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Apr 08, 2018

Wedding Party

Wedding Party

Passage: Matthew 22:1-14

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Parables That Change the World

Keywords: banquet, invitation, parable, party, privileged, rejection, wedding

Summary:

What's your favorite type of party? God loves a good party, particularly when it's a wedding and His Son. This parable of the wedding banquet is one that shows us just how much God wants us to be His Son's Bride and what He has and will do to insure that with as many people as possible.

Detail:

Wedding Party

Matthew 22:1-14

April 8, 2018

Morning Question:  What’s the biggest, most enjoyable celebration you’ve ever been invited to or attended? 

INTRO:  When it comes to great experiences involving food, which of the following would be your favorite:

  1. The office Christmas party?
  2. Your best friend’s destination wedding & banquet (let’s say in Hawaii… with a full luau)?
  3. A family member’s funeral dinner?
  4. All-you-can-eat buffet for 1 at Golden Corral?

Q:  What were the factors that you had to consider when it came to choosing the best?

  • Nature of the EVENT
  • Nature of the RELATIONSHIPS involved
  • Nature of the FOOD!

All of that is actually very important when we come to the parable of Jesus that we’ll be studying today.  It comes to us from Matthew 22:1-14.  Jesus told this parable in the middle of the week we just finished celebrating on Easter last weekend—Holy Week.  Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover when he told this second-of-its-kind parable

It wasn’t really “one-of-a-kind” parable because Jesus had told a parable very similar to it earlier in His ministry. That one is found in Luke 14:16-23.  But it has some important differences which lead me to believe it isn’t the same parable.  Just so we know the difference, we’re going to read both parables today.  They aren’t that long, but the differences are worth taking time to notice and apply personally to our lives here and now. 

Luke 14— (Background lead-in)

When he [Jesus] noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable…” And Jesus goes on to tell the parable about a man who had been invited to an important dinner and thought he deserved to sit at one of the most honored places at the table.  That is until the host asked him politely but publically to please vacate his seat for someone more important than him… and he had to go take a seat in the peanut gallery for the rest of the celebration!  Talk about public humiliation!

            Jesus went on to tell them that, when you throw a dinner party, you shouldn’t invite your friends, relatives and neighbors who can pay you back with an invitation someday.  Rather you should invite people who can’t pay you back.  The result is that you will be “blessed” in the end.  Then Jesus added this revelation: “Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

            This is all the backdrop to this first parable about a banquet feast in Luke 14.  Now let’s read that.

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

So here’s a bright, hungry chap who is already thinking about how great life is going to be with God after the resurrection.  He’s already making plans to be one of those “righteous resurrected” guys, and he certainly won’t make the mistake of choosing some seat of honor like the poor, embarrassed fellow in the parable Jesus just spoke. 

            So Jesus decides to tell another parable that will illustrate something about the people who will actually be at this “feast in the kingdom of God” that this chap is referring to. 

16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 

NOTE:  WHO are we introduced to here?  (“A certain man” and his “many guests.”)

NOTE:  WHAT are they being invited to?  (“A great banquet.  This is no boring office party or Friday night poker party!)   

17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

NOTE:  How many invitations did the guests receive?  (At least 2—the first “Save-the-Date” postcard and the second personal, servant-delivered summons. 

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. And then Jesus uses a little humor to get his listeners laughing a bit.  Here come the excuses. 

The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’  What’s the irony here?  (I just spent a boatload of money buying something I’ve never laid eyes on!  It would be similar to saying, “I just signed a 30-year mortgage with the bank on a $300,000 home I’ve never seen.  I couldn’t be bothered to have looked at it before I bought it but I really have to go take a look at it right NOW!  Please excuse me.” How serious is this guy?)

