Prepped and Ready to Attend
All are invited to be part of the kingdom of God, but only some are prepped and ready.
Matthew(18) (Part of the Liturgical Calendar(9) series)
by Stuart Johns(204) on October 15, 2017 (Sunday Morning(291))
Commitment(3), Kingdom of God(4)
19th Sunday after Pentecost
Prepped and Ready to Attend
“When Katie Hosking decided to break up with her fiancé, it was only 12 days before the wedding. Along with her parents, Katie had reserved a country club for the reception. With 150 invited guests, the cost was $6,200. Club policy required 60 days’ notice for any cancellation, meaning the Hosking’s were required to pay the full amount.
The family decided to have a party anyway. In place of wedding guests, Katie and her parents invited the residents of the Interfaith Family Shelter to a country club banquet. More than 50 close family friends joined 40 homeless people, and together they danced and feasted on baron of beef, salmon, shrimp cocktail, fettuccine, and fruit. Strawberry shortcake replaced wedding cake. Afterwards they packed up the leftover food and sent it back to the shelter. It was enough to feed the homeless for several more days.
When it was over, the almost-bride, Katie, said, ‘We had so much fun!’
[Kenneth Peterson, Omak, Washington; source: The Wenatchee World (6-29-05) (AP story)]
Aunt Diane’s wedding
May 23, 1981 was my Aunt Diane’s wedding at Prince Street UB Church
I was 11 years old and played Little League baseball at the time
I was one of the acolytes at her wedding and I had a baseball game that same day
In fact, my brother had a baseball game before the wedding and mine was after the wedding – it was a busy day for us
So, I wore my baseball uniform under my dress clothes, so I could leave as soon as the wedding was done and make it to my baseball game on time
I rode my bike from the church to Norcross Stadium in Shippensburg
I was prepped and ready to attend two events
I had the correct clothes for a wedding
I also had the correct clothes for a baseball game
Have you ever felt underdressed for an occasion?
In most of those situations we weren’t underdressed on purpose
There is always some explanation
Something went wrong and we found ourselves having to wear clothes that we were not planning on wearing
If you ever played sports, perhaps you or someone you know showed up to the game missing a part of their uniform
Perhaps it was a jersey or the right pair of shoes
It’s difficult to prepare for the game mentally when you’re not prepared physically
Perhaps you’ve gone hunting or fishing and realized when you got there that you didn’t have everything you needed
It’s hard to catch fish without a fishing pole or lures
It’s impossible to harvest a deer without arrows or bullets
We have to be prepped and ready to attend whatever event we’ve been invited to
Jesus shares one final parable as He challenges the religious leaders concerning their failure to lead God’s people correctly. In this third parable He wants the religious leaders and us to wrestle with the concept that . . .
BIG IDEA – All are invited, but only some are prepped and ready.
GOD (Matthew 22:1-14)
Rejected (vv. 1-7)
A certain king had prepared a wedding banquet for his son
Jesus begins the parable with the words, “the kingdom of heaven is like”
Jesus is using a parable to help the religious leaders and the crowd go from something they were familiar with to something that was new for them
With this understanding we can assume correctly that the king represents God, the son represents Jesus, the servants represent God’s messengers, the prophets, and the guests represent the religious leaders and humanity as a whole
It was cultural for two invitations to be sent out in preparation for a banquet
1st Invitation – it’s like our modern day “save the date” cards
The wedding day had come and the banquet was ready
The king sent his servants to those who had been invited to let them know it was time to come
The reaction of the guests who had received the 1st invitation was a refusal to come (a more literal translation would be, “they were not willing”)
The king is not deterred by their refusal
Instead he sends more servants and lets them know how great the meal is going to be
There was going to be oxtail soup
Ox tongue hors d’oeuvres
T-bone steaks and filet mignon
Ox and beef liver pâté
Two responses to the 3rd invitation
Some paid no attention to the servants and went off to take care of their farms and businesses
A literal translation is “they didn’t care”
The ordinary activities of life took priority over loyalty to their king [Blomberg, 327]
Matthew’s wording (“his field” and “his business”) lets us know some of the guests put their selfish concerns before their responsibilities to the king (God) [France, 824]
“In Fast Company Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?, was asked, ‘What stands in the way of people finding their mission?’ Bolles replied:
Prior agendas. For example, my wife, Carol is a well-known career counselor in her own right. She was meeting with a client who worked in the rubber industry, let’s call him George. George told her in their first session, ‘I’ve got to get out of the rubber industry.’ So she gave him some homework to do before their next session. He came back the next week, and he hadn’t done a lick of the homework. My wife, rich with intuition, asked him, ‘What will happen if you don’t get out of the rubber industry?’ George said, ‘My wife will divorce me.’ Carol said, ‘Do you want your wife to divorce you?’
