Saturday, October 10

Choices and Chances

Did you ever miss a get together only to find out that it was the party of the year?   About 47 years ago in an accounting class at Cal State Hayward, Dr. Zambetti told us how much he hated one particular movie. He stayed home to watch it while his roommate went to the party at which the host handed out shares of a stock that had just gone public. I can’t remember the company but missing that party made Zambetti sick every time he saw that movie come on TV.

I can only imagine how much one would miss if they said ‘no’ to a royal wedding because that’s what Jesus describes in this parable. The King’s son was being wed and all the stops were pulled out for this wedding. An obvious first invitation had already gone out. It would be like our ‘save the date’ announcements. Now, it was time to present the second invitation is sent to these previously invited.

The response is unbelievable. It is unthinkable. After all, this was the King whose party they ignored. Matthew says they “paid no attention”, the only use of this Greek word in the Gospels (Hagner). In their place are those on the streets. Not high society but bad and good. Gentiles, others who couldn’t keep the law, normal, every day, people.

The Guests

The first group who had received the servant’s news that the feast was ready, were God’s own people. The Jews, children of Abraham, and the people of the Covenant those to whom God had saved from Egypt and Assyria. Their reaction is “they didn’t care (Blomberg 327).” When they scorned the provision and protection of their God and King another group was invited. They are too interested in business and land. “Their response is just conceivable at the literal level of the story as treason and revolution (ibid.).” Thursday night we were watching Celebrity Family Feud in which two sets of football greats were playing for charity. In the lighting round the question was asked, “’On a level from 1 to 10 how important is the almighty dollar?’ to which the first contestant, with little hesitation, said ‘10’(Celebrity Family Feud).” The number one action from the surveyed audience was, in fact, 10.

Granted it was the result of 100 people but how much does this reality resonate in our reality. The leadership and people of Israel “are preoccupied with their own affairs and are actively rebellious (Wilkins 178).”

Those on the streets were the equivalent of the “tax collectors, and sinners” (Mt 9:10-11) with whom Jesus had eaten and entertained. The bible does not soft-pedal failure. Those coming into the King’s part includes bad and good people. Like the parable of the Wheat and Tares there comes a time to separate them. But that time is in God’s hand, not ours.

God’s Judgment

There are two experiences of judgment in this passage. The first is against those who had been invited and refused. Verse 7 reads, “The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” Our Lord pronounces what would happen to Jerusalem and the temple in a few short decades. Josephus writes,

“One of the soldiers, neither awaiting orders nor filled with horror of so dread an undertaking, but moved by some supernatural impulse, snatched a brand from the blazing timber and, hoisted up by one of his fellow soldiers, flung the fiery missile through a golden window.… When the flame arose, a scream, as poignant as the tragedy, went up from the Jews … now that the object which before they had guarded so closely was going to ruin” (VI.250–253 quoted in Hendriksen and Kistemaker).”

Why would he do such a thing? It was because such a refusal on the part of those invited shamed and deliberately insulted the host. I was not just a breach of social etiquette, it was “an act of rebellion (Keener).” Couple the concerted refusal with the murder of those whom the King had sent was “explicitly revolutionary act (ibid.).”

The second episode of judgment comes against a man at the wedding feast who had not dressed appropriately. "The wedding garment is symbolic of a totally new mode of existence. This man sat at the wedding banquet, but his heart was not there (Augsburger and Ogilvie)." There is conjecture about how these people would have found or purchased such clothes when invited. But the point Jesus makes is that not everyone who was sitting at the table was meant to be at that table.

A far more feasible scenario would be the servants of the King would offer festal robes to those who respond in obedience to the King’s summons. Apparently, all but this one man accepted the robe.

This one man, however, had looked at his own robe, had perhaps lightly brushed it off with his hand, and had then told the attendant, ‘My own robe is good enough. I don’t need the one you’re offering me.’ Then, in an attitude of self-satisfaction and defiance, he had marched to the table, where he was presently reclining; or from which, when the king entered, he, along with the other guests, had just now arisen (Hendriksen and Kistemaker 797)."

He is summarily grabbed, bound up, and thrown out of the feast into Hell.

Our Salvation

The good news is found in the last phrase in verse 14, “Everyone is invited, not all are chosen” God’s nation—Israel—was among the called, the invited ones. Next come the people on the streets. Some may have come from the destroyed city itself. Most came from the surrounding areas around the town like that we provide people which is calming as well as surprising.

Here redemption and election rear its head. The old question we have before us is that is the man chosen to be a bad example or does he testifies to our reaching for what we need, instead of letting the King's gracious love gives us our true need. Righteousness is our decision, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Remember the passage from Isaiah 25? It is the picture of God’s feast “for all people”. It isn’t just the food that is offered to us who are there but God. “He will swallow up death for eternity.” Tears are wiped away and the blame and finger-pointing by the world, reproach, is taken away as well.

The promise of this passage in Matthew like that in Isaiah is in the future. It is a certainty for those prepared for the wedding feast. But it is also the promise that those who do not belong will not be allowed to remain. Our job is to invite all people to come in for God’s calling is for all people. However, God’s election, or salvation, is reserved for those whom God has chosen. Let’s pray.

 

Works Cited

Augsburger, Myron S., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. Matthew. Vol. 24. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1982. Print. The Preacher’s Commentary Series.

Blomberg, Craig. Matthew. Vol. 22. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992. Print. The New American Commentary.

Celebrity Family Feud. Steve Harvey. October: 2020

Hagner, Donald A. Matthew 14–28. Vol. 33B. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1995. Print. Word Biblical Commentary.

Hendriksen, William, and Simon J. Kistemaker. Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew. Vol. 9. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001. Print. New Testament Commentary.

Keener, Craig S. Matthew. Vol. 1. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997. Print. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series.

Wilkins, Michael J. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2004. Print. The NIV Application Commentary. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992. Print. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. 



Works Consulted

AP. "Everett Bride Calls Off Wedding, Throws Party For The Homeless." The Seattle Times 2005. Web. 9 Oct. 2020.

Augsburger, Myron S., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. Matthew. Vol. 24. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1982. Print. The Preacher’s Commentary Series.

Beehler, John. "A Yugo and a BB Gun." Sermon Central. 2002. Web. 6 Oct. 2020.

Blomberg, Craig. Matthew. Vol. 22. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992. Print. The New American Commentary.

Celebrity Family Feud. Steve Harvey. October: 2020

Hagner, Donald A. Matthew 14–28. Vol. 33B. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1995. Print. Word Biblical Commentary.

Hendriksen, William, and Simon J. Kistemaker. Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew. Vol. 9. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001. Print. New Testament Commentary.

Keener, Craig S. Matthew. Vol. 1. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997. Print. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series.

McLaughlin, Rebecca. Confronting Christianity. Crossway, 2019. Print.

Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B.

Pink, Daniel. "What Happened To Your Parachute?." Fast Company. 1999. Web. 9 Oct. 2020.

Wilkins, Michael J. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2004. Print. The NIV Application Commentary. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992. Print. The Pillar New Testament Commentary.