Blog / Book of the Month / The Invitation / Matthew 22:1-14 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday October 15th 2023 / The Season Of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

The Invitation / Matthew 22:1-14 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday October 15th 2023 / The Season Of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

The Invitation / Matthew 22:1-14 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday October 15th 2023 / The Season Of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday October 15th 2023 / Season of Pentecost - Matthew 22:1-14 / The Invitation

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 in our Gospel Reading 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.”[1] Today's Gospel Reading continues from that very spot in the Gospel of Matthew. Which means we are still in the Temple, still with Jesus teaching the people, still on the Tuesday of Holy week with the cross looming there ahead of Him on Friday and no one but Jesus, can fully see the painful events of Good Friday, or His followers quiet anguish and anxiety on Holy Saturday or their collective joys of Easter Morning. He was the only one who could know what was coming.

Like last Sunday today there’s also a very specific historical application to this Gospel Reading 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 king’s 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.[2]  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 these parables. 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 paint a picture of Salvation History beyond the cross to a time after Jesus’ crucifixion and the resurrection. And it is our Old Testament reading from Isaiah that provides the bridge between last week’s parable of the Tenants and this week’s parable of the Wedding Feast.

The Word of the LORD in our Old Testament Reading from 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; there Jesus’ body hangs dead upon the cross; there 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 have 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 to the feast.

The prophet, the servant Isaiah, was calling them: he'd been calling them on the Lord's behalf from Old Testament times past his own physical death with these words from Isaiah 25 right up to that Tuesday in Holy Week; calling the children of Israel and later the Sadducees and the Pharisees and all the leaders of the people. As with Isaiah all the servants of the LORD made their calls to the people by the workings of the Holy Spirit. As we hear them, and read them today, they point back to what Isaiah was pointing forward to. In these inspired words the invitation the Holy Spirit is always pointing you to the Holy Mountain where the Lord of hosts, in preparing His feast, promised to “swallow up on [that] mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.” There the Lord promised that, “He will swallow up death forever.” As Jesus then tells His parable of the wedding feast Isaiah is just one of the servants calling out to those 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.”[3] Following the resurrection, however, even though we read in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles how “the word of God continued to increase, and [how] the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and [how] a great many of the [Temple] priests became obedient to the faith,”[4] there were still those who had been called who would not come to the feast. In this parable Jesus is prophesying this 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,”[5] Later Stephen 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.”[6] Over and over again people like Jesus’ disciple Peter were 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.”  

In the years leading up to the year 70A.D., following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the generosity of the LORD was already at work and the Good News 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. When that destruction came upon the Temple and Jerusalem those who still clung to the Temple as the focal point of their forgiveness and access to God had nothing left to cling to but God’s Word which, as Jesus said, from Moses to the Prophets to the Psalms all testified to Him.[7] So even in the destruction of the Temple God was giving them yet again another chance to place their faith in Jesus the Son. As Jesus had said to the woman at the well “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.”[8] And what does Jesus say about the Father, He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”[9] At the moment of Jesus’ death “the curtain of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split,”[10] spelling the end of its place of prominence in the life of the faithful. So when Saint Peter and the rest of the remaining eleven disciple—when Apostles like Saint Paul —in those days leading up to the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in the year 70, went out with the Good News of Jesus it was 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,” the risen and ascending Lord Jesus said “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”[11] not some but all, the invitation is for all.

And here we are today 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.”[12] We are baptised into Christ Jesus the son. So along with all the material blessing God has showered on us these 70 years here at Mount Olive and in our own lives along the way, blessings that that Catechism says God gives to “everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people,”[13] 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, like the banquet we will have later today, can serve the purpose of pointing to that heavenly feast where we are the invited guests of our Heavenly Father.    

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.”[14] “[For he] was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they [would then begin] to celebrate.”[15] 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. In this time of 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,” give thanks for the forgiveness you then received.

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 and His Word which He graciously provides us be the judge when it comes to Christian faith, baptism, and the salvation. Second, the king gave the man a chance to ask for forgiveness - this shows the king’s 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. From there The Father’s work continues as He creates in us a clean heart, makes us disciples of His Son and by His Holy Spirit keeps us in the One True Faith, the Christian Faith. 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.

[1] Matthew 21:45-46
[2] 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.”
[3] Isaiah 25:6-8
[4] Acts 6:7
[5] Acts 5:40
[6] Acts 12:1-3
[7] Luke 24:44
[8] John 4:23
[9] John 14:6
[10] Matthew 27:51
[11] Matthew 28:19
[12] Romans 6:4
[13] Fourth Petition: The Lord’s Prayer, Luther's Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2017, pg 21.
[14] Luke 15:22
[15] Luke 15:24

Photo Credits: Main Photo detail of formal table setting from pexels; detail of painting “Jesus Speaks Near the Treasury” (Jésus parle près du trésor) by James Tissot from the Brooklyn Museum; detail of Jesus crucified from pexels; detail of banquet bar service from pixabay; detail of set table with candle sticks from pexels; detail of wedding cake being cut from pexels; two photo details from a desserts table from pexels; and detail of photo of Holy Communion being prepared from