19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’  The irony?  (How many oxen is “5 yoke”?  TEN!  It’s like saying, “I just bought 10 used BMWs sight unseen at the suggestion of a friend of a friend of a guy I just met this morning.  I really need to see how they run and what sort of condition they are in.  I’m sure you’ll understand!”)  J

20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

Well finally an excuse that begins to make sense!  J  Until you stop to consider that, for a Jew, that first year of marriage was the lightest, least-occupied and least-scheduled year of his life!  He had more disposable time and fewer commitments than he would ever have in life.  This would be akin to saying, “Hey, I just got temporarily laid off from my job for 6 months…with pay! In fact, I can’t go back to work until the 6 months is up or I’ll lose that “unemployment.”  I just can’t possibly fit in your party.  My schedule is way too open…I mean full!)  J

21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 

NOTICE:  These are the same type of person Jesus had just told the social elite around him they should invite to dinner when they throw a party

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”  WHO???  WHO doesn’t get to enjoy the banquet (probably alluding to “the feast in the Kingdom of heaven” that the Pharisee had earlier said he was looking forward to?  (EVERYONE who didn’t really accept either the initial or the second invitation…those who rejected the invitation of their lives!)

Now, let’s read the similar parable in Mt. 22.  As you read it, try to note as many DIFFERENCES in this story from the Luke 14 parable.  Remember, this is at the end of Jesus’ ministry, the last week of his life on earth as a man.

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

“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.’

“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. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 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.”

Do you see why there are quite a few reasons to believe that, though similar on many fronts, these two passages are two different parables? They may be intended to teach many overlapping truths.  But they come at different times in Jesus’ ministry and make some different points. 

So let’s do a side-by-side Comparison of DIFFERENCES:  [You look at the Mt. 22 passage and note differences while I point out certain points in Luke 14.]

Matt. 22                                                 Luke 14                              

King                                                       Certain man

Wedding banquet                                     Great banquet

Servants                                                 One servant

Refusals to attend                                  Ludicrous excuses

Abuse and murder of servants               Polite requests to servant

King destroys their city                         Man invites other guests

Servants sent for “bad & good” guests      Servants sent out twice for more “poor, crippled, blind & lame.” 

Wedding hall filled                                More room still at the table

Man without wedding clothes expelled    Previously invited guests un-invited.

These differences all make sense when you realize that Luke’s parable was spoken at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  It is a far gentler, less violent and less confrontational parable. 

  • In regards to the guests, in Luke they don’t lynch the servants, they just give ridiculous excuses for not attending.
  • In regards to the banquet-giver, in Luke he doesn’t wipe out the ungrateful and idiotic invitees; he just leaves them and goes looking for more receptive candidates.

But in the Matthew 22 parable…

  • the King sends his servants multiple times to the same possible guests and, after they have abused and killed his servants…
  • he sends his army to destroy them and their city!
  • In addition, the little detail about the one guest who tried to crash the party in his pajamas or grubbies doesn’t even appear in the Luke story. But this party-crasher gets essentially thrown into hell.

But on a much lighter note, let’s start with the obvious here.

Today’s parables are all about parties.  WHY do you think that is?  [God wants us to know that life with Him, particularly in heaven, is better than the best events we can imagine on earth.]

Q:  Anyone here not like being invited to a party…of someone famous…at a really swanky hotel… with really good foodall you can eat and drink…for free???  You’d have to be either really sick or really dead not to like some part of that party!

STORY:  I think it was about December of 2004, the month after George W. Bush was reelected 43rd President of the United States, that Sandy & I received a very fancy, very official invitation in the mail.  It came from “The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., 20500.”  

Contained in it was a gold-embossed, nice white invitation on crisp, fancy paper (the kind with the little piece of tissue paper on the inside….  I’ve never quite figured out why they put those in there.  They must think everyone opens official-looking invitations while eating buffalo wings or something!)  J

Anyway, to our surprise, it was a formal invitation to attend one of the several Presidential Inauguration Balls to be held in Washington, D.C. the night of President Bush’s second inauguration.

At first I thought someone was spoofing us.  Then I realized that Joanna had been working as an intern on Congressman George Nethercutt’s campaign that summer as a Government major in college.  George was running against Senator Patty Murray and the President had come to town to campaign for Nethercutt. 

Joanna had called me one day and asked if I was interested in getting cleared to drive one of the vans that would pick up members of the President’s entourage and drive from Fairchild Air Force Base to downtown for a fundraiser function.  Surprisingly, I apparently passed the Secret Service background check and was assigned to drive the Press Corps that was traveling on Airforce 1.  So, apparently the President’s office was rewarding me for not getting in an accident that day or killing the entire group.  

For a few minutes Sandy and I toyed with the idea of taking the President and Laura up on their offer…until we checked the prices of hotels and airfare.  In hindsight, I probably should have spent the kids’ inheritance and splurged to make a memory we’ll probably never be offered the opportunity to make again.

