Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

That's What He Said, Parable of a Wedding Feast

October 12, 2020 Pastor Dave Tucker Season 4 Episode 19
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
That's What He Said, Parable of a Wedding Feast
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
That's What He Said, Parable of a Wedding Feast
Oct 12, 2020 Season 4 Episode 19
Pastor Dave Tucker

So often we get the cart before the horse! We find ourselves doing good deeds to get God to love and accept us. What we need to realize is God already loves and accepts us! 

Based on Matthew 22:1-14
Originally preached October 11, 2020 
at St. Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Show Notes Transcript

So often we get the cart before the horse! We find ourselves doing good deeds to get God to love and accept us. What we need to realize is God already loves and accepts us! 

Based on Matthew 22:1-14
Originally preached October 11, 2020 
at St. Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church

THAT’S WHAT HE SAID, PARABLE OF A WEDDING FEAST
MATTHEW 22:1-14 

         When I was in seminary, the last class I took before graduating was “Teaching the Parables” It was a wonderful class and the professor was very knowledgeable in both preaching and in the parables of Jesus. There was one parable we discussed, early on in the semester that was particularly problematic and difficult for even the most scholarly of scholars to understand. I remember my professor saying to the class, “Even though this parable is in the lectionary, IT DOES NOT PREACH! Avoid preaching on this parable at all cost! That was February of this year… As I looked at the lectionary in preparation to preach for this series, what do you think popped up for this Sunday? The parable that does not preach. Remembering the words of my professor, I whispered to myself, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! And I put my head down and went about the task of doing the research necessary to preach this parable. Because after all, these are not my words, “It’s what HE said.”

         With that introduction, let us pray a prayer of illumination as we invite the Holy Spirit to be with us. 

[PRAY] 

         Before we begin our study on this parable, let us start out with what this parable is not about. I have heard this parable preached from a standpoint of the Jews being the first guests invited to the wedding banquet. The Jews rejected the invitation to the wedding (AKA they rejected the Groom, Jesus). As the sermon is preached, this action caused God to look on the Jewish people with great displeasure and he God burned their Holy City, Jerusalem. Therefore, God rejected the Jews and gave the kingdom to the gentiles. This is very dangerous theology and it leads to anti-Semitism. Remember, Jesus was, Himself a Jew. And God NEVER breaks covenant with God’s people… He just creates new covenants to include more people. God is a God of “I choose you.” God is a God who is not willing that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9)

         This parable isn’t about predestination. The part of the parable today, “Many are called but few are chosen.” Has been used to “prove” by many that some are born into salvation and some are born into damnation. Again, this is dangerous theology and it is simply not what Jesus is saying here. Furthermore, this exercise is utilizing a dangerous exercise called proof texting, which I am not interested in. Proof texting is where we read one text out of context, and add it to another random text without context and come up with a theology based upon the compilation of the two texts.

         I’m not even sure that this parable is about final judgement per se. It does have an eschatological theme. (eschatological being the study of end times and the world to come.) Many scholars would argue that the book of Matthew was written after the destruction of Jerusalem and so the themes of a burning city would be relatable to those for whom this gospel was originally written for. So, IF it is a parable about judgement, it would have been music to the original audience’s ears to hear that those who destroyed the holy city of Jerusalem, would themselves pay for their actions.

         Since there is no time travel machine…. Yet… (I’m holding out hope here so we can travel out of this time of Covid) it is impossible to ask the author of Matthew what it was he was trying to convey in his account of this parable of Jesus. Perhaps, when we get to heaven we can talk to Matthew and Jesus and get the scoop first hand. Until then, however, the only responsible way to study this parable is how we can relate to it today, October 11, AD 2020. 

         So, from the lens of where we stand now, there are several things going on here. First, this parable is reminiscent of Revelation 21:1-4. Here, John the Revelator says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

         ‘See, the home of God is among mortals.

         He will dwell with them as their God;

         they will be his peoples,

         and God himself will be with them…’”

So if we use Revelation as sort of a key or lens from which to interpret the first part of this parable, we can see that Jesus is the bridegroom and God is preparing a party, a banquet feast for God’s Son and God’s chosen people. The strange thing, and the understandable tension created here is, not everyone will choose to be a part of God’s kingdom. Even though God did all the salvific work on our behalf and even though God chose us from the foundations of the earth, there are still those who push that gift away. God, who never takes away free choice, never forces this salvation upon anyone. The tension, for me anyway, is why would anyone who has seen the beauty of Christ and experienced the Grace of God want to turn away from that? And there is a huge part of me that wants to believe that God eventually gets God’s way and all are brought into salvation. There is also a very big part of me that wants to believe in an empty hell. That is my tension, anyway and it is what I wrestle with on a regular basis. THIS tension is literally what drives my ministry. 

         The other part I want for us to explore in this parable is the guy that gets kicked out of the banquet hall for not being dressed appropriately. There is more code in this parable that I would be remiss if I didn’t let you in on… Whenever there is a person who uses the word, “friend,” in any of Jesus’ parables, it is NEVER a good thing. It’s kind of like the equivalent of when your parent calls you by all your names… you know you are in deep trouble! There was a big difference for me growing up between when my mother called me Davey, and when she called me DAVID ORVAL TUCKER, JR.

         In this parable, the king, (also known as God) noticed a man not wearing a wedding robe. Now this is strange, track with me here…. The King says “FRIEND, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” Now common sense would tell us that the man SHOULD have said, “Um, well, I was walking along in the street, minding my own business, when I was invited to this banquet… I just came right in!” Instead, scripture tells us that the man was speechless! The poor guy didn’t know what to say. And he was bound hand in foot and tossed out into the darkness. WHAT ON EARTH JUST HAPPENED HERE?!

         Again, we can only use our theological imagination here and look at it from our current place in time. If we go back a couple of chapters to Matthew 7:21-23 we see Jesus saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ So, as I understand this scripture, it isn’t enough to know Jesus and proclaim Jesus and do good things in the name of Jesus, there must be something more. Perhaps, the people who Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7, were doing all these great things APART FROM A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS. Perhaps these people in Matthew 7 were doing these good deeds in order to save themselves and not out of love for God, neighbor, and self. Isaiah 64:6 perhaps places the missing puzzle piece to complete our understanding of this part of the parable. The prophet Isaiah says “Our righteousness is like a filthy cloth, or filthy rags. 

Going back to the parable, I think we can say that it appears that the problem with this person in the parable wasn’t just that he wasn’t wearing the wedding robe, but he went home, put on his own clothes and came back. In other words. This man, represents those who try to save themselves. Instead of putting on the righteousness of Christ, he put on the filthy rags of his own righteousness. The people in Matthew 7 were not people that Jesus was denying, He literally did not recognize them as God’s people because they did everything outside of a relationship with the Savior. This is what Martin Luther referred to as “Cheap Grace.” A relationship with Jesus generates good fruit. So often we get the cart before the horse! We find ourselves doing good deeds to get God to love and accept us. What we need to realize is God already loves and accepts us! We must rest in that knowledge and allow God and God’s goodness to work in and through our lives. 

AMEN 

- 5 Daily Gratitudes

- How do you pray for those in your life who appear to be rejecting the grace of God? Write out a prayer for that person (those people)

- Is there anything we are doing that detracts others from seeing the Goodness of God?

- In what ways to you try to put on your own righteousness?