How did you get in here?
- Psalm 23
- Matthew 22:1-14
We all know about weddings, invitations, RSVP’s and preparations for the great day.
Last week the Word came to us and spoke about the long-suffering of the owner of the vineyard: time and time again he sent servants to get his fruit, until he sent his son, whom they killed.
Jewish leaders and the Covenant people of the Old Testament rejected the Son who became the Cornerstone and foundation of the building.
God’s wrath to the hardness of heart and the stubbornness of those who knew the revelation and grace of God, yet rejected it:
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” (Matthew 21:43–44, ESV)
Today the Word speaks to us about invitations to banquet of the king in honour of his son. It follows in the footsteps of the previous parable about the wicked tenants, and is most probably directly adders to the leaders of the day, and through them to the people.
The King prepared at banquet
That it was not unusual among the Jews first to send out a general invitation and then later to invite those that had been called. The men of Jerusalem according to tradition, boasted that no one of them went to a banquet unless he were twice invited.” In this parable, however, there were in all not less than three invitations!
Verse 3 states:
… and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. (Matthew 22:3, ESV)
The king first invited the guests, then he sent out the servants to the guests who were perfectly aware of the invitation. Then he sent out some more servants. Like in the previous parable.
The King Himself
It was God who called Abraham (Gen. 12:1 ff.; 13:14–18; 15:1–6; 17:1–21; 22:11–18), Isaac (Gen. 26:24); and Jacob (Gen. 28:13–15; 32:22–28; 46:2 ff.). It was God who called Moses (Exod. 3). And it was God whose voice Israel heard and who made a covenant with the people.
Servants of the King
From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors. (Jeremiah 7:25–26, NIV)
The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. (2 Chronicles 36:15–16, NIV)
so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven. (Mark 4:12, ESV)
It seems that everything in the Old Testament was a preparation for the Son.
Fall – promise:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15, ESV)
From that point on the King, our Father, prepared for the wedding banquet of his Son.
They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. (Hebrews 8:5–6, ESV)
But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order. (Hebrews 9:7–10, NIV)
The sacrificial system of the Old Testament was insufficient and temporary: it called for fulfilment.
The prophets of the Old Testament prophesied about Christ who would come ; others were a good example as to why the office of prophet called for fulfilment in the promised Messiah. Kings like David were and example of the Messiah who would come, but their sinful failure also cried out for the perfect King to come.
The King prepared a banquet. He called:
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; (Isaiah 1:18–19, ESV)
The wedding banquet is about to begin:
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.” ’ (Matthew 22:4, ESV)
The reaction to the invitation
But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, (Matthew 22:5, ESV)
They displayed indifference: far more interest in earthly matters than in heavenly, in material things than in spiritual, in the farm and the place of business than in the invitation to accept salvation full and free for soul and body throughout all eternity. Life as usual. The King, his Son and his kingdom is of no importance. Thanks, but no thanks!
They went further: active hostility – grabbing the servants, treating them shamefully, and even murdering some of them.
A few days after Jesus spoke this parable, they shouted: “Crucify Him!” and added:
“His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25, ESV)
Wherever Paul went as described in Acts, it was the Jews who stirred the people against the Gospel.
But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. (Acts 14:2, ESV) But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. (Acts 14:19, ESV)
Then we read the words of the apostle Paul:
And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:6, ESV)
Reaction of the King
The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. (Matthew 22:7, ESV)
They rejected to long-promised Son of the King, they rejected the invitation of the long-suffering King, they invoked God’s curse on themselves by having the Son of the King crucified on the cross like a worthless criminal, while they were the criminals.
The banquet not cancelled
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. (Matthew 22:8-10, ESV)
The meaning is clear. When the Jews who had been invited refuse to accept Christ, other people in great numbers are brought in. These others are mostly from the Gentiles, though Jews are not hereby excluded. The fact that both good and bad are brought into the kingdom or visible church has been explained in connection with the parable of The Dragnet.
The fact that through the sacrifice of Christ and the leading of the Spirit salvation is now for all, entirely regardless of race, nationality, sex, social standing, etc., and that no nation—whether British, Jewish, Dutch, Swedish, German or whatever—has any special standing before God is clear.
The wedding hall was filled with guests, both good and bad. It is now made clear, however, that this “good and bad” has reference only to human standards of judgment. It does not mean that ultimately those who in God’s eyes are and remain “bad” are destined for the joys of the new heaven and earth. Verses 11–14, “the missing wedding robe,” will make this clear.
By the command of the king and from his bountiful supplies, at the very entrance of the wedding hall a wedding robe had been offered to each guest. All except this one person had accepted the robe. This one man, however, had looked at his own robe, had perhaps lightly brushed it off with his hand, and had then told the attendant, “My own robe is good enough. I don’t need the one you’re offering me.” Then, in an attitude of self-satisfaction and defiance, he had marched to the table.
We have the example of the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:7–8, ESV)
No difference between the Jews and this man
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. (Romans 10:1–3, ESV)
Of himself Paul writes:
…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:4–6, ESV)
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Philippians 3:8–9, ESV)
Robe: many examples in the Bible:
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. (Job 29:14, ESV)
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. (Psalm 132:9, ESV)
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10, ESV)
Self-righteous and indifference are the same: The Jews disregarded the need to come to the banquet in honour of the son. The sinner depended on himself. It was not the fact that he was bad that caused him to be chucked out of the banquet hall – there were other bad people too, but they did not rely upon themselves to be acceptable in the eyes of the King: they accepted the robe and therefore abided by the rule of the King; do otherwise and the absolutely, astounding free grace becomes crushingly and bewilderingly hard!
The lot of this self-righteous sinner is not any different from the lot of the self-righteous Jews who rejected Jesus:
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.’ (Matthew 22:13, ESV)
The gospel call goes forth far and wide. It reaches ever so many. Most of them are like the man in the parable: they hear but do not heed. In comparison with those many that are lost there are but few that are saved, that is, few that are chosen from eternity to inherit life everlasting. Salvation, then, in the final analysis, is not a human accomplishment but the gift of God’s sovereign grace.
How did you get in here?
The King prepared a banquet for his Son. His coming was long promised and proclaimed. It was time for the Son to be crowned.
Invitation sent, heard, rejected in indifference and self-righteousness: their city burned.
Invitation sent, heard and excepted in self-righteousness: weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Christmases come and go. The wedding banquet is ready. The invitation is still going out. Righteousness to be found for nothing – free of charge.
How did you get in here?
Sermon Preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 17 December 2012