Wednesday in the Twenty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 22:1-14

Wedding Invitations

Here, Jesus tells another parable, similar to the one before, but with wider application.  He begins with the words, “The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to….”  So we know that what follows tells us something of great importance.  A king gave a wedding feast for his son; our thoughts immediately go to the Father who will give a wedding feast for his Son and his bride, the Church, at the end of time (Revelation 19:7).  He sends out invitations for the wedding feast but those invited refuse to come, a singular insult in that time.  He even sends his servants (ministers of the gospel) but they are treated with contempt and even murdered.  In response to this atrocity committed against the king’s magnanimity, the king rightfully sends troops and destroys their city.  This reminds us of what will happen in the last day: those who reject the good news of Jesus Christ will meet their final doom in hell.  It is a just punishment for their willful contempt for what the Father has done for them.  Obviously, the cross means nothing to them.  They are unmoved by the king’s generosity.  Such a slight cannot go unpunished.  (Please understand that we are dealing here with a monarchy and an absolute monarch; the Kingdom of heaven is not a democracy and the offer of salvation is not just another invitation.)

But the king will have his banquet hall filled, so he sends servants out into the streets to gather in as many as they can find.  These receive the invitation to the feast and go in.  We might expect that the parable would end here with, “and they feasted happily ever after,” but it doesn’t.  The parable ends quite unexpectedly.  The king comes to inspect the guests who were urged to attend and finds one without a wedding garment.  When asked how he got in without one, he is speechless.  He is then cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  So what is this wedding garment?  Yes, we must wear respectable clothing to a wedding, but more is at stake here.  The wedding garment is that clothing that the Lord’s gives us when we receive him by saving faith; he covers our sin with his righteousness (Zechariah 3:1-5; Romans 3:21-26; 5:6-11).  It is with this garment that we may enter heaven, and none other.  The parable ends, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”  There are many who “respond” to the gospel but are not true guests but imposters, people who responded for their own reasons, not out of love for the king’s Son.  The call goes out to all the nations; but truly, only few will respond with sincerity, because only they were chosen (John 6:44).  So let us examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5), and see if we be of the wedding party.

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