October 10, 1999
Once again Jesus used stories to teach the people.
The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a king gave a wedding banquet for his son. The king sent some servants to tell the invited guests to come to the banquet, but the guests refused. He sent other servants to say to the gusts, "The banquet is ready! My cattle and prize calves have all been prepared. Everything is ready. Come to the banquet!"
But the guests did not pay any attention. Some of them left for their farms, and some went to their places of business. Others grabbed the servants, then beat them up and killed them.
This made the king so furious that he sent an army to kill those murderers and burn down their city. Then he said to the servants, "It is time for the wedding banquet, and the invited guests don't deserve to come. God out to the street corners and tell everyone you meet to come to the banquet." They went out on the streets and brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike. And the banquet room was filled with guests.
When the king went in to meet the guests, he found that one of them wasn't wearing the right kind of clothes for the wedding. The king asked, "Friend, why didn't you wear proper clothes for the wedding?" But the guest had no excuse. So the king gave orders for that person to be tied hand and foot and to be thrown outside into the dark. That's where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. Many are invited, but only a few are chosen. [CEV]
1. Jesus continues to teach with stories rather than propositional or creedal statements. We have come to think of Jesus as a rule giver, a second Moses with the 10 Commandments. It is closer to the case to see Jesus as being anti-religious. He tells stories which leave many things open rather than closing things off. This approach continues to be difficult for people of this day, as it was for people of his day.
2. If the good and the bad are invited why such a big deal about a correct wedding garment? Isn't that just an extension of the bad who are invited? In John Wesley's notes on the New Testament he looks at this image as the righteousness of Christ. If one person (a person who is good and bad) is invited and accepts the invitation to put on Christ, perhaps even tries it for awhile, and then takes it off they have moved from an improved mixture of good and bad back to their original state or worse. The general term is that of having backslidden or falling off the wagon.
How do you use your own disciplined imagination given you by GOD to make sense of the wedding garment imagery? How does it fit your life?
3. "Many hear; few believe. Yea, many are members of the visible, but few of the invisible Church." says one commentator. Many are members of a church. Fewer allow that membership to transform their lives -- day by day being closer to the image of GOD breathed into them. It is easy to be fooled into thinking one is better than one is simply because of church membership. There is a definite call here to go to your farm or your place of business wearing your wedding garment, not avoiding being known by your spiritual name. May you be bold in your joyful participation in the feast of GOD going on all around you.
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