Scripture: Matthew 22:1-14 (Gospel reading for 15 October)
We love a good celebration, don’t we! Whether it’s a family celebration, a catch-up with friends, a gathering with work colleagues, or the celebration of a sporting victory, celebrations are always joyful occasions.
It isn’t surprising that when Jesus describes life in his kingdom, he describes it in terms of a celebration. One such example is his ‘Parable of the Wedding Feast’ (Matthew 22:1-14).
Let’s be honest, there is a lot to celebrate about life in his kingdom. God has welcomed us into his family by taking the penalty for our sins as his very own, joining us to the perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection of his only Son, so that we can enjoy forgiveness for all our sins, new life now in his name, and a perfect life forever.
Each day we live in the unsurpassed gift of his unconditional love. This is not cause for a dirge or a funeral procession but a marriage feast – a joyful celebration.
The good news in Jesus’ ‘Parable of the Wedding Feast’ is that we are all invited to the celebration of new life in him. Nobody is left out. In the parable, when some people refused to respond, the king told his servants to go out onto the busy roads and to welcome as many people as they could find, ‘both bad and good’ into the feast. God considers nobody to be unworthy of his gracious gifts.
There are only two requirements for our entry into God’s celebration. The first is that we come without delay, by putting our trust in Jesus and what he has done for us. The first invited guest in Jesus’ parable didn’t come when the wedding feast was ready, so they missed out. All from the second group of invited guests who did come were received into the celebration.
The second requirement is that we come on the King’s terms, not our own. According to local custom, the groom’s father used to supply an outer wedding garment for each invited guest to wear. In Jesus’ parable, however, there was a man who chose not to wear the garment that the king had given him. Like the first invited guests, he was also left to wear the consequence of his decision.
Our heavenly King graciously clothes us in his ‘robe or righteousness,’ his ‘garment of salvation’ (Isaiah 61:10) when we trust in what Jesus has done for us, but sometimes people presume to take part in God’s celebration on our own terms rather than his. Maybe we think we are ‘decent’ enough people by ourselves to earn a place in God’s kingdom, without acknowledging our need for, or appreciation of God’s forgiving love.
There is both comfort and challenge here for us. The time to come and celebrate God’s grace is now. We have all received the invitation from the Lord our King. We have all been offered the garment of salvation won for us by Jesus. Let us therefore make this our prayer:
“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for inviting us to your wedding feast. Make us acceptable and grateful guests. Amen.”
Pastor Lester Priebbenow
Bishop – Victoria Tasmania District