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COME TO THE WEDDING BANQUET

Matthew 22:1-22:14
Key Verse: 22:4

Wedding is most joyful event in our lives. Do you like a wedding banquet? When we think about Jesus, he also wanted to bless the wedding. He performed his first miracle at wedding banquet at Cana. Christian life should be like a wedding banquet. The “Wedding” was 16 times appeared in New Testament and 10 out of them were in Matthew gospel in this chapter. In today’s parable, Jesus described the kingdom of God in the background of wedding banquet. May God open our hearts widely to know the secret of this parable.

Part I. EVERYTHING IS READY

Verse 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.” In Matthew’s gospel, there are 12 parables written about the kingdom of heaven. This is one of the parables. As we know, the Kingdom of heaven is one of the key themes in this gospel. Jesus helped his people to continue to think about the kingdom of heaven in this earthly kingdom. Let’s think about this parable. “Kingdom of heaven is like a wedding banquet” It shows that kingdom of heaven is full of joy, love and happiness. This is different from earthly kingdom producing many serious things and accidents day by day. At a conference last week, I had a presentation on a session which dealt with various toxic chemicals in the environment including our residence. I was aware that we are exposed to many hazardous chemicals, more than we think. This made me concern about health. But I newly see that the kingdom of heaven is chemical-free. At least you don’t need to worry about toxic chemicals.

There are many sorrowful events around us. Illness and death of our close people make us sorrowful. Many people live without true joy in their heart. True joy doesn’t come through our accomplishments. One of bible students had difficulties in school study but recently she had a good mark in a tough exam unexpectedly. It was great encouragement to her. However, she said “the joy did not last long” She started to think about true joy. We really want true joy that satisfy us and never go away.

Jesus knows our needs and invites us to the kingdom of heaven with such joy and peace. So, when people meet Jesus, their sorrow is changed to be joyful. For example, Samaritan woman married five times in order to meet her Mr. Perfect. But she ended her each marriage life with disappointment. However, Jesus helped her to quench her inner thirst in him. She became happy woman because of Jesus. Likewise, Kingdom of heaven comes to us through Jesus.

In this parable, the king prepared the wedding banquet for his son. The king loved his son very much. He chose a best bride for his son. He wanted to celebrate the wedding with his people. The wedding was most joyful and important in his kingdom. Here, the king refers to God and his son is Jesus. The wedding can be a life in Jesus in this earth. And it can also relate the wedding between the Lamb of God and his bride in the kingdom of heaven according to the book of Revelation 19:7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! for the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready”.

Verse 4 described how good the wedding banquet was. “Everything was ready” The king prepared best food with organic materials without MSG. The food (noodle, lobster, bread, rice, fruits, desert) was also ready for American, Asian, European, African and vegetarian and non-vegetarian, the old and young and man and woman. Singing team prepared a beautiful choir “O Happy Day!” Dancing team also would perform classical dance for the old and contemporary dance for the young. The fully ready wedding showed the abundance enough to satisfy anyone. “Everything is ready” It sounds like, in order words, “Everything is here.” saying the abundance of God’s kingdom in love and peace.

In light of God’s redemptive work, “Wedding banquet is ready” symbolizes the completion of salvation work. We have no power to save ourselves from our sins. But God sent his son Jesus to save us. Matthew 2:20 says about his birth “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” And Jesus’ last words on the cross was “It is finished”. By his death and resurrection, our sin problem was resolved and we can come to God. The wedding banquet is the glorious time of celebrating of our salvation and rendering glory to Jesus along with all his people.

Part II. Invite anyone…

According to the custom, wedding hosts sent out the invitations months in advance. When the time came, the host send out his servants with another invitation and inform them “everything is ready, it is time to come” Invitation to the royal wedding could be a great privilege. Last year, there was a royal wedding between Prince William and Kate. After that, related statistical results were produced. 24.5 million People watched TV. 9 million accessed webpage. 1.1 million People visited the capital, 1900 people were invited to the ceremony and 650 people were invited to the reception. 300 people were invited to dinner and ate food including 1700 t-biscuit prepared by 21 chefs.

