“Come to the Feast”
Matthew 22:4, 14
October 14 & 15, 2017
“ Everything is ready (the Feast is ready); Come to the feast!
Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:4, 14
Since Jesus died for all people, why are not all people saved? Jesus gives us the answer in this parable about “The kingdom of heaven.”
There is something special about being invited to a birthday celebration, a wedding reception dinner or some special meal. God has made us in a special way that eating together helps us to celebrate! Therefore, as Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of heaven, He says, it is like “a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.” (Matthew 22:2)
Those who first heard Jesus’ parable knew all about wedding banquets! The common Jewish ones lasted up to 7 days, with food and drink in abundance! And whereas a common Jew might not be able to provide the best food and wine; a king would be able to provide the best of everything in great abundance! And, obviously, this is what Jesus would have us realize: the Almighty God is The King, who has prepared the Greatest of Feasts for His Son (Jesus) and in His great love and generous grace, ALL are invited!
But Jesus states the UNTHINKABLE in the parable: “those who had been invited… refused to come.” (v.3) This was TERRIBLY RUDE (at the least) and totally UNTHINKABLE considering that it was the King’s invitation that they were refusing! But what DIVINE PATIENCE is shown as the king, he repeats His gracious invitation: “everything is ready; Come to the feast!” (Matthew 22:4) “But they paid no attention and went off – one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them!” (v.5-6)
It’s hard to believe that anyone would treat such a gracious and generous invitation in this way, isn’t it? But it continues to happen today, even among “church people!” “Many are invited” (v.14) through Baptism, Sunday School, worship, confirmation, family and friends sharing the invitation with them; “but few are chosen” because so many eliminate themselves in one way (v.3-7) or in another (v.11-13) – too many “pay no attention” / “refuse to come” as God “feeds” us with the “feast” of His Word every Sunday in worship; the Lord’s Supper; Bible Class every Sunday and throughout the week; personal devotions and prayer; etc. God’s invitation CONTINUES to be: the Feast is ready; come to the feast!” Why do so few take this LAVISH INVITATION seriously?
Maybe part of the answer is given in the 2nd part of Jesus’ parable. Jesus says, “The king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready… Go to the street corners (where the out-casts of society gather!) and invite to the banquet anyone you find… both good and bad…” (v.8-10)
IS IT POSSIBLE that some see themselves as “too good” for such an invitation? [“The church is only for weak minded people?”]
IS IT EQUALLY POSSIBLE that some see themselves as “too bad,” not “good enough?” [The devilish idea that “church is only for good people?”]
Of course, Jesus was referring to the world’s standards when He talked of both good and bad. For no one is “good” – no one is worthy to come to this Feast on their own merit (as the 3rd part of this parable clearly states – we’ll see this in a minute…)
The Gospel message in this parable is that God, the King, INVITES ALL – “the good and the bad” God’s Word clearly assures us the “God would have all to be saved and come to ‘the feast’” (1 Timothy 2:4). And the Gospel message is God’s great patience – repeating His invitation over and over again!
But we dare NEVER take advantage of God’s great patience. God’s Word warns us: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked!” (Galatians 6:7) In this parable: “The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” (v.7) There is a heavy price to pay for those who continue to refuse and abuse (“make light of”) God’s gracious invitation. NOTE that The King’s invitation is SERIOUS BUSINESS!
And Jesus PERSONALIZES this parable for you and for me in this 3rd part of the parable: “when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.” (v.11) These “good and bad” guests of the king were NOT ONLY freely invited, but also FULLY PROVIDED with the finest of “wedding clothes.” It was sheer stubbornness that the man refused to wear what was freely provided for him! That was why he was “speechless” – the man had NO excuse, except for His stubbornness! And so “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.’” (v.13) – a description of hell – the opposite of the Kingdom of heaven!
We MUST have a change of “clothes” – God’s Word clearly tells us that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:4) We can NOT come into God’s presence (the Kingdom of heaven) on our own. Therefore, what Good news that God freely provides us with the “garment of His grace;” as His Word tells us in Isaiah 61 “I delight greatly in the Lord… for He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.” (v.10)
Jesus begins His parable with the grace of God’s ALL INCLUSIVE invitation, “Everything is ready, come to the feast!” But He ends this parable with the GRAVE WARNING: “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” It is NEVER God’s fault that few are chosen – just like it was CERTAINLY NOT the king’s fault in the parable when some refused the invitation as well as the wedding garment. Rather, as Jesus said as He wept over Jerusalem: “How often would I have gathered you together… but you would not!” (Matthew 23:37) Jesus invites ALL, but many a) “refuse to come;” b) “pay no attention” but “go off to their fields and business” – so caught up in the busyness of doing the things of this world; and still others c) refuse Christ’s robe of righteousness (the forgiveness of sins) thinking they can do it “their way.”
Thank God, if you regularly “feast” on God’s Word and receive His Sacraments. Continue to live in His wonderful blessings. For the “many others” who are not yet in the Kingdom – not yet coming into the Kingdom, we have the privilege of sharing God’s invitation: “The Feast is ready, come to the feast. The good and the bad, come and be glad! Greatest and least come to the feast!”
Looking forward to continuing to “feast” with you this week and this next weekend as we gather together for worship and Bible Study.