The Man Not Dressed for the Wedding

Photo by Andreas Rønningen on Unsplash 

Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 23
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

Then Jesus began to talk to them again in parablesPhillips Most commentaries believe that Matthew was writing his Gospel for a Jewish audience, but this comment might suggest that he expected many non-Jews to be reading as well. Remember that Jewish rabbis often used parables in their teaching, so Jews would have recognized it right away. The words, is like, tells us it is either a simile or a parable.

“The kingdom of Heaven,” he said, “is like a king who arranged a wedding for his sonPhillips Jesus wants to make sure we understand this is not just any wedding. But I believe that he also wants us to think of this as his own wedding in Heaven as described by John years later. When God the Father has a feast for His Son, we had best be ready, especially since some of us will be the bride.

He sent his servants to summon those who had been invited to the festivities, but they refused to come. Then he tried again; he sent some more servants, saying to them, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Here is my wedding-breakfast all ready, my bullocks and fat cattle have been slaughtered and everything is prepared. Come along to the festivities.”’ But they took no notice of this and went off, one to his farm, and another to his business. Phillips This is a description of the reception by most of the Jews. Jesus came to the Chosen People first as had hundreds of prophets to give them God’s Words, but they squandered the precious invitation.

As for the rest, they got hold of the servants, treated them disgracefully, and finally killed them. At this the king was very angry and sent his troops and killed those murderers and burned down their city. How many times did the Chosen Ones suffer because of their lack of faith?

I believe that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD was necessary for both the Jews and for the followers of Jesus who needed to complete the break with the Jewish walk. There is nothing wrong with being Jewish. Many thousands have kept the faith with Yahweh through the centuries. But the church was becoming more gentile and Temple worship was likely to have caused serious corruption within the members.

Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is quite ready, but those who were invited were not good enough for it. So go off now to all the street corners and invite everyone you find there to the feast.’ So the servants went out on to the streets and collected together all those whom they found, bad and good alike. And the hall became filled with guests. Phillips Remember this is a parable. God is not accepting bad people in their badness. His servants tell people they are invited and it is up to the people to decide to accept or reject the invitation.

In the context of the Heavenly Wedding party, all those bad people will have their sins removed. You won’t have to stand next to an axe murderer; that murder will be erased and you will see him in his Godliness.

But when the king came in to inspect the guests, he noticed among them a man not dressed for a weddingPhillips In those days the wedding guests dressed in white robes. It was an insult to wear any other color. John describes the white robed wedding guests at the Heavenly Wedding.

‘How did you come in here, my friend,’ he said to him, ‘without being properly dressed for the wedding?’ And the man had nothing to say. Then the king said to the ushers, ‘Tie him up and throw him into the darkness outside. There he can weep and regret his folly!’ Phillips We don’t need to think about the man getting past the kings guards; this is a parable after all. The point is that he was not fit for the wedding. In Christian terms, his sins had not been washed away.

The darkness has a double meaning. Weddings then were begun at night. The groom and his men (best men) wound their way through the village streets singing and announcing that the groom was on his way to find his bride. Of course, he knew where she was; it was just to let everyone know that the fun would begin soon. At the bride’s house, the groom would ask the father at the door if his daughter still wanted to be his bride. At this late time she could still say ‘no.’ If she agreed, the men would go one way and the bride would go with her bridesmaids.

But I think Jesus was thinking more of Hell when he spoke of the darkness outside. The Scriptures seem to make it clear that Heaven and Hell are separated by a barrier. But it also seems that the people who end up in the darkness outside can see the brightly lit Wedding Feast.

For many are invited but few are chosen. This enigmatic statement has little to do with an earthly wedding but a great deal to do with being chosen to attend the Heavenly Wedding. John may have described two main groups of people in his Revelation; one group will be the Bride and the other, larger group, will be the witnesses. However it turns out, we all have to get past the royal guards and the sharp eye of the Father of the Groom. What we do here on earth determines if we are chosen. And no, I’m not talking about good works.

Love God, love every person you meet.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

My Purpose

Image by billy cedeno from Pixabay

 

Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:7-14
Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21:33-46

Today’s Philippians reading begins in verse 4, but we need to look back a way to get the whole picture.

Finally, brothers, I wish you joy in the Lord. To write to you what I have already written before is no trouble to me and to you will be protection. Beware of dogs! Beware of evil workmen! Beware of self-mutilators! We are the true people of the circumcision since we worship by the Spirit of God and make Christ Jesus our only boast, not relying on physical qualifications, although, I myself could rely on these tooNJB

Remember that Paul had hostile Jews following him through Greece trying to bring an end to his efforts to share the Good News with everyone. They were able to get him arrested several times. They managed to spread confusion behind him as he traveled. They thought they had hit upon the best idea when they demanded that every man who agreed to follow the Rabbi Jesus had to submit to circumcision.

Paul countered by saying ‘no,’ anyone can follow the Messiah without outward signs of doing so. We follow Jesus in Spirit, there is no need to cut our bodies, or ink our bodies, or any such thing.

With the people of the circumcision in mind, we read on. But everything that was “profit” for me I put down as “loss” for Christ. Yes, indeed, I consider everything to be loss as over against the surpassing worth of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my LordCotton Patch

For Paul, there is only acceptance of Jesus as the very human Son of God. That is it. There is no secret handshake, no memory of some liturgical incantation, you don’t even HAVE to be baptized. Yes, it is encouraged. Once you commit yourself to Jesus, you will find yourself wanting to do the things he did.

Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped mePhillips

What is your purpose? We need to get an education and training. We must work to feed our families. That takes a great deal of time, though less than it used to. A portion of our day should involve that purpose for which Christ grasped you and me.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence