“And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
The Big Wedding Invitation
“We are in Matthew chapter 22, so open your Bible’s to Matthew chapter 22. This week I received an email message from my father-in-law, and it was a picture of my sister-in-law, my wife’s sister. She has one sibling, Cindy. And Cindy was standing in the middle of the football stadium in San Diego during half-time, with the Chargers and the Broncos. And it didn’t go very well for the Chargers either that day. But she was standing there and she was holding one of these really big checks. You know, it was like one of these three or four foot deals, and she had seven or eight people with her. And the reason why she was standing there, she had been nominated to be the volunteer of the year in San Diego for Pop Warner Football, and the Chargers work closely with the Pop Warner Football out there. So she was one of the finalists, here she is, middle of half-time, in the picture you see the Stadium, there’s tens of thousands of people, and she’s holding this big check. And I emailed my father-in-law back, because they sent the picture. And I just mentioned how she must have felt pretty special, can you imagine standing there, got the big old check. I hope it wasn’t one of those clearinghouse checks, we weren’t told anything about that. Because if it was, we’re going to make sure we call her. [laughter] But, it looked like one of those really big checks. Evidently they make donations on behalf of the people that were there, that were nominated, to the Pop Warner various areas in San Diego that were voted to be the volunteers of the year. So anyway, she I’m sure felt pretty special and important. And we have times like that in our lives. You know, she got the invitation, and we even got the call before, ‘Hey, she’s been invited to do this.’ And so she got to take a couple people with her. Of course her two boys who play football out there, and then my mother-in-law, and just excited about going. It’s a special time. And there are times in our lives too where we have those experiences, where we get invited to something that is in our eyes pretty special for whatever reason, maybe because the focus will be upon us, and we feel just special and excited about it, and can’t wait to get there. Or maybe it’s because of who invited us. Sometimes we look forward to certain opportunities where we’ve been invited because of the people there, they’re important people to us, in our eyes. As I was driving back from the state next door yesterday, Jim and I were driving together, and we were talking about Andy in our state, another Calvary Chapel in our state, and how he started as a Calvary Chapel, he had never been to a Calvary Chapel, but decided one day to call Chuck Smith on the phone, he had been listening to Chuck on the radio, and just decided to call him and actually got Chuck on the phone. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm to learn about who Chuck Smith is and what Calvary Chapel’s are all about.] They talked a little bit, and Chuck said ‘Call me back sometime.’ So he just started to call Chuck and developed a friendship with him. And Chuck Smith to me, because of where I am and the way I think, he looks like an important person to me, you know, Chuck Smith. [Sort of like Billy Graham or now Franklin Graham to a Baptist or evangelical.] 30,000 member church, God has really used him in my life, by example, thousands of churches have come out of his church. His probably will be one of those names, if the Church Age continues much longer, he’ll go down in Church history, probably as one of those names. But anyway the story goes that Andy one day got a call from Chuck and Chuck was asking him to meet him, had never met him physically before, talked to him on the phone, but asked him to meet him at a conference in New York, in the Finger Lakes area. And I don’t remember the reasons as to why, but Andy decided not to go, and instead sent his wife. And I’m like thinking, ‘You know, if Chuck Smith invited me, man, I’d just like, I’d change my schedule, [me too!] you know what I mean, it doesn’t matter what it is, I wouldn’t even come here on Sunday morning, I mean, you guys are important, but I would [loud laughter] go there. If he invited me to breakfast, man, I’m there, you know what I’m saying? I’d get on the plane and I’ll go. But it’s like that when you’re invited to things and there are people who you think are important, it’s special. You feel special being there. And I start with that, because of where we’re going to look this morning. The truth is, is there’s of course somebody very special, very important who has put out invitations to mankind, the event, the opportunity, the place, there’s nothing like it, it’s the greatest event of all events, with the greatest group of people you can be with, and especially the greatest of all, God himself. There’s nothing like it. And maybe you’ve had those experiences where also you have set up something that’s important to you, and you put out the invites, and you’re wondering whose going to come. I this last Christmas, somebody in our church invited a bunch of friends and relatives, and some of the leaders and folks in the church, and had decided he just wanted to give a dinner, and just celebrate the holiday, and there were a lot of people, a couple hundred that were there. I love going to those kinds of things, of course, free food, you know. You go, and you just enjoy and fellowship. But I’m sure, arranging it and sending out the invitations, there’s always that question ‘Whose going to come and whose not going to come?’