Verse: Matthew 22:1-14 (Parable of the Wedding Banquet)
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He 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. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The 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. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 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.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He 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.”
Can you remember a movie or a book or a relationship that left an indelible mark on your life? Pretty much every movie makes me cry, so I have a hard time picking just one.
Part of this parable is illustrating three ways that people were not being influenced by the message of Jesus. We see three groups of people:
The first group are the group who could care less. They hear the invitation to the wedding feast (which in this story represents the Kingdom of God) and they refused to come. They had more important things to do with their lives. They didn't want to be inconvenienced by what it would require of them to attend. In our lives, are we ever like this towards the teachings of Jesus? Are we ever too busy, or too lazy, to care about what God is calling us to do?
The next group of people are outright violent and angry at the offer of the King. They go so far as to actually kill the messenger. This is clearly an indictment against the Jewish leaders who would kill Jesus, and later persecute, imprison, and even kill followers of Jesus. Today we see this in our culture don't we? There is a definite antagonism towards the message of Jesus. But for this devotion, the question is, do we ever find that in our own heart? Rather than being indifferent, are we ever straight out resistant to God's pull on our hearts and direction in our lives?
This one is the most relevant for my life. The man attends, but is found unchanged—he's not wearing the proper clothing. He was fully willing to come and enjoy the benefits of the wedding feast, but didn't want it to be bothered with himself having to change in any way. Sound familiar? I know it does to me. I want to hear the message of God's love and forgiveness for me. I want to enjoy his blessings. But it is much less exciting for me to want to be changed. But the point of the Gospel isn't just that God loves me (and you)—it is that his love will change us to become more and more like him.
As you look over these three responses, do you find yourself in any of them? If so, maybe this morning is a chance to revisit the effect of the Gospel on our lives. Let's ask ourselves, "am I allowing Jesus and his Word to truly change my heart and life, or am I holding him at arm's length?"
Jesus I pray that your Word and Spirit would penetrate my life and truly change me from the inside out.