Trinity 20, 2016

 

The Epistle. Ephesians 5:15-21

The Gospel.  St. Matthew 22:1-14

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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Today’s Gospel should remind us of the Gospel we heard way back on the 2nd Sunday in Trinity.

 

In that Parable that Jesus gave, a man gives a banquet.  He sends out his servants to call those who are invited to the banquet to say to them, “come, for everything is now ready.”

 

Those invited all began to make excuses.  One had to go and look at some land he had purchased.
One had to go and prove some oxen.

One had recently gotten married and he found that to be reason not to accept the invitation.

In that Parable, we are to understand that Jesus, being the Messiah to the Jewish people, had come to them, to call them because His arrival was the time they had looked for.

 

His arrival was their salvation.  The banquet was now to be attended.  Or, salvation was now to be attended.

 

Those who were the invitees were the Jews.  They were God’s own people whom He had promised two thousand years prior that He would come.

 

Yet what did Jesus find when He came?  Rejection, hatred, refusal.

 

These are the responses He alludes to in the Parable as he lists them making excuses.

 

This week, the Parable is similar… yet it does have some differences.

 

Recall also, first that in the first Parable, since those whom God came to redeem found the way in which He sought to redeem them unappealing, He sends out his servants to call others.

 

The blind, the lame, the poor and the crippled.  Compel them to come in so that the banquet hall may be filled.

 

God was determined to save a people unto Himself.

 

So there are some similarities in today’s lesson but there are some other details which we must attend to….because they require our attention….for they apply to us.

 

Today, we have a King, not just a Man, who invites guests to His wedding feast…not a banquet, though it is not necessarily any different.  They are interchangeable.

 

In both cases, this is how the Kingdom of Heaven is to be compared, or understood.

 

But the same thing happens upon inviting the guests.  They would not come.

 

The King sends out other servants, understood to be the Prophets of Old who pleaded with the people of the Old Testament period to repent….come to the banquet…come to the wedding....come back from wandering after other gods…come back from intermarrying with pagans….come back from sinning against the God who brought them out of Egypt.

 

But over and over…they either did for a short time…or they did not at all.

Jesus even in this Parable makes the invitation more palatable.  The oxen have been prepared…the fatted calves have been prepared.  The table is set!!!!

 

 

But they pay no attention…Just as the people of God did in the Old Testament before Christ came.

 

Isaiah, Jeremiah.  Prophet after Prophet called them to repentance and they rejected the messenger and either treated them harshly or killed them in some cases.

 

The same thing in this Parable.  One goes to his farm. One to his business.  Same sort of excuses as the other Parable.

 

This angers the King.  So he says to the servants, “Since those who were invited think themselves unworthy, go out and bring in those who I will make worthy.”

 

Go out and invite those whom the people of God would find uncouth.  “Go out into the roads and gather in all whom you find….both bad and good.”

 

So they do so and the wedding hall is filled.

 

But there is this strange twist here at the end.  The King comes in to greet the guests and what does He find, but a man who is there, not dressed in the proper attire. 

 

He has so wedding garment.

 

He asks him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?”  The man is speechless.

 

So the King has his servants bind him hand and foot and tossed out of the banquet.  He is cast, says Jesus, into outer darkness….in that place where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

A very scary ending for this man and for us to read about.

 

Again, this Parable is not just for the people of God of the Old Testament but for us as well.  But whom is this man representing?

What is the wedding garment?

How did he even get in?

 

We must first of all be careful not to always make a one-to-one comparison between everything in a Parable to things we might think literally.

 

In other words, in the Parable, the King walks about the guests and finds a man in there who is not supposed to be in there.

 

Though the King invited all kinds of people, blind, lame, poor, …even bad and good as Jesus says…He finds a man in there who is not supposed to be there.

 

Now, we cannot believe for a moment that upon the death of a man…an unbelieving man, that he will enter heaven and God will be caught off guard and surprised that he got in there.

 

We know from many places in both Old and New Testaments that God is saving a certain and peculiar people.

 

He is saving His elect.  He is working the salvation of His chosen people.

 

So we need to back up and look at what we do know about the salvation of man and how God goes about it and see just what is meant here.

 

First, we know that The Gospel is a gift of salvation…it is a message of the gift of salvation that goes out through the preaching of the Gospel to the world.

 

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son….that whosoever believes in His Son shall have eternal life.

 

This is the call to the wedding feast. 

 

 

The call for people to repent and turn from their sins and come to Christ is the same as an invitation to God’s Heavenly Wedding Feast. 

 

All of the provisions for the salvation of man’s soul are held out so that no one is without excuse.

 

Pardon, peace, life eternal with God in glory everlasting is the Banquet….it is the Wedding Feast.

 

All of these provisions are laid out for man to take hold of through faith in Christ.  As faithful believers in Christ, we are said to be clothed with Christ.  And taking hold of Him by faith does this.

 

He is our Wedding Attire.  When we place our faith in Christ, we are given Christ as our Wedding Garment.

 

 

We even, because of our baptism, wear it now for the future event.

 

The Scriptures are clear that we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness.  That is the entrance fee, so-to-speak.  That is the required dress code.

 

Bishop Ryle says, “The Gospel, in short, is an offer of food to the hungry—joy to the mourner—a home to the outcast—a loving friend to the lost. It is glad tidings. God offers, through His dear Son, to be at one with sinful man. Let us not forget this: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10.)” [1]

 

Second, the invitation is sent out far and wide.  It is sent out to all men.  When we share our faith with others, God is working through us to invite guests. 

We should think about that when we share our faith or invite friends to come to Church. 

We should keep that in mind as we do so. 

 

We should also keep in mind that those who reject our invitation, if they reject it the rest of their lives, will end up cast into outer darkness.  They will be bound hand and foot and cast out.

 

This alone should give us pause. 

It should give us confidence.

It should give us boldness. 

It should give us desire. 

It should give us urgency.

 

They may laugh at us, or rudely reject us, or even kindly turn us down.  But this is their end if they reject Christ.  They will not be seated with us at the Wedding Feast.

 

It puts a great urgency to the Gospel, does it not?

 

“There is nothing wanting on God’s part for the salvation of sinners’ souls.

No one will ever be able to say at last that it was God’s fault, if he is not saved. The Father is ready to love and receive.

The Son is ready to pardon and cleanse guilt away.

The Spirit is ready to sanctify and renew. Angels are ready to rejoice over the returning sinner.

Grace is ready to assist him.

The Bible is ready to instruct him.

Heaven is ready to be his everlasting home.” [2]

 

One thing is necessary on the part of the hearer.  He must be ready and willing himself to accept the invitation. 

It may come immediately.

More than likely it will come later if it comes at all. 

 

God will be cleared of all blame. 

We, if we are faithful inviters to the banquet will be cleared of all blame.

 

Only the one who rejects will bear that burden.

 

Again, Ryle, “Let this also never be forgotten. Let us not quibble and split hairs upon this point. God will be found clear of the blood of all lost souls. The Gospel always speaks of sinners as responsible and accountable beings. The Gospel places an open door before all mankind. No one is excluded from the range of its offers. Though efficient only to believers, those offers are sufficient for all the world. Though few enter the strait gate, all are invited to come in.” [3]

 

Finally, we are getting to the man who is in without the Wedding Garment.  though it has been alluded to all along here.

 

Salvation through the Gospel is going to be rejected by many.   This may not come as a surprise to any of us.

 

Jesus tells us that many who received the invitation to come to the Wedding Feast or the Wedding Banquet, “made light of it and went their way.”

 

Many today, make light of the Gospel.  We can see this all around us.  Many laugh at the Christian faith and what it entails. 

 

Sadly many hear about it, preached wrongly, or falsely. 

Many hear about it as an invitation to Heaven.  And many have such strange and unbiblical ideas of Heaven that they find no need to enter through the correct invitation we give them.

 

Many think Heaven is a place that is boring.  That is wrong.

 

Many think Heaven is easy to enter into on their own so-called righteousness or being good people.

That is wrong also.

 

Many believe in Karma or reincarnation.

That is wrong too.

 

But here is where it gets closer to home.

 

Many sit in Churches week after week, year after year and do not believe what they hear. 

 

They feel they have no need of this invitation.  They believe it is a fairy tale.
They see no beauty in God and His Son Jesus Christ.

 

They don't necessarily hate what they hear, but they find no urgency or necessity in it either.

 

They have other concerns.  Money, hobbies, fun, business or career.

“It is an awful state of mind to be in, but awfully common.” [4]

 

We should also take stock of our own hearts here today and every day that this invitation is also unattractive or irrelevant to us as well.

We are now seeing the man without the wedding garment become clearer. 

The man in the Parable today of the man without the Wedding Garment is the man who is like this.

 

The Parable is not speaking about the final destination of Heaven or after the judgment when all things are settled and the New Heavens and the New Earth is created.  It is upon death that we will be called to account and all garments will be inspected.

 

 

 

The King will ask, “How did you worship and live among the people of God and think you will enter into heaven when you thought nothing of the invitation…or the one who invited you?  The King….or His Son?”

 

All false professors of the faith and all scoffers of the faith will be detected, exposed and eternally condemned on the last day.

 

All those without the Wedding Garment of Christ will be found out to be false and will not enjoy the Eternal Banquet.

 

Christ’s words are grave and they are eternally important for us to consider.

 

His rejection.  His saying, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him out…Away from me” are words many will hear.

 

Christ will not be mocked.  Many are called, but few are chosen.

We are to make preparations while there is time. We are to do our part to invite while there is time.

 

So our Collect, our prayer today becomes all that much more important than it may have been before we were aware of or reminded of this grave reality.

 

O ALMIGHTY and most merciful God, of thy bountiful goodness keep us, we beseech thee, from all things that may hurt us; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things which thou commandest; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Only those who truly, faithfully and joyfully accomplish the things which God commands through Jesus Christ and are kept by His grace and cheerfully welcome His invitation will feast with Him forever in the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

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In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.



[1] Ryle, J. C. (1860). Expository Thoughts on Matthew (p. 283). New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.

[2] Ryle, J. C. (1860). Expository Thoughts on Matthew (p. 283). New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.

[3] Ryle, J. C. (1860). Expository Thoughts on Matthew (p. 283). New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.

[4] Ryle, J. C. (1860). Expository Thoughts on Matthew (p. 283). New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.