He couldn’t keep the smile off of his face. She knew then that he would never change his job until it had given him what he wanted: a divorce, with his wife taking the initiative and the guilt. Based on his behavior, my wife named this ‘the doctrine of the prior agenda.’ You can’t help people change or find their mission when they have a conflicting prior agenda.
People will never change until they truly want to.
[Daniel H. Pink, "What Happened to Your Parachute?" Fast Company (September 1999)]
The rest of the invited guests seized the servants, mistreated them and killed them
The kings response
When the king heard how the invited guests treated his servants, he was enraged
He sent his army and destroyed those who had killed his servants
He also burned their city
The application is fairly straight forward for the hearers in the 1st Century
God had invited the Israelites to join Him in the kingdom of heaven with Jesus Christ
God’s plan was to involve the Jews in leading others to the kingdom of heaven
Paul has been called the Apostle to the Gentiles, yet at the beginning of his ministry he would go into the synagogue in a town, first, before preaching to the Gentiles
John 4:21-23, Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
Romans 2:9-10, There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
God’s plan was to use the Jews to model what a relationship with Him looked like, but they didn’t keep up their end of the covenant
In the parable of the two sons, the 2nd son initially agreed, but never followed through
In the parable of the wicked tenants, they broke their contract by not providing fruit as rent payment – they weren’t bearing good fruit
In this parable they dishonored God by refusing His invitation and being preoccupied with the things of this world
They refused to come to the celebration of the establishment of His kingdom through Jesus
He sent multiple prophets to let them know that He was ready to establish His kingdom and that they were welcome to join Him
The religious leaders and those who followed them were too preoccupied with their own selfish pursuits to be concerned about joining God in His plan of salvation
When the prophets shared God’s message with them about how they were leading incorrectly and needed to make some changes, they seized the prophets, mistreated them, and killed some of them
God allowed the Israelites to experience exile in foreign lands on multiple occasions, because of their rebellion and treatment of His prophets
Most scholars agree that Jesus’ reference to the burning of the guests’ city is an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70
Principles for us today
PRINCIPLE – God will not force anyone to be part of His kingdom.
He invites us to be part of the kingdom of heaven, but He will never force us to join Him
We have to come to Him of our own free will
“God will not force Himself upon anyone against his will. It is your part to believe. It is your part to receive. Nobody else can do it for you.” [Billy Graham]
John 1:10-13, He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
We’ll come back to this verse in just a little while
PRINCIPLE – God continues to pursue His people to the very end.
He continues to give the Jews multiple opportunities to join Him
He gives us multiple opportunities to join Him, as well
It is never too late, you have not used up all your chances with God
The fact that He has not sent Jesus back to earth for the second time, means you still have an opportunity to join Him
Don’t squander that opportunity
2 Corinthians 6:1-2, As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
He is patiently waiting for you to believe in Jesus and receive Him
His desire is that you are a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ
PRINCIPLE – God will punish those who refuse His invitation to be part of the kingdom of heaven.
