Matthew 22:1-3 Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come."
I donít know how you feel about weddings, in some ways it really doesnít matter. Because thatís not what its about. Perhaps the closest thing we have today, is a wedding dance. A really good wedding dance, it really doesnít matter what "good" is either, but just imagine one that you wouldnít want to miss. There are many different values and we all have different tastes, but the chief thing is to celebrate the new life and the hope with which marriage begins. So we gather to wish them well, and to share in a time of great joy. These are the kind of things that if we are invited, we will do almost anything to be there.
It is hard for me to imagine anyone being invited to a wedding, and then not going, but then I like weddings. It is even harder to imagine anyone invited to a wedding feast, and then not going. It is even harder for me to imagine that some one important thought to invite you to their celebration, just by the invitation, is says, I think you are important too. I canít imagine anyone who would turn their back on such an opportunity.
The next part is even more curious. Everything is ready, but the guestís arenít coming, so servants are sent to remind them, its time to eat, prime rib is ready.... Farm or business, it doesnít matter, its a feast, and Iíll be there. I donít understand that excuses at all, but what comes next is even worse, I canít imagine what kind of people would kill the servants that bring good tidings of great joy, I canít imagine killing servants for reminding me about something I certainly would not want to miss. But thatís what happened, and when the King found out, he knew that those who had not come, were not worthy of the invitation that they had received, and because of their crime, they would be punished.
So hereís a feast, and an occasion for rejoicing, and so in an extraordinary move, the king sends out the servants to gather all whom they can find. What good fortune, something prepared for the privileged few is thrown open to all. And because it is an open invitation, the king will provide everything, so even if you donít have anything to wear, donít worry, the king will outfit all for this great feast. And so it was the servants went out, and the hall was filled with guests.
Should have been the end of the story, everyone enjoying the feast, but when the king looked out on the hall, there was a guest who wouldnít be separated from his stuff, and if that werenít enough, he didnít wear the clothes that the king had provided. And this is what the picture on the cover of our bulletin is all about.
There are many people who here about Godís offer of salvation, and the grace given in Jesus name, many have heard about how Jesus suffered and died for the forgiveness of sins, but if God wonít save their stuff, then they arenít interested in the gift of God in Jesus Christ. They will hand on to their stuff, even if it means being cast out of the banquet. They will hand on to their stuff, even if it means that it will drag them to hell.
There is only one way in which we can come into the presence of God without fear or doubt. There is only one way in which we can stand before God in judgment and not be condemned. There is only one garment we can wear, and that is that we must be covered with the garment of Christís righteousness. For it is only standing in Christiís righteousness that we have forgiveness of sins. It is only in Christís righteousness that we have peace with God, and everlasting life. And Christís righteousness is ours, in the Word, and in Baptism, and in the Lordís Supper. If we are not standing in Christís righteousness which is ours by grace through faith, then we are standing in our sins. If we are standing in our sins, we are not fit guests at the wedding feast. So it is that God teaches us about his judgment. God sets before us the way of life, and the way of death, and says choose life, I have provided everything you need.
Many are called, donít be too busy, or too involved with your things, to decline the gracious invitation that God has here offered us in the life and salvation that are ours in Jesus Christ.