TEXT: MATTHEW 22:1-14
YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS CELEBRATION!
COME TO GOD’S WEDDING FEAST!
Preached by Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Dear invited guests of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ:
You don’t want to miss this grand celebration! It is the King’s gathering and all the work is done! Everything is in readiness for you! It is all free to you! He wants you there! Just come!

This parable is about the kingdom of heaven. In Revelation heaven is called the “marriage of the Lamb” (19:7). “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (19:9). Therefore blessed are you! The King says to you, “come to the wedding feast of my Son.”

Jesus gives two emphatic warnings in this parable that separate it from just an earthly celebration. The first warning is that some of the servants extending His gracious invitation were killed! How out of place is that? A normal wedding invitation may be ignored or snubbed or met with all manner of excuses. But kill the messenger – “no”. Jesus’ second warning is the improperly dressed guest being bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness. There is no outer darkness surrounding an ordinary wedding. Even a rude guest would not be bound hand and foot. Jesus uses this parable to teach that hell is no parable. His words are for our ears as well as the religious leaders to whom He spoke during holy week.
TEXT: MATTHEW 22:1-14
YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS CELEBRATION!
COME TO GOD’S WEDDING FEAST!
Preached by Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Dear invited guests of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ:
You don’t want to miss this grand celebration! It is the King’s gathering and all the work is done! Everything is in readiness for you! It is all free to you! He wants you there! Just come!

This parable is about the kingdom of heaven. In Revelation heaven is called the “marriage of the Lamb” (19:7). “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (19:9). Therefore blessed are you! The King says to you, “come to the wedding feast of my Son.”

Jesus gives two emphatic warnings in this parable that separate it from just an earthly celebration. The first warning is that some of the servants extending His gracious invitation were killed! How out of place is that? A normal wedding invitation may be ignored or snubbed or met with all manner of excuses. But kill the messenger – “no”. Jesus’ second warning is the improperly dressed guest being bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness. There is no outer darkness surrounding an ordinary wedding. Even a rude guest would not be bound hand and foot. Jesus uses this parable to teach that hell is no parable. His words are for our ears as well as the religious leaders to whom He spoke during holy week.

As Jesus’ words fall on your ears today, notice that He did not say “the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a wedding feast”. Rather He said, “the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. You see, the kingdom of heaven is not found in spiritual abstractions. It is found in God the King, and in the Son of God in the flesh.

The King first gave a general invitation and then a second invitation when the time was right. He sent his servants to call (now) those who were invited (previously). Their response is clear – they would not come. The Greek is imperfect and implies continuing rejection. “They were not wanting to come!” Their response is heavy with accusation of our own natural inclination. They were not wanting to come!

But the King wants them to come! He desires them to have the joy of His eternal feast! He seeks a rebellious people with repeated invitations. Ever the gracious host, the King sends out servants to explain further how thoroughly the preparations have been made. His description echoes Isaiah’s feast - rich food full of marrow - aged wine well refined - served on the Mountain of the Lord. ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’

Who could say no? Well anyone, really if they were not wanting to come. In fact, if someone is not wanting to come any old excuse will do. So they paid no attention and went off, one to watch the Packers and another to sleep in and another to clean house and another to visit a friend and another to balance the check book and another to catch up on some studies and another to meditate on their feelings and another to commune with nature. Or, as Jesus expressed it one went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. You see that’s ultimately what’s at stake when God’s invitation is ignored. Since it is an invitation to life and salvation, rejection of it is death dealing.

Even good things, work and business, can be used by our hearts to reject God’s invitation. Normal occupations become sinister when they are preoccupations. We can easily make idols of the work of our hands and the activities of our lives. We can be so busy making a living and enjoying earthly things that we fail to receive God’s new life in Christ.

The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Here ends the first half of Jesus’ parable. Those who had been called of old and invited by God’s prophets, threw the Son out of the vineyard and killed Him. As a result they were themselves destroyed. Jerusalem itself was burned in 70AD by Rome. Dear Christians, it is human pride to think God’s invitation will never end. Ignore it, neglect it, and it can be taken away.

In preaching on this text Dr. Martin Luther said that the world does not give a rip about God’s word – they snore away at the sermon – amble off to the marketplace - the ale houses - the amusement park. He said that man is too cocksure with other interests to attend the banquet. He called attention to Greece that once had God’s Word but despised it and was then filled with the devil’s rubbish. Today we might look to modern day Germany and France and England. Once those nations had millions of Christians confessing the faith! Now they are largely secular and pagan and scornful of the cross, whereby the Son of God takes us as His Bride. Statistics in our nation indicate a similar death-ward drift.

Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 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. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

God is no respecter of persons. In the community of Qumran (revealed in the Dead Sea scrolls) the flawed were not allowed to gather in worship, the blind, the dumb, the crippled. But the invitation of the King is to all, outwardly good or bad - failures – the outcast – the downcast – the unimpressive. People are not invited because of who they are but because of who the King is – gracious and forgiving! The servants extend the King’s invitation and the wedding hall is packed with guests. A motley crew is brought in from the highways and byways and the King takes care of everything.

As goes the custom of such weddings in Jesus’ time, the King even gives each guest a wedding garment to wear - no expense is spared. Whoever receives His invitation and comes to the wedding receives clothing, food and drink.

Yet, when the King surveys the wedding hall, one man has refused the wedding garment. This is not a matter of poverty. The King generously furnishes clothing for all. Rather this guest has said, “no thanks - I’ll do it my way – I’ll clothe myself”. And that proves to be a damning choice. No dress of self-chosen or fabricated works can stand in God’s eternal presence. God has a chilling word for the one who approaches everlasting life with the motto, “I’ll do it my way”. They may talk a good line here, but not there. There they are silenced!

The King said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 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.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Dear friends, the King is still inviting! He has called me here to continue saying, “Come to the wedding feast of the Son!” Young or old, student or teacher, financially challenged or financially blessed, out going or reserved, successful or struggling, the greatest and the least, sinners all, come to the feast! The King wants you! Everything is ready. There is nothing for you to do but receive His provision.

He wants you at the Son’s wedding feast not just as a guest, but as the very Bride of Christ Himself. United to Him you are without spot or stain or wrinkle or any other blemish. United to Him you are virgin-pure. Dear beautiful Bride of the Bridegroom Jesus Christ – you do not want to miss this grand celebration. You do not want your family or friends to miss this eternal celebration either, so invite everyone you know. The one who prepares it for you went under the punishment of outer darkness and gnashing of teeth to give you a wedding garment washed white in His blood. He was uncovered and disrobed on Calvary bearing all your shame and all our sins of spurning His invitation, of not wanting to come. Today He offers you a foretaste of that eternal feast. By His Word, the bread is so rich it bears with it the body of the Son of God. The wine is so well-refined that in, with and under it is the blood of the Lamb –for you!

When the day of salvation began, you were a nobody – just like me - out there somewhere, a commoner on the byways. But now the King has given you His Name, dripping wet with His grace! Now His clothing covers you! Now His food fills you!

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well-refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples…he will swallow up death forever;

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice, Amen.