[Pentecost 20]  Matthew 22:1-14  J.D.Roekle

 

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  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, both good and bad, 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  'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' 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.”

 

DRESS CODE FOR LIFE

 

Dear Fellow Guests of our Heavenly King,

          Would you agree that one of the least popular things at a school is the dress code?  The teachers and school administrators don’t like to have to deal with it.  Students often times think it is too restrictive.  Parents may struggle sometimes to find clothes that will fit into the dress code.  But it is a necessary thing, isn’t it?!  Without a dress code, it would be a free for all, and that wouldn’t be good. 

There was a dress code at the wedding in the parable that Jesus told.  In fact, it came to light because a man showed up at the wedding celebration without the proper clothes on. 

You see, in Bible times, it was customary for royalty or the wealthy who were hosting a wedding celebration, to provide their guests with special garments for the wedding.  In fact, since the wedding feasts usually lasted several days, the host would supply the guests with several robes, so that they could change garments as the feast wore on.  In doing this, the host was honoring his guests.  At the same time, the wearing of the garments was meant to honor the host as well.

There was a man in attendance at the wedding in the parable that didn’t have those special clothes on.  He didn’t follow the dress code.  With this parable, Jesus is teaching us a very valuable lesson.  In order for anyone to be a part of the kingdom of God, we need to follow the dress code.  The dress code for life.  We need to wear the clothes that Jesus alone can provide. 

 

Jesus paints a marvelous picture of a wedding feast here.  All the preparations are made.  The feast is ready!  He describes the feast, saying “Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner:  My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready.” 

The king voices the fact that he has spared no expense in preparing for this joyous occasion.  The guests can expect a grand feast. 

And this feast comes at no expense to guests.  All is provided for them.  And everything is READY.  There is nothing the guests must do in order to enjoy the banquet.  It is all prepared for them.  And again, they don’t even have to worry about what they need to wear, since he provides them with even that!  Since all is done for them and provided for them, all they need to do is come and enjoy it!   

As we take a closer look at this parable, it does not take us long to realize who the king is – it is God the Father.  God the Father has prepared a banquet of blessings in his kingdom.    His blessings include peace, security, and eternal well-being.  He provides the greatest and happiest of feasts!

And why does God provide such a feast?  On account of his Son, Jesus Christ, in whose honor he has prepared the feast.  The heavenly Father has spared no expense in providing this feast.  In order to make the feast possible God made the greatest sacrifice ever.  He sacrificed the life of his Son, Jesus, so that sinners like us would have the blessings of forgiveness, new life and salvation.

And our God comes to us with his special invitation.  This is very important for us to keep in mind:  We do not solicit the Lord’s invitation; we don’t go out looking for it.  The Lord’s comes to US and tells us that he wants us to be a part of his kingdom.  Now that is GRACE:  God’s loving and saving invitation to utterly sinful human beings. 

And that marvelous invitation applies to us NOW.  While the culmination of the invitation will be in heaven, we also have an invitation to feast on the Lord’s blessings now!  The feast is now!  The hymn writer declares this 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.

 Right now we can have peace, security, happiness, and the sure hope of eternal bliss in heaven.  Right now we can join in on the celebration!  The blessings are all there for your enjoyment.  Open up your Bible and enjoy them.  Listen to it being proclaimed to you here at church.  Enjoy the regular supper of Christ’s body and blood for your forgiveness!  The Lord doesn’t hold back.  He truly gives us his matchless grace and blessings. 

           Yes, the Lord extends a gracious invitation.  To enjoy his rich feast of blessings.  And he extends it to ALL people.  Yet, when the Lord extends this invitation, how is it received? 

Jesus’ parable gives us an answer.  When the king sent out invitations to his son’s marriage banquet, the initial reaction of his guests was that they refused to come.  As the king sent out more servants to tell his invited guests what he has prepared, the reaction was the same, they refused to come! 

Some reacted indifferently.  They felt their regular matters of farming and business were more important.   Others who were invited, acted angrily.  They killed the king’s servants.  The reactions varied, but the end result was the same:  they spurned the invitation. 

                   Those are indeed some of the same reactions that people have upon hearing the Lord’s Gospel invitation.  Many people are indifferent or apathetic to the Gospel’s call.  It doesn’t seem to faze them at all, especially when they think about all the worldly concerns in their lives.  To them, the Gospel seems of no importance, next to making money and accumulated possessions and maintaining physical health.  To them, the Gospel has no value.

Other people are clearly angry at the Gospel’s call.  It seems ironic that such a wonderful feast could cause such outrage, and yet that’s precisely what happens.  The Gospel divides.  Nobody likes to be told they are helpless.  But the Gospel reminds us that we need to rely solely on Jesus Christ our Savior.  That angers the sinful nature, and consequently many people become enemies of the Gospel.  They refuse to listen to the Gospel message, and even more than that, they persecute all those who proclaim the Good News.  Just look at how this message angered the enemies of Jesus when he walked the earth.  There were many times they attempted to kill him, and in the end, they did.  The Jewish leaders provoked the crowd to shout “Crucify him!”…which they did. 

          May we be warned that these attitudes are out there!  Yes, there is angry opposition to the Lord’s gracious invitation into his kingdom.  Be continually prepared to combat all those who persecute you on account of what you believe.  But don’t let that keep you from inviting others to the feast.  Of speaking the Gospel to so many who need it. 

Be alert in your own lives, to the feeling of indifference to the Gospel.  Don’t be so caught up in other things that you forget to feast on the Lord’s blessings.  Remember how good you’ve got it that you can feast on them regularly here, as you hear the Word and come to the Lord’s Table.  Remember to feast on the Lord’s salvation every day of your life, as you meditate on his gracious Gospel invitation. 

                    And remember, how to dress for the occasion!  Remember the dress code!    In our text, we again see a man who didn’t have the right clothes on for the banquet.  Instead of wearing the special wedding clothes provided by the king, he tried to get away with wearing his own clothes.

          And you see the consequences of this man’s actions at the wedding banquet?  “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.’” 

Whoever isn’t dressed properly for the Lord’s banquet of salvation, will properly suffer the same consequences.  Anyone trying to wear their own clothes to the Lord’s banquet, won’t be admitted.  In other words, any persons who think they are capable of earning the Lord’s favor themselves will spend an eternity in hell.  

We need to be aware of such an attitude!  When talking about being in God’s kingdom, we need to realize that we are there not because we come to church; not because we pray; not because we are striving to be good spouses, good parents, or good citizens. 

We are part of God’s kingdom; we are feasting on his salvation, because we are dressed right… we are honoring the dress code!  We are wearing the only clothes that can give us life, now and always!   These clothes didn’t come from our own closets or from our own hearts.  We don’t clothe ourselves.  The prophet Isaiah reminds us: (61:10)  “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.”

We can rejoice, because we are wearing a robe of righteousness that the Lord has graciously provided for us.  It is our Lord Jesus Christ who has made this robe of righteousness possible for us.  In fact, he is the robe!  Keep in mind the words of the hymn: 

                   Jesus, your blood and righteousness

                   My beauty are, my glorious dress;

Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head.

 

          The feast is ready. The Lord’s feast of salvation.  Come to the feast.  And there is nothing that can keep you from it.  Dress codes might be burdensome for some.  But not this dress code.  It isn’t at all burdensome because Christ clothes us with his himself.  He meets the dress code for us, so that we can enjoy the feast of God’s blessings here and always.  Amen.