. You know, you do that. I do weddings, and I’ll tell a young couple that have sent out hundreds of invitations, I’ll warn them, ‘Don’t feel rejected or dejected if there’s just a hundred people that come.’ ‘You’ve invited a thousand, but I’ve watched it happen a lot of times, you know, people, their lives are busy, they have reasons for not coming, and so don’t feel bad, it happens a lot.’ But here’s the deal. God has sent out invitations, and we’re going to look at that, to what has got to be the greatest thing to be part of. It is the greatest thing to be part of. And as we will see, I can’t understand why people would not receive [accept] the invitation, would have another excuse for not going. But the reality is, as we go on, lots of people have things in their lives and reasons in their lives where they’ve decided they’re too busy, other priorities are too important, where they’ve chosen not to R.S.V.P., and we’re reminded of that as we go through this passage. Maybe you’re here today, and God is just going to knock on the door of your heart too, in a sense, invite you again, and say, ‘Listen, man, I’m calling you, I’m calling you, the call goes out to you.’ I can’t understand why people wouldn’t respond. But we’re going to read about the human heart, and be reminded why many times people don’t respond. Let’s say a word of prayer, and we’ll pick up with chapter 22, verse 1. ‘Lord I thank you for your Word, I thank you that we can gather here on a Sunday morning once more, and thanks for people who love you and love your Word, that weather doesn’t stop them, they come anyway. Thanks too, I know some can’t come because of things, and they’re able to tune in, in other ways, Internet and radio. So just thanks for this privilege, Lord, that you’ve given to us here at this church. We pray Lord that you’d bless this time. You always do. We ask that you’d place your Holy Spirit upon us, and that you’d speak to each and every one of us, Lord, meeting us right where we’re at, right where our minds and hearts and needs are. And just lead, I pray as a result every one of us would grow in grace, of going through your Word, and just grow in greater expectation of what is ahead of us in Christ. But also, Lord, I do pray, maybe there are some that do not yet know Christ. And use this, use this to powerfully speak and minister to their hearts. So be upon all of us, with the Holy Spirit, and upon even myself now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, amen.’
Parable of the Wedding Feast---Whose going to be there?
Chapter 22, starting with verse 1. “And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to his servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen’” (verses 1-14). Now, Jesus as he’s done multiple times up to this point, he shares truths again through using parables, a way of depicting truth to catch our attention, gives a story to just draw out a certain truth. He shares again about the kingdom of heaven. And we’ve seen quite a few times thus far, chapter 7 he shared seven parables about the kingdom of heaven. This I count as the 12th time. The 9th time, where he actually uses that very statement “the kingdom of heaven is like”, and then he goes on with the parable. It’s very clear, it can’t be denied, that it is important to Christ, it is important to God that you and I have a good understanding about the kingdom of heaven, about the kingdom of God, that we have a good grasp of it, a better appreciation of it, a certain expectation for it. It’s important to him. Not only is it important to him that we have a grasp of that, but also that we understand whose going to be in the kingdom of heaven. Who are those that are going to be in the kingdom of God? And then, how do we get there? It’s repeated, over and over in these parables. It is important to him, he wants folks to be with him in the kingdom of heaven, and so, he wants us to understand what’s waiting just a little bit into the future. And so he shares these parables. We have noted before, that the kingdom of heaven includes the here and now too. It includes where Christ is ruling and reigning now in the hearts of men. [Comment: And some take this term “in the hearts of men” in a syrupy, sentimental way because of the way people have used and applied that term. But what it really refers to is the sanctification process God begins in all believers when he calls them, expressed in the terms of the New Covenant as stated in Jeremiah 31:31-34, and Hebrews 8:6-13, where God states the terms of the New Covenant as such that he will “write his laws in the hearts and minds” of those he calls, by way of the Holy Spirit he places within those he calls, cf. John 14. Grace oriented churches use this language, and although I love them dearly, I hate the language, because it has taken on a wrong connotation, which has been used to express a wrong idea about what grace and sanctification in the Lord are. