Thursday, January 30, 2014

YOU'RE INVITED (Matthew Chapter 22)

In Jesus’ day a wedding was cause for great celebration accompanied by joyous festivities.  Relatives and friends would sometimes travel great distances to participate.  Neighbors would join in.  Many marriages were deliberately planned for the fall, after harvest, to ensure greater attendance.  The celebration would go on for days.  People would dance, sing, and play musical instruments.  Food and wine were served in abundance.  It was something you would want to go to.

In the third of the “Rejection” parables (Matthew 21:28-32; 33-44; 22:1-14) Jesus compared the Jews to those invited to a wedding feast.  The King, God Himself, was to give a wedding feast.  The feast was to honor the Son (Make note of this for it is essential to a correct understanding of the parable).  He sent out His slaves to call those who had been invited.  The slaves represent John the Baptist and the disciples.  They were commissioned to go to the Jews and publicly proclaim the gospel of the kingdom (Cf. Matthew 3:2; 10:5-7).  The invitation was made.  But the people were unwilling to come.  They refused to accept their Messiah (Cf. John 1:11).

Another invitation was made.  The dinner was prepared and everything was made ready.  This invitation took place post-resurrection.  Christ had died for sins and had risen from the dead.  Salvation from sin was freely offered and some believed.  But most did not.  New Testament “slaves” took the invitation (the gospel message) first to the Jews (Acts 13:46).  Their message was directed to God’s chosen people.  But in general they paid no attention.  Some busied themselves at “the farm” and the “business” (Matthew 22:5).  The rest seized the slaves and mistreated and killed them.  And so it happened in the early church.  The invitation went out, but the couriers were ill-received.  Starting with Stephen, many were martyred.  Saul himself was a party to the murderous response—‘til God saved him.

So the King was naturally enraged.  He sent armies and destroyed their city.  The parable/prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70 when the Romans attacked and ransacked Jerusalem.  Thousands upon thousands were killed.  Others were taken off into captivity.  The temple itself was destroyed and burned.

So the invitation was directed to others.  The King sent out slaves into the main highways and streets.  Both “evil and good” were invited.  Through the Jewish rejection the gospel message has been extended to others (Cf. Acts 13:46; Romans 11:11,25), indeed people from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 4:9).  “And the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests” (Matthew 22:10).  But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed for the occasion (Matthew 22:12).  When asked how he had entered, the man was “speechless.”  In the presence of the king he had nothing to say.  The man was bound and cast into “the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13).  The man was a mere professor and not a possessor, a tare amongst the wheat (Cf. Matthew 7:15-23; 13:24-30).  Lacking Christ’s righteousness any such man will be left “speechless” before God and dispatched to a godless eternity (Cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:9).  “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

The Son of the King is worthy of all glory, honor and praise.  To refuse Him is to suffer grave consequence (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).  It is not enough to mingle with other invitees.  We must worship in the right attire.  A fig leaf covering will be proven inadequate (Cf. Genesis 3:7).  No filthy garments of our own making will do (Cf. Zechariah 3:4; Philippians 3:9).  To be properly dressed one must be dressed by God (Genesis 3:21), with a robe of His making (Revelation 3:5; Philippians 3:9).  Such garments are adorned by grace through faith alone.  They are worn with pride in the One who has provided them (Cf. Philippians 3:3; Galatians 6:14). 

You are invited to a huge celebration.  Others have rejected the invitation and are rejecting it still.  The party will be to celebrate and honor the Son.  He is altogether worthy of a quick and ready response.  Make sure you are properly attired!  Nothing less than being clothed with His righteousness will do.  “Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness, My beauty are, my glorious dress!”

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