Last Sunday’s Sermon

Due to the service not being recorded, Pastor Bob has provided the text from this past Sunday’s sermon (October 26, 2014). We apologize for not having a recording:


“Go to the Street Corners” (Parable of the Wedding Banquet)
Matthew 22:1-14
Bob Henry

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet (NIV)

22:1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This parable is often disturbing for people. I know my own understanding of this parable has evolved over the years. My introduction to this parable was at camp. I was in grade school and attended my first Adventure Camp. That night around the camp fire we sang the song, “I Cannot Come.” Here are the words:

REFRAIN:
I cannot come.
I cannot come to the banquet,
Don’t trouble me now.
I have married a wife,
I have bought me a cow.
I have fields and commitments
That cost a pretty sum,
Pray, hold me excused,
I cannot come.

[If you think about it…this is a kind of weird camp song. It goes on…]

Verse 1
A certain man held a feast
On his fine estate in town,
He laid a festive table,
And wore a wedding gown.
He sent invitations
To his neighbors far and wide,
But when the meal was ready,
Each of them replied….. (Refrain)

Verse 2
The master rose up in anger,
Called his servants by name, said:
“Go into the town,
Fetch the blind and the lame,
Fetch the peasant and the pauper
For this I have willed,
My banquet must be crowded,
And my table must be filled.” (Refrain)

Verse 3
When all the poor had assembled,
There was still room to spare,
So the master demanded:
“Go search ev’rywhere,
To the highways and the byways
And force them to come in,
My table must be filled before the banquet can begin. (Refrain)

[And then came the most disturbing final verse…]

Verse 4
Now God has written a lesson
For the rest of mankind;
If we’re slow in responding,
He may leave us behind
He’s preparing a banquet for that
Great and glorious day,
When the Lord and Master calls us,
Be certain not to say…. (REFRAIN)

I cannot come.
Music and Lyrics composed and sung by the Medical Mission Sisters, 1966.

So what questions ran through my mind that night at camp? Here are just a few:
• Would I refuse an invite to this party? …from the King?…or how about from the President?
• How could anyone be too busy? It’s a party (Wedding Feasts lasted for weeks, months even for half the year)
• If I don’t respond fast enough – I will be left behind?

And then our camp counselor read us the text from the Bible and I had more questions?
• What if I have the wrong clothing? Could I get kicked out? (This happens in churches still today)
• What if I get thrown out in the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth?

This fun song that we enjoyed singing each night and laughing about – wasn’t that funny. Actually, it was down-right terrifying.

We often think of Jesus’ stories/parables as “kid friendly,” but both last week’s Parable of the Tenants and this week’s are rather disturbing.

The first thing we have to make clear is that this parable is about the coming of the Kingdom of God – and more specifically it is about the Messiah, Jesus.

Look at vs. 1-2:
1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.

In last week’s parable Jesus talked about preparing a huge, lavish, successful vineyard – this week a party good enough for a king – not just any party but a WEDDING FEAST!

This metaphor comes up throughout the scriptures. We know that the Church universal – is the Bride of Christ. This is the banquet for their unifying. This is where Christ and the world meet! This is the Kingdom of God being made visible in front of us.

Matthew was writing with a Jewish bent – so vs. 3 (He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.) probably got their attention. Who was already invited? The Jews! God’s chosen people…”but they refused to come”!

What in the world? They were invited to the biggest event in history – the coming of the Messiah – but they refused!

Look at vs. 4

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

Jesus explains that this is the Big One! “My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered.” As Jews, they would have known this was it, by just this metaphor. Every Jew would have been sitting on the edge of their seats…they would have been thinking, “The invitees would have to go now, right?”

Look at vs. 5

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business.”

Nope. “They paid no attention” – they went to work, to care for their more important business. They were so lost that Jesus gives a throw back to his previous parable with vs. 6-7:

6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

So again the King is rightly upset – and again the text says in the Greek the same exact thing as last week’s parable of the Tenants:

“He will put out of the way entirely their bad nature.”

He will not accept this bad nature – from people (especially church people – good Jews) who know better. Sadly, Jesus has painted a picture of these chosen invitees that says they simply ignored or were caught up in their own stuff.

Take a moment and [PAUSE] here. Ask yourself some important queries:

As the church people of today…
• How am I ignoring God’s invite?
• How am I caught up in my own stuff?
• What busyness takes me away from what God wants to bless me with?

So just like in last week’s parable, God does a switcheroo!

Look at vs. 8-10

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

God opens the door wide again – for both the “GOOD and the BAD”

The Greek says “the bad” are those overcome or full of labors, annoyances and hardships – they are pressed and harassed by their labors.

They are not consumed by busyness or getting ahead. They are simply caught up in their own basic needs. No, they are so full of labors, hardships, annoyances that they are trying to SURVIVE! Some struggle because of physical difficulties i.e. the blind, lame, deaf, lepers, etc… Others are the poor who were not born into the “right” family or privileged situation.

This is an entirely different way of seeing this parable.

“The good” then, in the Greek, are those of good constitution or good nature. Jesus points out that God is replacing the “bad nature” among them with the “good nature” – wherever it is found throughout the land!

So now we can understand better vs. 11-12:

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

“Wedding clothes” are a metaphor.

The people who were gathered were those trying to survive – those who gladly accepted the invite for free food – a couple weeks or months of vacation from the daily grind! This King noticed them for being human – HE SAW THEM. And then there were those who already understood the good nature that God was wanting. These are the guests.

But someone hadn’t been TRANSFORMED by the GRACE of the KING! They stuck out – and he even called them a “friend” — so the King must have known them. They hadn’t accept fully what God was offering. They hadn’t changed their heart to match their actions. They weren’t wearing the “Wedding Clothes” the King was wanting them to wear.

To close, I want to allow N.T. Wright’s words about these final lines of this text to speak to our hearts this morning:

“… nobody really believes that God wants everyone to stay exactly as they are. God loves serial killers and child molesters; God loves ruthless and arrogant businessmen; God loves manipulative mothers who damage their children’s emotions for life. But the point of God’s love is that he wants them to change. He hates what they are doing and the effect it has on everyone else, and on themselves, too. Ultimately, if he is a good God, he cannot allow that sort of behavior, and that sort of person, if they don’t change, to remain forever in the party he’s throwing for his son…The point of the story is that Jesus is telling the truth, the truth that political and religious leaders often like to hide:

The truth that God’s Kingdom is a kingdom in which love and justice and truth and mercy and holiness reign unhindered.

They are the clothes you need to wear for the wedding. And if you refuse to put them on, you are saying you don’t want to stay at the party.                                                                           

                                                          NT Wright (from Matthew for Everyone)

LOVE, JUSTICE, TRUTH, MERCY, HOLINESS – these are the clothes God wants us to wear. And if we refuse to put them on… we are saying we don’t want to stay at the party. I don’t know about you, but I want to stay. I want to be TRANSFORMED! I want for the King to see me beautifully dressed and wanting to be at the Banquet.

Take some time to let this sink in and ask yourself, “Have I been TRANSFORMED by the Grace of the King”?

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