If you squander every opportunity that God has given you to join Him in the kingdom of heaven, then there are consequences for that decision
The same spirit that was in the religious leaders of Jesus’ day is still found in “religious” people today
“Today this same class will be found among the children of godly parents; dedicated from their birth, prayed for by loving piety, listening to the gospel from their childhood, and yet unsaved. We look for these to come to Jesus. We naturally hope that they will feast upon the provisions of grace, and like their parents will rejoice in Christ Jesus; but alas! How often it is the case they will not come! . . . A preacher may be too rhetorical: let a plain-speaking person be tried. He may be too weighty: let another come with parable and anecdote. Alas! With some of you the thing wanted is not a new voice, but a new heart. You would listen no better to a new messenger than to the old one.” [Spurgeon cited by Boice, 468]
Many of us can get caught up in the things of this world and pay no attention to God’s invitation to join Him in His kingdom
We may not see it as an active refusal of His invitation, but it is a refusal none-the-less
“Do you fit that pattern? Are you more interested in your good credit than in Christ? Do you read the stock quotations more than you read your Bible? You do not have to murder a prophet to miss out. You have only to fritter away your time on things that will eventually pass away and thus let your opportunities for repentance and faith pass by.” [Boice, 468]
We started the study on the Not A Fan this past Wednesday evening
Through the video, Kyle Idleman challenged us to “Define the Relationship” that we have with Jesus
Are we really followers of Jesus Christ or just enthusiastic admirers
Read Luke 9:18-25 [#1]
All are invited, but only some are prepped and ready.
The Jews had been invited to join God in celebrating the establishment of His kingdom, but they were not prepped and ready and consequently refused His invitation
We see next in vv. 8-10 what the king did in order to fill his banquet hall
Replaced (vv. 8-10)
The wedding banquet is ready and the king does not want it to go to waste
He instructs his servants to go into the streets and gather all the people they could find
The servants obediently went out and gathered everyone they could find – it included both good and bad
The wedding hall was now filled with guests
Jesus had made it clear in His explanation of the parable of the wicked tenants that the kingdom of God was being taken away from the religious leaders and given to another nation that would produce good fruit
Jesus is again making it clear that the Jews had failed to model for the world what a relationship with God should look like, so God was going to invite others to partner with Him to share His plan of salvation
“Whereas those who should have been “good” (Israel, God’s chosen people) had shown themselves to be evil, the king treated all who were evil as though they were good.” [Weber, 352]
The reference to “anyone you find” is perhaps pointing back to what Jesus said in the explanation of the first parable concerning how the tax collectors and prostitutes were entering the kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders
Those from the street corners were both good and bad
All are invited to be part of the kingdom of God
We saw in Matthew 13:24-30, which is the parable of the weeds, that the wheat and the weeds grew together until harvest time when they were separated (the wheat was saved, while the weeds were burned up)
We see the same scenario in the parable of the fishing net in Matthew 13:47-52 that all kinds of fish were caught in the net, the good were saved in baskets while the bad were discarded (the angels will separate the wicked from the righteous and throw the wicked into the fiery furnace)
Principle for us today
PRINCIPLE – God invites everyone to be part of His kingdom.
Factors that don’t matter in order to be invited
Good or bad
Wealthy or poor
Jew or Gentile
Slave or Free
Male or Female
Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, Native American, etc.
God invites everyone
John 3:16, For God so loved the world . . . that whoever believes . . .
John 1:12, Yet to all who received him . . .
Romans 10:13, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord . . .”