All politics aside (which I admit is hard to do when we’re talking about a Presidential election and Washington, D.C.), why in the world would we have wanted to go to an event like that? 

  • Good food
  • Dancing the night away
  • Chance to dress up formal for once in our lives
  • Honor of being invited
  • We would get to see the President and Laura
  • It was a once-in-a-lifetime, special event.

Let’s talk about the event in this parable.  It was a wedding banquet. Even today, aren’t wedding banquets some of the best food, best memories, best parties, maybe only dancing we do with our friends and families? 

I love doing weddings as a pastor.  I get the best view in the house.  I get to watch the bride as she comes down the isle.  I get to watch her dad cry as she walks him down the isle!  J  I get to see that kiss at close range.  I get to see the nervous whispers between them during the service, the tears in their eyes and their mothers’ eyes. 

But honestly, I really LOVE the dinners and party afterwards.  But American dinner receptions are nothing compared to wedding banquets in Jesus’ day.  Those were the main event.  The wedding actually took place there.  It often lasted for days.  It was THE highlight of every family’s year…and it took more money and planning than any other event of the year.  

Most great events in life take a fair amount of planning. 

  • How long did it take for you to plan for lunch today? (Some of you are doing it right now! J)
  • How about the last trip you took? (Some of you can’t remember…because you didn’t plan!)
  • How about your wedding (if you’ve been married)?
  • Know how long will it take to put a colony on Mars? [45 years from start to finish; 1985-2031 (est).]  cost?   $120 billion (5 times what it cost to put a man on the moon)!

Q:  How long has Jesus been “preparing a place” for us in heaven (Jn. 14:2)?  (2,000 years.)

Q:  How long has the Father been preparing a wedding banquet for His Son?  (Eternity past?)

Q:  How big of a deal would it be in your family if, after you had planned and worked, scraped and spent to put on the best wedding you could, your closest relatives told you at the last minute that they had no intention of coming?  How would you feel? 

            We’re not talking about some average wedding here.  We’re not talking about Princess Dianna’s wedding or Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s upcoming wedding.  We’re talking THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE being eternally joined to His Bride, the church!  This will be THE “wedding” of ALL centuries!  This will be THE most beautiful Bride!  This is an event God the Father has been making preparations for God the Son for more time than we can imagine. 

            And here Jesus is speaking to those whom He wanted to be His Bride—the people of Israel—inviting them to this unimaginable banquet God has prepared for them…and they flat out refuse the invitation. 

Q:  So WHAT does God (the “king”) do?  [He sends more servants and gives more invitations!]

“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.’ 

LOOK at all the King has done!

NOTE:  Isn’t this so like God? Does He ever stop with a single invitation?  NO!  He keeps pursuing, keeps inviting, keeps sending people into our lives who keep delivering His invitation. 

            And how do most people respond? 

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

            WHY are SO many people just plain disinterested?  Why do so many prefer to labor and toil with their work and their property and their stuff when God is inviting us to a divine banquet of unparalleled proportions? 

            But it doesn’t stop there.  Indifference rarely does.  Vs. 6—

The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.

Jesus is clearly alluding to God’s prophets of old whom the rebellious nation of Israel repeatedly rejected, mistreated, hated, cursed, laughed at and even killed.  What he didn’t include in this parable was the killing of the King’s son, the bridegroom.   That he had already told in the preceding chapter 21 in the Parable of the Murderous Tenants who did end up killing the son of the very landowner who had planted, equipped and outfit the entire winery, turned it over to Israel only to have them eventually mistreat and kill the servants He sent to them and eventually His own Son. 

APP:  Here is the sad truth:  every one of US, by our own sinfulness and rebellion against God, are the ones who “seized, mistreated and killed” our own Savior, God’s Only Begotten Son, our eternal Bridegroom.  It is only because Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” that we stand any chance of not being the objects of God the Father’s righteous, right and holy wrath and eternal condemnation. 

            But even here, our culture and so many today shake their fists at God and declare, “What right do YOU have to punish us for abusing your servants and Son?  How dare you, God!” 

Q:        Yet what would we think of a government that let blatant, public abusers of others go free without the slightest punishment?

