Today’s Reading: Matthew 22
Good Morning, it’s the start of another week! I’ve been intentionally praying for God to help me to remain connected to Him as the holiday season approaches. As I began reading the text for today’s reading, I got a little anxious. I actually put it down a few times and moved on to other projects because I just simply didn’t get it! I think it’s important to share that with you as a writer. Sometimes, extracting meaning from these ancient writings is complicated and messy. I tossed around the idea of skipping the Parable of the Wedding Feast all together. I mean, honestly guys, what in the world is going on here! There are clear parallels to the story of the Wedding Feast in Luke 14. But, Matthew’s telling is far more violent and confusing. Some commentaries argue that the two stories are actually separate tellings of the same event. Matthew’s writing comes within the context of the week of the Lord’s Passion. Whether or not they are a recounting of the same story, the intention of the author is clear. The message is that God invites us to grace and mercy through his Son, Jesus. And, we along with all of Israel are declining that invitation. We react with indifference and sometimes even whole hearted rejection.
The wedding feast is likened to covenant that God makes with his Christian followers. When the initial chosen guests refuse to come, the King sends his servants out to find anyone in the street to partake in the banquet. How often are we missing this invitation? How often am I responding with scorn or irritation to the opportunity to be with Jesus in the kingdom of heaven? The story takes a final twist in verse 11:
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?…” Matthew 22:11
The man isn’t just sent away, rather he is thrown out to the darkness bound and beaten. This final part is uncomfortable. It’s a challenge to us as Christians. Are we going to come dressed for the party? Are we going to put on the vestiges of Christ in order to be truly prepared for his coming and our salvation? In the end, this twisted tale is really about becoming the bridegroom of Christ. It’s about dressing for the party even if we aren’t sure there will be anyone else there that we know. Matthew ends the parable with this:
“For many are called, but few are chosen” Matthew 22:14
This is so powerful for me. So many of us are called by name but only a few are chosen for eternal life with Him. I want to share the final paragraph of Allen Ross’ teaching published in Bible.org on living a kingdom bound life:
In interpreting the parable, the context is so important. Throughout the events of the Passion Week leading up the crucifixion, the conflict between Jesus and the leaders became much sharper than it had been in Jesus’ public ministry before. Now everything was clearly set in order in the events and teachings for all to see, and in seeing the issue, the people would know that their decision to accept or reject the grace of God in Christ was truly a matter of life and death, eternal life and death. He made it clear that the only way they would ever see the kingdom of heaven was by him.
The story makes it clear that there is no reason, none at all, for people to reject a gracious invitation from the King to come to the wedding feast and enjoy all good things. The only reason they reject the invitation is that they do not believe the King, or they do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (Allen Ross, Bible.org)
There’s just no way to say it better. Are we going to accept or reject the invitation extended by our King? Can we withstand the conflict with our personal, political and cultural leaders in order to accept the grace offered by God. Can we put on the clothing of Christ and attend the feast?