June 25, 2023 ~ Matthew 22:1-14
As the sermon series on the Gospel of Matthew continues, we are at the front end of the last part of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In the closing eight chapters of Matthew, Jesus spends His time in Jerusalem, or very near to the city. With His public ministry of teaching and miracles behind us, His interactions with the disciples and the Jewish religious leaders become more frequent and tense. Themes of religious hypocrisy, signs of the end times, the betrayal and rejection of the Messiah by God’s people, and the coming judgment of God come into play. The Jesus we see in the closing chapters of Matthew isn’t the Jesus who is pictured on the cover of a children’s bible.
On Sunday, we heard and considered Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Feast. A king gave a wedding feast for his son. The king’s servants were sent to deliver the invitations to the guests. The people on the invitation list paid no attention to the invitation and turned to their affairs. Some of the invited guests seized the king’s servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was rightfully furious and sent troops to destroy those who killed his messengers and their cities. Then the king sent his servants to the main roads to invite as many people as they could find, to the feast. So who came? The good and the bad. The wedding hall was filled with guests. At the wedding feast, the king saw a man without a wedding garment. When asked by the king why he had no garment, the man was speechless. The king commanded his attendants to bind the man and cast him into the outer darkness where there is weeping and deep regret.
Pastor Jeremy taught about bible-time weddings, the righteous judgment of the king, and the kinds of guests who were invited to the wedding feast. We can read this parable and ask ourselves, “What kind of guest does my life resemble?”
Do we reject God’s invitations to assemble with other invited guests?
Do we attend God’s assembled celebrations in half-hearted measure?
Are we “all in” with a full measure of gratitude for God’s mercy to elevate sinners to worthy-guest status?
This celebrated feast in the parable is a picture of the Church in Revelation 19:1-10. This is where our place in the parable shifts from guest to servant of the king. Let us be ready - and vigilant - to see ourselves as the servants of God, tasked with the duty to invite people from the byways, both good and bad, to the feast God prepares for His Son. The work of inviting people to the feast is the work of evangelism. Evangelism is the task of inviting people to the gathering of God’s people.
As an application to the Sermon, Pastor Jeremy invited everyone to pray evangelistically. Quoting Lee Strobel, Jeremy asked, “If Jesus said to you, ‘I’m going to answer every single prayer you prayed last week, would there be anybody new in the Kingdom of God tomorrow?’” The work of evangelism is not a marketing plan, nor is it a menu of programs to consume, nor is it a matter of styling worship to personal tastes. The work of evangelism is relational and invitational. It flows from a heart that is powered by love that is powered by prayer. Pastor Jeremy also invited everyone to attend a prayer meeting this past Wednesday night. You can read a report about this meeting in this edition of The Map.