Q:        What would we think of a judge who allowed his own children to be murdered by violent, unremorseful and unrepentant hooligans and felt no anger, no desire for justice and no need to take any action whatsoever? 

            That is not a judge…let alone a God…that should be respected and certainly not worshiped.  Thankfully, that is not the Only True God that actually exists either! 

The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 

This is precisely what happened in 70 A.D. when Emperor Nero dispatched an army under the generalship of Vespasian to restore order to a rebellious Israel, destroyed the Temple and sacked the city. 

Jesus continues (vs. 8)—

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 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.

            This is what has been the history of the Church—going out into every “street corner” of the world, inviting the uninvited into the greatest Banquet of all time—the wedding of the Lamb of God to His Bride, the church. 

NOTICE:  What are these “servants” to be doing?  “Gathering all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good.” 

God doesn’t care what you call yourself—“good or bad.” 

He doesn’t care what other people call you, “good” or “bad.”

God wants his “wedding hall,” heaven itself, filled with guests.”  God made heaven to be filled with YOU! 

APP: So, are you like the Jews of old and most people throughout human history—disinterested in God’s call to the greatest Party ever, distracted by little trinkets of pleasure like work or “stuff” here on earth when He is offering you the unbounded eternal joys of heaven???

                                                OR

 Will you say “Yes” to his invitation to join Him eternally at his banquet table, His wedding feast in heaven? 

You cannot reject Christ and hope to be embraced by God the Father.

You cannot spurn God’s invitation to join His eternal Party through embracing Jesus and hope to not feel his eternal and just wrath. 

JESUS and the forgiveness he offers and bought on the cross is our ONLY HOPE of escaping the wrath of God that is to come both on this world and on every soul who rejects His divine invitation. 

Won’t YOU respond TODAY with a simple, “YES, JESUS”? 

            If there were any confusion about HOW you get into this divine banquet, vss. 11-13 make it clear:

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.’

            How would Sandy and I have been treated IF we had showed up at one of those Presidential Inaugural Balls in tattered, filthy, stinking, stained urine-stained clothes, having not taken a bath for monthsNOT because we didn’t have the chance to or didn’t have the clothes offered to us or didn’t know exactly what kind of attire was expected…BUT because we hated the Bushes and didn’t want to honor their victory or family or leadership or presidency?  The Secret Service would have rightly escorted us out of the Ballroom. 

            The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 3, after having given a brief list of all the super-religious things he did in life to earn God’s favor through his own effort, sums it all up like this:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 

            Every person in this world who seeks to get into heaven’s banquet with God by their own “righteousness”…by their own morality or effort or supposed “good works” that they think will outweigh their sin…they will never be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.  The invitation is all about Jesus Christ.  The wedding clothes are all about Jesus Christ.  The rejection of the invitation and the servants bringing it are all about Jesus Christ.  With Him we have all we need to be seated at that eternal feast with God himself.  Without him we have only darkness, weeping and separation from God to look forward to. 

            This truth offends our culture.  It offends modern sensibilities.  It offends most people who hear it.  Because the sin of every human heart wants to accuse God of wrong and justify our own thoughts and ideas above His.  How true it still is14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

APP:  Here are 3 questions I want you to spend 5 minutes talking with 4-5 other people about:

  • What does this parable teach you about God?
  • What does this parable tell you about people?
  • Who in this story do you identify most with?
    • A servant of God actually going out, calling people to the Banquet, being rejected, yet still going out again and again and being mistreated and potentially killed for sharing the invitation?
    • One of those people who has heard the invitation and said, “YES! I’m coming!  I accept the invitation to embrace Jesus, His forgiveness of my sin, and put my faith in Him.
    • Someone indifferent about God’s invitation? Distracted by lesser things in life? Just walking away?
    • One who has rejected God’s invitation over and over?
    • One who is trying to get into this heavenly banquet without the right clothing—the righteous “wedding clothes” of Jesus?

Closing APP:

  • Is there an invitation from God I am ignoring or rejecting?
  • Is there something else in this world that is a distraction I’m more interested in than God’s invitations? (Work, person, longing, stuff???)
  • Is there some excuse I’m making for not leaving everything else to accept God’s grand invitation to His eternal wedding feast that will sound terribly stupid, silly and absurd in light of eternity?