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm for clarification.] His kingdom is there in that sense. But of course especially speaking of the future, and speaking of the Messianic Kingdom. Now this parable, fortunately, is one of those that, boy you look at different theologians who try to interpret it, and you find that pretty much everybody comes to the same conclusion. It seems pretty straight forward. Some of them, we’ve noted, a little harder than others to get to the meaning, but this seems to be straight forward. So this parable, well what does it mean? Well we start with just what is being represented here. We have a king, and the king represents God. That’s pretty easy to determine. Then we have this king having this marriage, a marriage supper, really a marriage banquet. And that Greek word where it says “marriage” or “wedding”, that Greek word that is used there, it refers to, it often refers to “all the festivities that went with the marriage banquet and ceremony.” And in this culture during Christ’s day, you may remember, that was a big deal, and it was a drawn out thing, it was usually last several days [often seven days or more in Jewish culture at that time]. You might remember in Judges, Samson, the seven-day feast that went on there, and on the seventh day the little situation that he had. And it’s like that. And so probably when he says this, it draws out certain understandings in his culture at the time. [Comment: The actual heavenly wedding feast just before the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ has been pretty clearly described in a study paper just put up on this site, at http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Pentecost-Revetion1.htm . Be sure to read it, it’s both a fascinating and exciting paper on this subject.] Now the wedding banquet, the marriage represents ultimately salvation, and all the blessings that go with salvation [i.e. he means eternal life, by the word “salvation”], in the kingdom of heaven and being with God.
The King, God the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ, the servants, the Prophets and the Church
Verses 2-3a, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding…” There’s the king, there’s this wedding banquet, the wedding banquet is for his son, the son represents his Son, God’s Son, Jesus Christ. There are also these servants, this king sends out these servants, and the servants represent ultimately, the Holy Spirit, they go out with the call, the invitation, and that is ultimately the Holy Spirit working through God’s servant’s, his instruments, initially the Prophets culminating in John the Baptist, and then Jesus himself, the Holy Spirit communicating through him as he is right now, and then the Church Age, after Pentecost, the Holy Spirit using the Church as an instrument [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index4.htm]. So the servants representing that.
The First Group of Invited Guests
Verses 2-7, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” Then we have the first group of invited guests, the first group as we’ve been seeing, Jesus is especially bringing this point forth, it is the Jewish nation. We went back to the fig tree, and he cursed the fig tree, there was no fruit on the fig tree, there should have been fruit on the fig tree, in the sense of what he was saying in the nation of Judah, they’ve been given so much, there should have been an abundance of spiritual fruit, but there wasn’t any fruit, it was a essentially a dead religion. And from there he then is in confrontation with the religious leaders. And you may remember, but this is the last week, we’re at about Tuesday if you use the Traditional Calendar, Friday he’s going to be crucified [but I use the Hebrew calendar and timing for this, which makes it Sunday, Jesus having his personal Passover meal with his disciples on Tuesday evening of the 13th/14th Nisan, dying on Passover day, Wednesday Nisan 14th, 30AD, and three days and three nights later, being resurrected at the end of the Sabbath, 17th Nisan, 30AD, and his empty tomb being found early that next morning, Sunday Nisan 18, 30AD, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/lamb/lastsix.htm for a detailed study on this subject]. We’re a few days from his going to the cross. He told his disciples on the way to Jerusalem, he says ‘I’m going to go there, I’m going to be betrayed into the hands of the religious leaders, they’re going to condemn me, they’re going to turn me over to the Romans, the Romans are going to kill me, even crucify me.’ And now we see it being played out on this particular Tuesday [Sunday, 30AD], he’s already done things that, even in the past, but he’s done things like cleansing the Temple, that these religious leaders are having a real hard time with. But now on this particular day, again we’re working towards chapter 23, but its as if he’s setting it up, but there is a growing confrontation with the religious leaders. It’s eventually going to be played out in chapter 23, where he rebukes them. And so the hostility and intensity of the day just grows. And it’s laying the groundwork for when he is going to be betrayed by Judas. And the religious leaders are not going to waste a moment to come and take him, and then to condemn him, even before morning-time, and have him on the cross by 9 o’clock in the morning. I mean, they want to crucify him. So, he has then confronted their dead spirituality. He has just been relentless. They’ve misrepresented him, they don’t even know him, in their spiritual pride they think they’ve got it all dialed in. [And I see this in the various parts of the Body of Christ, each part possessing some of the spiritual truth of the Bible, but not having all the complete understanding, and I see this pride of place, where each part thinks they’ve got it all. It’s disgusting. It’s the same identical type of religious pride, although many of these folk do have the Holy Spirit, just need to humble themselves and learn a thing or two.] And so he talked about the parable of the Vinedressers and just the way they have been when it comes to his work, his vineyard, and the rejection that’s going to come to them, because they’ve rejected him, and rejected ultimately God. And that just follows in this parable too, it’s just reinforcing these things. So you have this first group of invited guests, representing the Jewish nation and their response to the invitation.
The Second Group of Invited Guests---the Church
Verses 8-10, “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.” And then you have this second group of invited guests, which is the Church [Body of Christ], and we saw that before in the last parable, that the first group up to this point in time is the Jewish nation. Later it’s going to change. We’re told in the Bible that later the whole nation of Israel is going to wake up and see the Messiah, see Christ for who he is (cf. Zechariah 12:10-14). But the rejection, and then with that, even in the last chapter, chapter 21, verse 43, speaking to them just a moment ago he had said to them, Jewish nation, religious leaders, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of its own.” And now we see the same pattern, the second group in this parable of the wedding feast, the second group are these folks in the highways and byways, representing the Church. Because the first group rejected, now he goes to the next group. So, we have this marriage banquet, invitations being sent out, people being called to come and partake.
Eternal Life Through the Wedding Feast
And it’s a marriage banquet for his son. In the Bible you see this principle, that of God preparing in that way. And I like that, that the kingdom of heaven is depicted that way, I like that as it being depicted as a marriage banquet, there are just beautiful experiences and neat times. Thinking ahead to Revelation chapter 19, verses 7 to 9, this is ultimately the marriage supper of the Lamb that’s being portrayed here in Matthew 22, the marriage supper of the Lamb, this is the future. “Let us be glad and rejoice and give him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” So the call. That’s what we’re seeing here, to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And it’s depicted as a meal, and that’s OK by me. You know, that’s probably a gender thing, although I think all of us, I think women like chocolate and guys like steak, we like food. Right? But that’s ok, I don’t mind that it’s a meal. You know, yesterday, I was with some leaders, we went to the next State over, I go up generally with a group of men each January to a Retreat Center up there, and for a couple days we just kind of seek God, just kind of get our hearts prepared for the year, and maybe the Lord may just put something on our hearts, maybe he’d say something to us. So we also fast, and you know, fasting, I don’t do it a lot, but I do it at certain times. I find for me it just helps me to get focused, that’s why I do it, it helps me to focus, helps me to be serious just about wanting to just be with the Lord and to hear him. That’s why I do it. I don’t try to do it to get his favor, I try to do it just to prepare my heart. Well we had been fasting, and you know, if you’ve ever fasted, and we don’t fast for long, it doesn’t take long, but you’ve got some guys who are really hungry, man. We are hungry. And at the end of this deal, man, we are thinking about food, that’s all we are thinking