Matthew 22:1-14 (click for full reading)
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.”
(click on the title above to listen to the sermon)
Nothing like a downer of a Gospel text to start things off right!
Today’s Gospel is not easy, and can sometimes feel morel like bad news than good news. But a closer look can tell us a lot about this text.
In parables we often can learn the most about what Jesus is trying to tell us by placing ourselves in the text. In this case, there are a few main characters to pay attention to: the king (who we know to be God), the invited guests, the guests who were gathered in off the street, and that one guy thrown back out.
Now, I know who I WANT to be. I want to be the invited guest that says yes the first time. But, often when I get the invitation to the greatest party ever, I tell Jesus I’m too busy, and just go back to my day to day. Those guests learn quickly that this party is a big deal, and saying no is the difference between life and death.
Then the King simply goes and brings in everyone he can find to come to the party. Good and bad. Worthy and unworthy.
Yessss. Thank goodness! Even if I don’t quite have my act together, the King still brings me into the banquet.
And this is where we want this parable to stop, right? We’re all here, ready to party! All of us!
But it doesn’t end here.
Because there’s a guy, who is wearing the wrong clothes, that gets thrown out of the party. Now this can seem harsh, until you learn that the King likely provided clothing for the guests – as a gift, as a part of the invitation. Here is the good news of this text: We are in the banquet. Whether we said no or yes, the King has come and gathered us into the party.
And then, we’ve been given new clothes. Because, as Paul says, in our baptisms we have been “Clothed with Christ.”
We can’t be a part of this party with our old life on. We have been given a new life, and trying to hold on to the old one only results in us missing out on the awesome banquet.
So here we are, at the party, in our party clothes… and it’s time to dance. Are you going to sit on the edge and refuse to join, or are you all in?
Questions to Ponder/Discuss
1. Who do you relate to more in this parable? The invited guests? The ones brought in from the street? The one who refused to put on the free clothes? Why?
2. What things are “old clothes” for you, and how might they be preventing you from joining in the party?
3. What things are “new clothes” or “Christ clothes” for you? How can you remind yourself that you’ve been “clothed with Christ” today?
At the end of worship, everyone was handed a card with the words “You’re Invited” on it. If you got one, find a place to put it where you need the most reminder of the party you have been a part of, that you are in right now, and can live out in the world. (If you missed Sunday, make your own “You’re invited” note and join us anyway!)
It’s party time! Let’s get to it!