Printable PDF: 10-25-2020 Pentecost 21 Sermon
Pastor Jacobson ~ Pentecost 21 ~ October 25, 2020 ~ Matthew 22:1-14
1Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ 5“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Save the Date
A Sunday school teacher was teaching his middle school class about the wedding in Cana. That was the wedding where Jesus miraculously turned water into wine. The wine was of such quality the master of the banquet said to the bridegroom, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first, and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2:10). The Sunday school teacher then asked the class what they had learned from this lesson. One student said, “I learned Jesus is almighty God. Jesus can do anything.” A second student answered, “I learned Jesus cares about our every need. Nothing is too small for Jesus.” And then a third student answered, “This is what I learned. If you are going to have a party, make sure Jesus is there.”
For the record, Jesus does not condone drunkenness. But let the record also show, Jesus does condone a good time. Jesus is quoted as saying, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). And one of the ways the Bible describes that full life is through the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. At the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, Jesus, the bridegroom will visibly returns to this earth and bring his bride, the church, to live with him forever in heaven. Everything will be perfect because everyone will be made perfect. This day is most certainly going to come and it will be fun. Save the date! Don’t miss it through unbelief. Don’t mess up through hypocrisy.
- Don’t miss it through unbelief.
It’s still Tuesday of Holy Week and this is the third parable Jesus has told in a row. The sad story here is how God’s invitation to believe in him is often rejected through unbelief. One of the ways unbelief is demonstrated is through simple indifference. Jesus describes simple indifference in the parable this way, “They paid no attention and went off – one to his field, another to his business.” Certainly nothing wrong with having a field. Nothing wrong with having a business. Those are good things to have, and those are good things to be busy doing. However, those noble pursuits turn evil when they become more important than the wishes of the king. He wants them at the party and they should have gone. This simple indifference is similar to Jesus’ description of the time of Noah and the flood. “People were eating and drinking, marrying and giving into marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away” (Matthew 24:38-39).
A second way unbelief is demonstrated is through open hostility. Jesus describes outward hostility in the parable this way: “The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.” The Bible starts this open hostility story with Abel killed by his own brother Cain, and we see that story rerun throughout many of the pages of the Bible.”
So where do we fit into with these groups of unbelievers, the ones who were simply indifferent to the king’s invitation and the ones who were openly hostile to the king’s servants? The Good News is we don’t fit in with them. We believe the Gospel. We’re not indifferent to the Gospel. We’re so motivated by the Gospel we came to church or we turned on our computer to listen to what God has to say to us in his Word. With God’s help, we are trying to make sense of this sermon. 😉 So far we are learning how God wanted certain people to come to his party, but how many of those people didn’t want to come.
It’s a blessing to learn from our mistakes. It’s a greater blessing to learn from other people’s mistakes. Can what was happening to the chief priests and Pharisees happen to us? Can we become indifferent to God’s invitation? Can the studying of your fantasy football roster become more important than studying the sacred Scriptures? Are you thinking more about what needs to be done for your earthly home? Have you talked to your kids about a plan to take them on vacation, but not about a plan to take them to heaven? Most worldly pursuits, just as the field and business mentioned in the parable, are in themselves harmless. But they lose their neutrality when they stand in the way of God and entry into eternal life. Save the date! Don’t miss the party through unbelief. Don’t become indifferent to God’s gospel invitation and don’t become openly hostile about it either.
In the parable the invitation comes again and again. The people Jesus is teaching have received the gospel invitation from John the Baptist, from Jesus himself, and later they will receive the gospel invitation from the apostles. God doesn’t want his people to miss heaven. The opportunity is too great, and the alternative is so severe. He’s going to do all he can, but to some the Word of God can look like another phone call from a man or a woman named Potential. Have some of you ever received a phone call from Potential? His or her last name is “Spam,” Potential Spam. No one calls me more than Potential Spam and no one irritates me more than Potential Spam. I don’t want to murder Potential Spam, but I never want to receive a phone call or text or e-mail or letter from him ever again. Could what is being said about Potential Spam also be said about Grace Ev. Lutheran Church? How do people feel about a call from Grace Ev. Lutheran Church when they haven’t come to Grace Ev. Lutheran Church for a long time? How do people feel about an e-mail from Grace Ev. Lutheran Church when they haven’t prayed for or participated in anything at Grace Ev. Lutheran Church for a long time? Do some throw away the Grace Ev. Lutheran Church Newsletter before it makes it into the house or is opened? Even though our ministry suffers from human limitations, we have the gospel invitation and the blessing of our Lord. Don’t ever treat the servants of Grace Ev. Lutheran Church as Potential Spam.
- Don’t mess up through hypocrisy.
Eventually, the gospel invitations will stop, and they will be given to other people. That’s what Jesus warns in the parable. “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you can find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.’”
Here is where we fit in. Through the world-wide preaching of the Gospel what was once known only in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria has also reached us in the United States of America. Through faith in Jesus we have become his guests at a feast of joy which already begins in this life. Every day here on earth we celebrate the forgiveness of sins. In this Christian church Jesus daily and fully forgives all sins to me and all believers. Isaiah the prophet said, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). And this is good because Isaiah also says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (64:6).
Jesus ends his parable of the wedding banquet with a disappointing story because Jesus doesn’t want us to mess up through hypocrisy. It’s not enough to be in church when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead. It’s not enough to be a good person when you die. Those behaviors are probably good enough to receive a church funeral. Those behaviors are probably good enough to have good words spoken of you by others. Those good behaviors won’t pass as good enough with God. Unlike us, God sees though hypocrisy like we spot an underdressed person at a wedding banquet and so evaluate your motives. Why are you here? Why are you listening to God’s Word and committed to living a God-pleasing life? You are here because you have been invited by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and through faith, not good behavior, Jesus has given you a robe of righteousness to wear all the days of your eternity. Jesus is having a party, make sure you are there. Amen.