whom he deems close or perhaps whom he loves and knows personally. You know when we plan a wedding, we generally don’t send invitations out to random people, but we send them to family and close friends, or perhaps those who we know will buy us the most expensive gifts or the most wanted needs. If we know our next door neighbor will buy us a new dinnerware set, we invite our next door neighbor. If our 5rd cousin from Portugal is going to buy us a new house…we invite our 5th cousin from Portugal. But over and above that we will invite those whom we love.
And the king in this parable does just that, inviting those whom he loves. But those whom he invites don’t seem to care; they go about their business. Not only does the king send out invitations, but he sends out his servants right to the homes of these people, but they refuse to go, they refuse to listen, and some of these folks treat the king’s servants with distain, even murdering them. The king is offering the finest food, his oxen and his fattened calves – much of his wealth, but the people whom he loves, those people who he thought loved him – they refuse to come; they’re too busy, too distracted, too caught up in the passions and in the cares of the world around them.
What does this king do? Out of his anger and on account of their disrespect, he burns their city to the ground; he destroys their world, he destroys everything that they held dear, and he even destroys them. But the king still desires to have guests at the wedding of his son, so he invites everyone else: the poor the crippled, the beggars, the good and the bad.
Is this what you would do? Would you invite random people if you knew that all of your close friends and loved ones refused to come? Perhaps. But what’s the problem with doing this? Well, because you don’t know who you’re gonna get, you might end up with a person or two who don’t quite get what’s going on, who show up for the wrong reasons, just as in the one guest in our parable who came without new wedding coat which, as was custom for the time, everyone invited to a wedding would have to come wearing.
If the person couldn’t afford such a garment, the host, in this case the king, would freely provide a wedding coat to the guest. To not have that wedding coat, or to not approach the wedding host and ask for one, was disrespectful and it would be expected that the unattired guest be asked to leave.
Now Jesus of course in this parable is talking about a little bit of history. First he says that God, or the king, invited people, in this case the Jews or Israel, to the wedding of His Son. Now the invitation is an invitation to faith – and invitation to believe that Jesus Christ, the bridegroom, the son of God, has come to save them from their sin. It’s the exact same invitation that we hear today. When the Gospel is preached today, it is the same message that was proclaimed to the Jews of long ago, the same message which the prophets spoke, calling people to repent and believe in God, trust in His mercy, cling to His promise.
But God’s people the people God delivered from the bondage of Egypt, the same people who crossed the Red Sea, who were given thousands and thousands and thousands of acres of land, who were cared for and protected, these same people refused to believe. Time and time again God called out to them and made covenants with them and blessed them immeasurably, but time and time again they said “no”. They refused to believe, they turned their backs.