A Wedding Invitation - Thanksgiving: 18th Sunday After Pentecost - Matthew 22:1-14 / Pastor Ted Giese
A Wedding Invitation - Thanksgiving: 18th Sunday After Pentecost - Matthew 22:1-14 / Pastor Ted Giese
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“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?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Last Sunday we heard Jesus tell the parable of the Tenants, the one about the wicked tenants in charge of the vineyard. In it Jesus predicted His coming death and laid out how authority over His Father's vineyard, the children of Israel, the people of Jerusalem was about to change hands. The text ended with these words, "When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard [Jesus'] parables, they perceived that He was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, because they held [Jesus] to be a prophet." Today's Gospel reading continues from that spot in the Gospel of Matthew. Which means we are still in the Temple, with Jesus teaching the people, on the Tuesday of Holy week with the cross looming there at Friday and no one but Jesus, can fully see the events of Good Friday, His followers quiet anguish and anxiety on Holy Saturday or the joys of Easter Morning. He was the only one who could know what was coming.
It's the Thanksgiving weekend and yesterday I preformed a wedding - they had a big feast after the ceremony, Joni and Jeff happily started their life together with a big meal. They invited people to come and they were surrounded by friends and family and the ones they love. Today or maybe Monday many of you will be having your Thanksgiving feast and you also will have invited people to come or you yourself will have been invited somewhere and even if you haven't been an inviter or an invitee you are here and Today we celebrate Holy Communion which is a foretaste of the feast to come, the wedding feast of the Lamb. So one way or another here we are giving thanks and here we are thinking about this text form Scripture.
Like last Sunday there is a very specific historical application to the text and yet it also applies to us today. The important thing to remember, in the midst of this text, is that in the Parable Jesus over and over again shows the king, who gave the wedding feast for his son, as a king who is generous and gracious. The king does deal out punishments but his grace never fades away, he is gracious right through to the end of the Parable, in fact with the words, "many are called, but few are chosen," we see the kings grace extending past the end of the parable right into our time, right to today and to tomorrow. This is the Grace of God in Christ Jesus. He never stops inviting you to Himself. Never stops calling.
The specific historical setting that Jesus is pointing forward to is the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70A.D., including the destruction of the very Temple that they are all standing in as Jesus is telling the parable. So if the last parable painted a picture of Salvation History through the Old Testament leading up to the cross of Christ Jesus this one continues to the time after the crucifixion and the Resurrection.
For us today our Old Testament reading from Isaiah provides a bridge between these two parables. The Word of the LORD in Isaiah comes to pass in Holy Week: There is the institution of the Lord's Supper on Thursday and Jesus' crucifixion at Golgotha,the place of the Skull, mount Calvary, on Friday where Jesus' body hangs dead upon the cross, where His blood flowed for the forgiveness of sin. As Isaiah puts it, "On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined." This is the wedding feast of the Parable that those who were invited to the wedding feast were being called to. The Feast is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin. They were being called to it, called to place their faith in it, called to see it for what it was - the fulfilment of God's promises to them - but they would not come.
The Prophet, the servant Isaiah was calling them, he'd been calling on the Lord's behalf from the Old Testament past his own physical death with these words right up to that day, calling the children of Israel and later the Sadducees and the Pharisees and all the leaders of the people. In these words the invitation was set forth and it was pointing to the Holy Mountain where the Lord of hosts, in preparing His feast, "will swallow up on [that] mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever;" As Jesus then tells His parable of the wedding feast Isaiah is just one of the servants calling to the ones who had been invited to come to the feast, for at the feast "the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth." Following the resurrection, however, there were those who had been called who would not come. In this parable Jesus is prophesying the rejection of the Lord's gracious gift of the gospel. The rejection of the Son's Wedding feast and all that it provides.
