21st Sun. aft. Pentecost
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
October 17, 1999
(Imagine, if you will, the most important and resplendent formal dinner you have ever attended. For me, that probably would be the incredibly formal dinners I enjoyed when I was a passenger on board the HMS Maasdam in 1964. Never had I experienced such splendor in dining! Our table had it’s very own waiter, a man skilled in the fine points of making his guests comfortable. Barely did a man at the table put a cigarette to his mouth than our waiter had a match to it. If you just looked like you might be looking for something, he was there instantly inquiring how to make you more comfortable. Now my world of experience is still rather limited with respect to such events. I’ve never been invited to a Presidential Ball or Banquet, and somehow, my name was left off the list for the reception following the wedding of Lady Di and Prince Charles. To have attended the wedding of a future king would undoubtedly be the social event of my life. In our text, an invitation is sent out to attend the wedding of a king’s son. But this is no mere earthly king. It is God the Father welcoming his invited wedding guest to a dinner banquet that does not end and which only gets better with every passing moment. Amazingly, those invited first refuse to come, and those invited later must come properly attired or be thrown out forever. God, in His grace has chosen us to be at His table for the wedding feast. Listen and learn the lesson of this parable!
TO REFUSE THE INVITATION OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS TO DEVALUE OUR CREATOR.
Many respond to the servant’s invitation with indifference.
We learn that they paid no attention and one when off to his field and another to his business.
What an indictment! They care less about the King or His invitation!
But this isn’t merely a story, this reaction continues to this very day.
Get the picture: It is the chosen people of Israel who are invited to the wedding banquet, but when the prophets came – on after another – they were ignored.
“Just another religious ‘crackpot’”, they reasoned.
“Who is he to disturb my preconceived notions about God”, they protested.
Today we like to dismiss God’s messengers in the same way.
Pastors used to be considered “keepers of the truth”, but often have been reduced to a “friend” who’s entitled to his own opinion.
Indeed in our society anyone who speaks with the authority of God’s Word is frequently dismissed as an “intolerant religious bigot”.
When this happens, the one who sent the messenger is devalued and insulted!
Others have heard God’s invitation and have reacted violently:
Time and again the very lives of Christians have been ended because the message of God could not be tolerated by ears that preferred their own philosophies, or because the message contradicted their self-made theologies.
Time and again, the Old Testament prophets were murdered for extending the invitation of God to repent and return to faithful living. (Mt. 23:37-39)
The Roman arenas gave witness to the hatred of unbelieving ears to the message of Christ crucified and risen.
During the Islamic invasions of the Middle East and Northern Africa, Christians died by the hundreds of thousands if they would not renounce their faith.
Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, preached against the horrors of the Nazi regime, and was executed shortly before the war’s end.
Another Lutheran pastor, Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, working in Soviet controlled Rumania endured months of solitary confinement, 14 years of periodic physical torture, constant suffering from hunger and cold, and constant brain-washing at the hands of his Communist guards. Why? Because of his insistence that the voice of Christ would not be stilled.
The Jews have despised the invitation meant for them and the promised kingdom will be given to those outside the theocracy…the Gentiles.
Here is the sad tale: The Children of Abraham are antagonistic toward the promised seed of Abraham, the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
They have walked away from the covenant promises given to them and will now have no part in the eternal banquet.
This speaks of Israel’s relationship to God as a nation.
But the Gospel promise of salvation in Christ Jesus is graciously available to every Jew who believes on the Messiah God has sent a remnant of Israel shall be saved through faith in Christ!
TO RECEIVE THE INVITATION IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT IT IS NONE OF OUR DOING.
Who was invited after those who declined? Everyone!
And as we can tell, many, from every walk came to the feast.
They did nothing to deserve the invitation in any way…they just received it.
So too does God issue His gracious call to faith with an indiscriminate joy!
Here is a great truth: Jesus died so that all men could live!
Salvation is NOT for a select group of deserving people!
Salvation is specifically for sinners, who know they are sinners!
Salvation is in place for every man, woman, and child on the face of the planet – past, present, and future!
Who is finally admitted?: Only those who find their righteousness in Christ
The man who comes to the wedding banquet, but dresses in his own clothes is completely unacceptable.
Here some middle eastern customs need to be known…
Since they have come directly from the street, it was essential that the wedding clothes be provided by the King.
In the same way, we are given the faultless clothing of Christ Jesus, by our eternal King at the moment of our baptism.(Gal. 3:27)
Having been clothed with the righteousness and forgiveness of Christ, we are welcome to the wedding hall forever!
But what of the man without the wedding clothes?
He had chosen to reject the free gift of the wedding garment he had been offered and determined to wear his own righteousness instead.
Can you imagine the insult of the king:
His Son had died to provide the garment.
Yet this man determines to attempt to impress the king with his own, sin-soiled clothing! How can this be?
CONCLUSION: Eighty years ago a poor European family emigrated to this country. Being poor, they brought only bread and cheese to eat on the way. Finally, their little girl complained. Father gave her a nickel and told her to the dinning room to see if she could buy some ice cream. She was gone a long time and returned with a big smile. “I ate three ice cream cones and since I was still hungry, I ate a steak dinner.” “Where’d you get the money for that?” her father asked. “Oh,” she said, “it was all free. All the food is free. It comes with the price of the ticket.”
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