“The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son.” (Matt. 22:2)
Humanity’s greatest crime against God is not merely the fact that we are sinful, nor that we choose to sin, but it’s more about what we do with His invitation. I believe this parable in Matthew 22 gives us one of the clearest pictures of what we were created for and why so many miss it. It is glaringly obvious that Jesus told it to illustrate how the Jewish leaders rejected their Messiah, but it is also told to show that the same invitation has been extended to us today.
“When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!” (Matt. 22:3)
God wants an equally yoked companion, a pure bride who would love Him with the same intensity that He loves her, with her entire heart. Thus, He offered an invitation to the children of Israel to be His chosen people. They were His original guests, but still, they rejected Him. Even after sending His own Son, God made flesh, to hand deliver the invite, they crucified Him.
“But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way…” (Matt. 22:5)
I’m convinced that the primary reason why many reject the gospel invitation is not because we would rather go commit some heinous crime, but because we would rather go our own way. We generally think of ourselves as good people, and we have our own expectations for our life. The temptation is not always to go out and blatantly commit adultery as much as it is to just choose to be a normal, average, comfortable citizen. Then, as we try to swim with the murky flow of the culture around us, we lose sight of our purpose and identity, and we eventually drown in our compromise. I believe that so many would rather go their own way because we haven’t understood that the invitation is to a FEAST. We were never invited to join a lifeless system of moral regulations, but when Christ is truly our Lord and Savior, following Him is a feast that satisfies the very soul of our being. The Church has spent many generations calling people to “sell everything” and “buy the field” without really showing them WHY IT’S WORTH IT. I have found that it becomes tremendously difficult to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against us if we haven’t built our life upon the revelation of the preciousness of Christ, our Chief Cornerstone. He is the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price worth selling everything for. He has prepared a FEAST FOR US! When I see how undeserving, helpless and hopeless I am on my own, I find that complete surrender to Him is the only thing that makes sense.
“The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go to the street corners and invite everyone you see.” (Matt. 22:8-9)
Notice in this parable that the worthiness of the guests did not depend on their ability, achievements, wealth or social status, but on their willingness to accept the invitation or not. We are invited because He is worthy, and we are accepted because of our willingness to choose Him.
“But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding.” (Matt. 22:11)
In the Jewish culture of that time, the father of the groom was responsible for providing the wedding garments for ALL those that were invited, and by wearing these valuable garments they were expressing their agreement with the marriage covenant that was taking place. The Father went to the greatest of lengths to purchase the “best robes” for us, which would permit us to experience the “feast” of relationship with Him, but instead we continue to wear our filthy rags. The bad news is that we can never afford to buy the necessary garments to be accepted into the feast, but the good news is that we don’t have to provide our own garments! He has purchased them for us! All He is looking for are people who are willing to take off what they have been wearing and put on what He has provided! What a beautiful exchange.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” (Isa. 61:10)
The issue that begins to arise now is that many who actually receive the invitation initially and come to the feast, end up rejecting it in one of two ways: 1) They try to purchase their own garments of approval 2) They take advantage of it by using the invitation to get into the feast, but they aren’t willing to change their clothes. Imagine purchasing an extremely costly engagement ring for the one you love, and after they say yes, they spend the rest of their life trying earn enough money to buy their own ring so they can feel more worthy instead of trusting in your love to begin with and moving forward in the relationship, OR they never wear it so they can remain “available” to others while still claiming all the benefits of being your fiance. Both responses deeply grieve the heart of the Bridegroom, who didn’t offer His proposal on a knee, but a tree.
This same grievance of rejecting His invitation happened in the garden and it still happens today. But I believe there is a people arising from the highways and the byways who have heard the call and are responding with their all! They will lay it all down, forsake all their excuses, not settle for temporal comfort and put off all their old clothes, so that they might go to the feast, bringing many with them on the way. If you are reading this, know that you have been invited, your wedding garments have been purchased, now your response is up to you.
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14)
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…” (Heb. 2:3)