The invited people in this parable must be thankful to the king. However, surprisingly, they refused to come. So the king sent more servants and said “My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready.” Quickly come and eat. But they rejected again. Look verse 5, They did not pay attention and went to work. In a similar parable in Luke’s gospel, their excuse was written. “'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'” “"Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.'” It could be very insulting to the King since the invitation to a royal wedding is both an honor and a command.

Even worse, the rest seized his servants, mistreated and killed them. We wonder how such thing happen. What was their problem? They loved the world than the king, the son, the wedding. They ignored and despised the King’s invitation and killed his servants. Thinking of religious leaders, outwardly they seemed accept God’s invitation. But they rejected God’s way of salvation through Jesus. They did not listen to John the Baptist’s message. They did not accept Jesus’ invitation. Finally, they despised and killed him.

What was the consequence of their rejection to King’s great favor and love? He was enraged and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. This was fulfilled in A.D. 70 by Roman soldiers. The Bible says “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:8).

Then the king gave a new order Verse 8-10 “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find” So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad. The servants did not discriminate as to whom they invited. Among them, there was a Mafia gangster. But the servants challenged him to come to the wedding. The servants obeyed King’s direction 120 % and worked hard for meeting and inviting people. According to a similar passage in Luke’s gospel, they invited the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. Even though those people were helpless and needed extra care, the servants respected and valued them and brought them to the banquet. Those who were invited willingly came to the wedding with humble heart and deep gratitude. They were deeply moved by King’s grace because they thought such invitation won’t happen in their lives. They took it as great honor and blessing. They exclaimed “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Bringing both good and bad people may be striking to Jews who thought that only the good can go to the kingdom of heaven. But important thing in this invitation was not whether people were good or bad, but whether they accepted invitation or not. I think when Matthew said this, he wanted to say “I was bad but I received the immeasurable grace of God upon my life through Jesus’ invitation” “Come follow me and I responded right away.” When Jesus called other disciples and they also responded “Yes”. In contrast, one time when Jesus invited a rich young man who struggled to live a good life but he left Jesus because he did not want to lose what he had. Likewise, God’s invitation is open to anyone. There was no favoritism. There was no criterion for invitation. God did not see our appearance, age, job, ability and race.

What is the result of invitation? “The wedding hall was filled with guests” The wedding hall was filled with people who accepted his invitation.

Part III. Wedding clothes

Verse 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes” The guest were poor and no decent cloth belonged to them. The king prepared the wedding clothe for them. However, a man might have a good clothes of his own and wore it instead the wedding clothe. He thought light of wedding clothe. But it was his big mistake. The king noticed the man with improper dress code and asked “Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?” It was like a bolt out of the blue. He was speechless and it was too late to fix it.

We see the importance of wedding clothes. What is God’s given clothes to us? We can wear them by repentance of sin and faith in Jesus. When first man sinned, they made coverings for themselves (Ge 3:7). However, the coverings would keep reminding them of their sins. God knew it. After he gave them a promise of salvation and he made a garment of skin by sacrificing animal and let them wear it. So, they could live as a forgiven sinner. The garment of skin kept reminding them of God’s love. Man-made clothes versus God-made garment. Sinners tried to make covering for themselves with many seeming good things such as self-righteousness. But God hates man-made clothes to cover themselves without solving sin problems.

God completed new clothes for sinners through sacrificing his son Jesus. He provides us with perfect clothe. It is sin and condemnation-proof and can make us righteous before God. We must take off our old clothes and wear the clothes of salvation by daily repentance and faith in Jesus. It is important to come to Jesus as we are and repent daily before him. One time Peter said to Jesus when he tried to wash his feet “You shall never wash my feet” and Jesus said “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” We may also commit to Jesus so that our inner being is sanctified in his image.

Jesus concluded this parable. Verse 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen” It does not mean there is competition in entering the wedding banquet. It was Jesus’ lamentation. It also warns the importance of our right choice. Many were invited but they did not have right choice. “Many” showed that God’s love is abound and no favoritism. But few follows what God wants. It also reminds us of another Jesus’ words (Mt 7:13) “"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Mt 7:21) "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Only those who have intimate relationship with Jesus by constantly relying on his blood and growing in him can enter the wedding banquet. May God help each of us to hold fast to Jesus’ blood and live by his grace, leading to eternal joy at wedding banquet in the Kingdom of God.

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