Jesus, in the Parable of the Wedding Feast, gives us what is for us the most important invitation we will ever receive, to come to the feast. The invitation is for Eternal Joy, yet many make excuses not to attend. Join us this week as we look at the most important invitation.
Church members and friends can support St. John's By-the-Sea by visiting our website https://www.stjohnsbythesea.com/donate, where a donation can be made by PayPal or credit card, if you prefer that to mailing your donations to the church.
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
Good Morning! There are parables, like the Shrewd Manager, which are confusing without cultural background, and the Prodigal Son, which has many different applications. Today we have what I think is Jesus most complete and clear parable, and I hope to walk thru it and actually not surprise you at all. This Parable includes every single person on earth who has ever lived, is living, or who will ever live, including all of us.
This parable looks back at God’s Plan of Redemption and forward to our Glorious Hope. And one of the hard things this parable shares is a terrifying Prophecy Jesus made, which was fulfilled when Jerusalem and its Temple were destroyed in AD 70, our Sunday School last Spring.
This is another passage which comes from the Tuesday or Wednesday before the Crucifixion, in between his arguments with the Chief Priests and the Pharisees. Jesus tells this parable to put everyone on notice that there is no neutrality with God. We either joyfully worship our creator - enjoy His fellowship, or we reject Him- there is no in-between!
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.
Right away, we know the characters. The King is God the Father. And the Father wants to throw a Great Wedding Banquet for His Son, who represents Jesus.
And here is the Gospel if you didn’t catch it. God the Father is lovingly inviting people to a Wedding Banquet. Not a life of slavery. We are not Allah’s slaves, as Islam teaches, or his busy servants who either keep busy or won’t get to Heaven, as JW and Mormonism teach.
4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘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.”’
We are guests lovingly invited to the wedding feast by the king. In fact, Scripture teaches that the church is Christ’s Bride. God’s call to us may include labor in the short term, wedding preparations are difficult, but ultimately is a call to an Eternal Wedding Feast.
Now, at that time in Israel, wedding feasts could take place for up to 7 days. Just imagine that type of preparation! That’s the standard wedding feast though, not a King’s banquet. Esther begins like this:
Now in the days of Ahasuerus,… who reigned from India to Ethiopia … 3 in the third year of his reign he gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army … and the nobles and governors … were before him, 4 while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for 180 days.
And I don’t think God will be outdone by a Pagan King.
Though the words are few, Christ tries to describe the lavishness and wonder of the feast God has prepared. Oxen and Fatted Calves.
After getting rid of the inedible parts, the average cow can feed a family of 4 for months. The lavishness show the wonders God has for us.
Since there were no refrigerators, invitations went out FAR in advance, asking for an RSVP, which these people sent back. But when the final invitation comes, they reject the king.
Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘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.”’
These people accept the invitation by their king, but then when the time comes to follow, they find other things to do. Despite their rudeness to their king, He had graciously invited them a second time. But when the messengers come, some ignore them to go off to work, and others treat them shamefully and kill them. The messengers, of course, represent the Old Testament prophets, as well as Jesus.
Some thought they were too busy to pay attention to God. We cram our lives with time wasters and distractions, and when we tire of those, we find new ones. Pastor Joke -
A man once told his wife that he never wanted to live in a vegetative state, dependent upon a machine. He said, “If I ever get in that shape, I want you to pull the plug.” So, she got up and unplugged the television.
Others outwardly and publicly despise God, and everything the Bible stands for. After the final servants were killed we read:
The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
This refers to the Destruction of Jerusalem. One eyewitness writes that, while the Temple was ablaze, the Romans plundered it, and countless people were caught by them were slaughtered. There was no pity for age and no regard for rank; children and old men, laymen and priests, all were butchered; whether they cried out for mercy or offered resistance…The Temple was enveloped in fire, and seemed to be boiling over from its base; and the blood seemed more abundant than the flames." The Romans killed 1.1 million rebels in Jerusalem, and 100k taken away into slavery.
It was horrible. And what was their crime? Why were they unworthy? While some openly rejected the messengers God sent, others quietly ignored the call of the king to come and celebrate the Son.
To the King, it is the same. It’s aa hard saying of God’s Word.
Here we have something horrible, but something which shows us that God does keep His Word, and that that generation did not pass away before all of the temple was torn down.
After the city is burned, there is a different invite from the king.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 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.
After the first group was found unworthy, the King’s servants were told to go therefore into the main road and gather all whom they found. In fact, the phrase “Go Therefore” hopefully sounds familiar.
One interesting thing about Jerusalem is that it was on a main road into and out of Egypt and Arabia. It was very dangerous to travel straight across the Mediterranean. If you wanted to travel from Egypt to Europe or Persia, or the reverse, you traveled through Jerusalem. So, the roads the servants were sent to came from everywhere and went everywhere.
And in the fullness of time, there was one common language, Greek, and one common nation, the Roman Empire, that built good roads that went everywhere.
Those commissioned to invite to the great wedding feast invited everyone they found, the good and the bad. Now of course, we know that is relative terms. There is no one who is truly good. But the call is for everyone, and so we should rejoice the Gospel we preach is not a call to live stuffy lives, not having any fun, but it is a call to a Wedding Feast.
We, who once were God’s enemies, until we heard the invitation, are now called to bring this message to a world needing to hear it.