2 Peter 3:9, . . . He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
“It was as shocking then as it is now that God accepts the worst sinners unconditionally. As long as a sinner shows willingness to accept God’s grace by faith, God will transform him or her into a kingdom citizen.” [Weber, 353]
So the king invited everyone from the street corners to come to the wedding banquet and whether they were good or bad they came
In the final set of verses in this parable we see that while everyone was invited to come, there was a requirement in order to remain at the banquet and enjoy the feast
“Although the invitation was given to all, proper attire was expected.” [Wilkins, 717]
Required (vv. 11-14)
The king entered the banquet hall to see the guests that had come
One particular guest stood out to him
It was a man who was not wearing wedding clothes
This would have been unusual for a couple of reasons
There is some scriptural evidence (Gen. 45:22; Est. 6:8-9) that the king would have provided festal garments for his guests
In the wedding feast of the Lamb it is stated specifically that garments are provided
Read Revelation 19:6-8 [#3]
Cleanest and best clothes
The king certainly could have provided the clothes
It could also be referring to the cleanest and best clothes that each person had
It was not their everyday work clothes
Declined to wear the proper clothes
“In either case, since the individual is addressed as ‘friend’ and is left speechless when confronted by the king, the implication is that the guest has proper clothing available but has declined to wear it.” [Wilkins, 717]
This man had determined that he didn’t need to put on his cleanest and best clothing or to wear the wedding clothes that were provided by the king
He was coming to the banquet feast on his own terms – no one was going to tell him how to dress, because he was his own man
The kings response
He asked the guest how he got into the banquet hall without wedding clothes
The man has not response
The king instructs his attendants to bind the man hand and foot and throw him outside
The imagery of darkness and the weeping and gnashing of teeth is representative of hell
Jesus concludes his parable triad with these words, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
All humanity is invited to experience God’s grace and mercy through faith in Jesus Christ
Not everyone will accept God’s free gift of grace
Some will refuse it outward
Others will give excuses why they can’t
Some will think they can come to God on their own terms
Jesus wanted those in the crowd, who were listening to Him, to not misunderstand what He was saying
He was teaching in the court of the Gentiles, so it was possible that there were Gentiles who were listening to His teaching at this point
The religious leaders understood clearly that Jesus was saying they had not led the people of God correctly and that they would not be part of the kingdom of heaven unless they repented
Jesus had said that the tax collectors and prostitutes were entering the kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders, but that was not a universal blanket of acceptance
The Gentiles were going to be given the opportunity to enter the kingdom of heaven, but they had to be dressed in the correct garments
The man in the parable and perhaps the Gentiles in the crowd thought that their best was good enough for God, but that was not true
The wedding clothes probably referred to the righteousness of Christ provided by God through Jesus’ death
Isaiah 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, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
The same is true for us today
Principle for us today
PRINCIPLE – God will only accept those individuals who are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness.
Each one of us is accountable for our own response to Jesus’ invitation
Donald Grey Barnhouse is the one who started asking the question “Suppose you should die tonight and appear before God in heaven and he should ask you, ‘What right do you have to come into my heaven?’ what would you say?”
He learned that there were only three responses a person could give
Many would cite their good works, saying, “I’d say I’ve done the best I can, and I’ve never done anything particularly bad.”
Isaiah 64:6, All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
Romans 3:20, Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
We’ve all sinned and fall short of God’s perfection (Rom. 3:23)
Others would not have anything to say – they would be speechless
That was what the man who was not prepped and ready did in the parable
He had no response for why he was not wearing the proper wedding clothes
He knew what the requirement was, but refused to comply
The third and acceptable answer is this, “None at all, so far as I myself am concerned. But Jesus died for my sins and has given me the covering of his own righteousness in which alone I dare to stand before you. I come at your invitation and in that clothing.”
God invites everyone to be a part of His kingdom and continues to pursue you to the very end, but He will not force you to join Him.
He provided Jesus Christ as the perfect sacrifice, so you could be clothed in His righteousness
Read John 1:10-13 [#2]
My Next Step Today Is To: Accept God’s invitation to be part of His family by clothing myself in Jesus’ righteousness.
God will punish those who refuse His invitation to be part of the kingdom of heaven, or try to enter on their own terms.
Are you refusing God’s invitation today?
Are you more concerned about the things of this world instead of eternal things?
Are you trying to get to heaven on your own terms?
The result of doing things your own way is eternal separation from God
All are invited, but only some are prepped and ready
“So the meaning of this parable is clear. God has provided the feast of the kingdom. It is the wedding feast for his Son. The invitation goes out far and wide. If you reject it, you miss the party. If you think you can get in relying on your own fitness, you will be thrown out. Many are invited, but few show, by their response, that they are chosen (14).” [Green, 232]