Jesus is still in the temple in Jerusalem confronting the chief priests and Pharisees. We are in His last week this side of the grave. He is pushing all their buttons to bring them to the place where He needs them to be. Willing to kill Him on His schedule. Ready for round four?
Jesus uses another parable to illustrate God’s relationship with Israel. This time it is about a king and his wedding feast for his son. A definite parallel to God and His wedding feast for His Son. This one will send the Pharisees back to their corner to make a new plan.
The king in our story has prepared a feast for his son. The king sent word to all those whom he wanted in attendance that they were to be ready to come on the date and time of his choosing. This was a select group that he chose to honor with his invitation. The king hadn’t set a concrete date but he had instructed the invited guests to be watching and listening, as preparations were sure to take place well in advance of the actual wedding feast day.
The day of the wedding feast arrived. In preparation he has set an extravagant table. He had the oxen and fatted calves killed and prepared, brought in the best wine, had the tastiest dishes prepared, set out the finest place settings in the kingdom, decorated the hall, hired the musicians, and groomed the entire grounds. He has left nothing undone. His servants have even been redressed in the finest serving garments. It is now time to call the guests.
The king sends his servants out to the invited guests to tell them it is time to come to the feast. The king expected that the people would be eager to come celebrate with him. He expected that they would be ready. He had not hid his preparations from them. They should have known the time was near.
“The king requests your presence at his royal banquet for his son’s wedding” is heard being proclaimed in the square. “All the invited guests are to proceed to the palace at once.” People look up at the servant standing on the pedestal, but then they continued on about their business. No one seemed the least bit interested in what the servants were announcing.
The servants scratch their head in confusion. “What is wrong with these people? Don’t they know the king is waiting for them?” After several more attempts, they return to the king to report the reaction of the intended guests.
The king is puzzled by the servants’ reports. Maybe the guests didn’t understand that everything was ready, and that this invitation was not just a forewarning. “Go and tell the invited guests that everything is ready now. Tell them of the preparations that have been completed. Invite each one personally to ensure that they know that their presence in indeed desired.” This time many more servants are sent to ensure that everyone would receive a personal invitation.
The servants go to every home and business of the people that had been invited. The servants make sure that the people know the king is waiting on them right now with a wonderful banquet already prepared. This time instead of ignoring the servants, the people actually grabbed some of the servants and beat them and killed others. Some were treated to upturned noses as the invited guests went back to their business and ignored the invitation outright. The servants that survived this mistreatment by the people returned to the king and informed him of all that had happened.
The king was furious with the people! How dare the people treat his servants this way! The king immediately called for his military general. “General, have you heard my servant’s report from this morning’s atrocities?”
“Yes my lord. I heard of the unprovoked murders and beatings that took place in the town today.”
“Good. I want you to take your finest troops and repay those responsible. I want every last one of those murders dead by the end of the day. I also want you to burn their town to the ground.”
“As you order my lord. It is nothing more than what they deserve!”
Next the king calls more of his servants. “The wedding feast is still ready and only awaits guests before it can be served. Those who were originally invited were not worthy of such an honor. I want you to go out on the highway and into every road you come across. You are to invite anyone you find. Tell them that the king has prepared a wedding feast and requests their presence.”
The servants went out into the country searching far and wide. They invited anyone they came across. The people invited were both good people and bad people; it didn’t matter. The king was extending his invitation to everyone! Now there would be more than enough guests to fill the banquet hall.
When the king heard all the voices of the guests he was very pleased. The king wanted to inspect the guests before the festivities started. The king walked around the room taking in all those in attendance. The guests were dressed in their finest clothes. This was truly a grand sight to the king. Then the king’s attention is directed at one man. He is not dressed for the wedding but looks like he came straight from the field. He is dirty from head to toe. “This is NOT acceptable”, the king thinks. He approaches the man and asks him directly how it is that he came into the king’s wedding feast without first cleaning up and getting dressed in proper clothing. The man is speechless. What could he say?
The king called his servant who had been stationed at the door. “This man has somehow sneaked past you. He is unfit for this gathering. Bind him up hand and foot and cast him out of here into the night! Out there is where he belongs, with all those who refused to come. Out there where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. That is the fitting punishment for such as those.”
Jesus ends His story by saying that “many are called, but few are chosen” (verse 14).
My heart goes out to the king, but it also goes out to the man who was thrown out of the banquet. The king (God) poured his heart into making this banquet for his son (Jesus). The invited guests (the nation of Israel) thumbed their noses at him, outright refused to come, beat and even killed his servants (God’s prophets). They earned their “reward.” Because of their refusal the banquet was opened to all others. People came from all walks of life; rich, poor, good, bad and everywhere in between to the king’s celebration.
The man who didn’t come in a wedding garment was found out by the king himself. I don’t know how he slipped past the gate keeper. All the other guests knew that the invitation required them to be dressed appropriately for a wedding. I’m sure not all of them had the finest clothes but they cleaned up and put on their best for the occasion. Except this man. He did nothing to conform to the expectations of a wedding feast. He figured what he had on was good enough. If the king was inviting anyone and everyone, then he must not care how they came. Not so! He found that out the hard way.
We are all called to the wedding feast but we must FIRST be cleaned and dressed. This is through repentance and washing in Jesus’ blood. Jesus then puts a new robe on us before we enter into His Kingdom. This man skipped the washing and dressing. He assumed that he could get in on his own merits. There is NO other way in except through Jesus. That is why this man was rejected. He was sent to join those who had murdered the king’s servants. He went to hell. He was invited, like everyone else. He just didn’t think it important to accept the “whole package” to make it in the door.
Father God, thank You for the wonderful feast You have prepared. Thank You that You wash me and dress me. I have nothing appropriate for such an occasion. I feel for those who try to make it on their own. I wish I could do something to help them understand the requirements. Thank You that You met all the requirements for me. That same payment is available to anyone who asks. Please help me communicate that clearly to anyone who asks of me.