+ 19th Sunday after Pentecost – October 11, 2020 +
Series A: Isaiah 25:6-9; Philippians 4:4-13; Matthew 22:1-14
Beautiful Savior Lutheran
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Ever noticed that many of Jesus’s parables revolve around a feast? The father throws his prodigal son a feast. The woman finds her lost coin and invites the whole neighborhood to a block party. The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.
It’s no accident Jesus chose a wedding feast as the setting for his parable in Matthew 22. God is like that uncle, friend, or neighbor; you know one. They’re always throwing parties – not for pride or popularity – no, simply for the sheer joy of hosting and giving a feast. God loves a feast. God loves nothing more than when his people are joyfully eating his food, drinking his wine, receiving his gifts. God gave Adam and Eve the tree of life. Israel the Passover, manna, and a meal on Mt. Sinai. Jesus fed the 5,000, gave the Lord’s Supper, and promises the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Yes, God loves a feast. As we chew on Jesus’s parable of the wedding feast today, these divine dinner parties set the table in our minds. The wedding feast is God’s invitation, to believe, to sink the teeth of faith into his salvation, to drink the wine of redemption, to digest divine grace in Jesus, the Bridegroom, the Messiah, and Master Chef of our salvation.
Once again Jesus dishes up a parable for the religious authorities. “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.
Quite the contrast isn’t it. On the one hand, a generous king, a festive occasion and a gracious invitation to the wedding feast. On the other, rejection. No lame excuses. No last-minute plans. Just flat out refusal. They would not come. They rejected the king’s generosity, and deeply insulted and dishonored the king and his son.
But this king is gracious and joyful; he loves a feast, and he wants everyone to be as joyful as he is. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “I have prepared my dinner. The meat’s on the grill. Drinks are poured. Table’s set. Everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’
Once again the guests reveal that they don’t care for the king, his son, or his feast. This time, they violently, dishonorably, and shamefully refuse the king’s invitation. They seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. Actions like this, toward the king, have consequences. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
Jesus’s words are a stark warning to the religious leaders: when you reject the feast of salvation that God gives in his Son Jesus, all that remains is judgment. Outside of the wedding feast there is no life. Of course, it need not be that way. God desires mercy, not judgment. Everything is given in Jesus. The Bridegroom is here. Salvation is done. And yet, like the shameful wedding guests in this parable, the religious authorities violently refuse and dishonor God and His Christ.
There’s a warning here for us too. Do not neglect Christ and his gifts. You have a seat at the wedding feast. You’re his honored guest. The feast of salvation is yours. Purchased and won by the sacrifice of Jesus our bridegroom; given for you. There’s a seat at the table with your name on it written in the blood of the Lamb. As Hebrews says, therefore, let us not neglect so great a salvation.
Now you would think the king would call off the party at this point. No one RSVPed. Toss the food. Dump the wine. Send the servants home. But no. Not this king. This king loves a feast. The wedding hall must be full! ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
Not worthy? How is one worthy to attend the wedding feast? Not to worry. Jesus explains as he goes on. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good.
Stop right there. Did you hear that? Both bad and good. The king does not invite the good and snub the bad. He invites everyone. God loves a feast. In the feast of salvation there are resumes, no scorekeeping, no Spanish inquisition on our behavior. Christ dies for the good, the bad, and the ugly. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
To be unworthy in Jesus’ parable is to dishonor and reject the king and the wedding feast for his son. Like the first guests did. Worthiness to attend the wedding feast, however, isn’t found in the hands of the guests, but in the gracious invitation of the king. Worthiness to the wedding feast of salvation isn’t found within ourselves, but in the King’s grace in his Son Jesus. If we’re looking for a worthiness within, or apart from Christ, we won’t find it. Jesus makes you worthy.
Jesus’ parable isn’t over yet. The king surveys the party. But there’s a problem. He saw man without a wedding garment. “Hey buddy. “how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ His response? Not speechless, like he was embarrassed. No. He was silent. He probably could have said anything. Something. And the king would’ve been gracious. But instead, silence.
Jesus’s ends on a rather grim note. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It sounds harsh. But notice when this man is kicked out of the wedding feast. Not before he’s in the hall, but after. He’s there. He’s in. Why is he kicked out? Just like the previous guests dishonored and shamed the king and his son by refusing the invitation, this man refused to wear the appropriate wedding garments. He deliberately dishonored the king and his son. Refusal. Rejection. The man is thrown out of the wedding feast because he refuses what the king has prepared, just as the pharisees refuse and reject the salvation God had prepared in Jesus.
This final scene is a picture of judgment. Outer darkness. Weeping and gnashing of teeth. These are words not of pain, but sorrow and anger towards the king, towards God himself because those who find themselves outside the wedding feast loved their own righteousness more than the gifts of God. Remember, God loves a feast. He wants his wedding hall fill. And yet, sadly, some refuse. “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Yet, even in a parable that ends with a gut bomb of judgment, God’s grace is bigger. Remember, God loves a feast. He loves the feast because he loves to give to you his goodness, grace, and gifts. God our gracious King sent his Son to give you a seat at the great marriage supper of the Lamb. God sent his Son, the bridegroom, to live for you. Lay down his life for you. Rise from the dead for you. Feed you in his body and blood. Clothe you the holy baptismal garments of his righteousness. To seat you at his banqueting table. Today. Tomorrow. And forever.
Come, the wedding feast is prepared. Everything is ready.
In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.