How does this play out? Outside of the parable, after the events of Easter, there were Sadducees and Pharisees and others who "paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized [the] servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them" just as Jesus had said in the parable. Sadducees and Pharisees and others mistreated people like Peter and "the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus," Later Stephen, for whom the Stephen Ministry is named, was stoned to death for his confession of faith in Jesus, and later again "Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when [Herod] saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also." Over and over again people like Jesus' disciple Peter being mistreated and killed. Here we see how some people, in this case people called by the Gospel, invited by the good news acted either with indifference or with enmity toward Jesus, toward the wedding feast that the King was throwing for his son. And then after a generation of grace had passed then the LORD allowed the Romans to come in and destroy Jerusalem and the temple, like the Parable that Jesus told says, "The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city."
After the resurrection of Jesus and His ascension in the years leading up to the year 70A.D. the generosity of the LORD was already at work and the Gospel of the defeat of death by Christ at the Cross was going out to all nations, when the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple came however at that point those who still clung to the temple had nothing to cling to but God's Word which as Jesus said from Moses to the Prophets to the Psalms all testified to Him. So even in the destruction of the temple God was giving them yet again another chance to place their faith in Jesus the Son. In those days, just like you hear in the Parable, the, "servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests." Isaiah said that the feast was for "all peoples."
And here we are the bad and the good, the ones invited and gathered into the Son's Wedding Feast. Each of us bad in our sin and good in our righteousness. We have our wedding garment of righteousness, we are baptized, and as Saint Paul says, "we were buried therefore with [Jesus] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ [Jesus] was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." We are baptised into Christ Jesus the son. There are a couple of us with dates set for our coming baptism, and even now they have faith in Jesus and His victory over death. So along with all the material blessing God showers on us, that that Catechism says God gives to "everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people," we today have amidst God's richest blessing the blessing that surpasses all other blessings our righteousness in Christ Jesus; our baptism, our faith, our seat at the eternal wedding feast of the Son. Our earthly meals of thanksgiving can serve the purpose of pointing to that heavenly feast.
The reading doesn't end right there however. In fact it ends with a stern warning. Even though the ones who at first had spurned the invitation were dealt with by the king there was, as everyone sat down, "a man who had no wedding garment [who had made his way into the feast]. And [the king in Jesus' parable] said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And [the man] was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ In the original language it is clear that the person came knowing he was not properly dressed and he came in anyway showing indifference towards the kings wishes, this indifference was active enmity toward the king. Now I think I know what the king would have said if the man said, "O king your servants invited me, they invited the bad and the good and I am a bad man, only have mercy on me and forgive me, can I remain at your son's wedding feast with these your guests?" If the man had said such a thing the king would have responded like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, "Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet." "[For he] was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they [would then begin] to celebrate." But alas in the parable today the man who knew he'd crashed the party, when asked "was speechless," he was not repentant, he didn't say, "Lord have mercy!" While the feast was for him as it was for "all peoples" he could not open his mouth to ask for mercy or forgiveness and in silence he was cast out. This thanksgiving be thankful for the mercy of God and for the spirit of repentance that is in you, give thanks for the times you have said, "forgive me dearest Jesus, I have sinned."
Two final thoughts - First, it was not the other guests who asked were the man's wedding garment was as he sat down at the feast, it was the king. Let the LORD be the judge when it comes to the faith, the baptism, the salvation of others. Second, the king gave the man a chance to ask for forgiveness - this shows the kings great mercy and grace. From the beginning of the parable he continues to invite, he invites even the ones who'd already been invited, and in the end the invitation stands - so to with God the Father, in Christ Jesus His Son the invitation stands, the invitation is for all people we are not asked to judge we are asked to invite, to call and to give thanks for the LORD'S grace and mercy to us. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Matthew 21:45-46
 1 Corinthians 1:4 "I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus."
 Isaiah 25:6-8
 Acts 5:40
 Acts 12:1-3
 Luke 24:44
 Romans 6:4
 Luther's Small Catechism pg 20.
 Luke 15:22
 Luke 15:24