about. I could tell, they’re not too spiritual at the end, we’ll just get through the prayer, we’ll leave, because we know what we want to do at this point, we want to eat, we are hungry. And so the last morning goes pretty quick, we don’t even drive, maybe a mile, we go to the nearest restaurant, we get breakfast, that’s what we do each time. We sit down and order breakfast, I’m looking for snacks before the meal, but with breakfast there’s nothing that you can get early, you’ve got to wait for them to cook an omelet. But I’m so hungry I want to order everything on the menu, you know. And I had been on this diet, I did it strictly, I started last April, my cholesterol for the third year in a row was above 300, and somebody, a pastor in California gave me a diet, and I did it strictly for four months, and my cholesterol went from 340 to 205, I was stoked. Strict diet though. But you know when you’re successful in a diet, you know what you do, is you then moderate. So I have been moderating for quite awhile, and I just continue to moderate and moderate and moderate, and I wonder now where my cholesterol is. Last few days in the last week, and I’m being convicted, so I’m going to get back on my diet again. And so I fasted, and boy the temptation. So we’re in the restaurant, I stick to my diet, and so then we’re on the road, Jim and I driving back, and we stop at a gas station, and there my car is being filled up, and he’s getting coffee and it’s taking awhile, and I’m standing at the counter too long. [laughter] But at that counter are all these candy bars, man, they’re just sitting there, and I’m standing there, man, and I’m looking at them, even though I ate to the max at the restaurant, now I’m standing there, I still have the mentality, I just want to eat. I gave in and I bought one of those whatdoyoucallits [laughter], and it wasn’t very good, and then I felt guilty. But food, you know, I like that fact that having this described as food [a banquet]. The point is, we’re given different things, as he’s showing us and picturing it in different ways. The kingdom of heaven, man, you’re going to want to be there because of what it is, such a wonderful, such a fulfilling, such a beautiful place to be, man it’s what life is all about. We’re made to be there, it’ll be so fulfilling, it’ll never be boring, never be humdrum, it’ll always be abundant when we’re in the literal kingdom of heaven. And so he uses these types of things to describe the place. Well the invitations go out, most incredible place, opportunity. [Comment: Few realize that much of the Kingdom of God will initially revolve around living and ruling with Jesus Christ over the entire earth for over 1,000 years, and then God the Father’s very throne, as part of the New Jerusalem, will ultimately be Headquartered right here on old planet earth, part of our Sol System. For more on this, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Revelation%20%2021-22.htm]
Rejecting the Invitation
Verses 3-7, “…and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” And as you see here, the calls go out through his servants. Again, the servants. Ultimately that is the picture of the Holy Spirit, because that is what the Holy Spirit’s job and role is, to come and to call, and to prick hearts and minds, to call people to the Lord, and to convict and move hearts. But again, working through his instruments, the Prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, and then eventually the Church [Body of Christ]. Now some people, looking at this parable, and this is common, and it’s very possible, what is seen here, when I look at it, I see initially with the nation of Israel, I see the whole time, God calling, God working with the nation of Israel, in the different stages [and that would be when they were at first one nation with 12 tribes, and then broken into two separate nations, called the House of Israel with 10 tribes, and the House of Judah with 3 tribes (Levi, Benjamin and Judah, Levi not counted as part of the 12). To see a good section of this history of God working with those two nations, log onto and read http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/1.html and read through that whole six part series.], starting with the early prophets. But many see especially here, for various reasons, because we know we are just a short time from Pentecost, you’ve got a few days until Jesus is crucified, he then rises from the dead, and then it’s only 50 days until Pentecost, which is a very unique time---where the Holy Spirit comes in a very unique way. We’re in that time now, the Age of the Church [which stretches from Pentecost 30AD to the present, so far. The Age of the Church goes from that Pentecost 30AD to the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ, and then ends. Then comes the age of the Millennial Kingdom of God, a totally different age]. And so many people see especially here this parable representing the age where the Holy Spirit is about to come in a special way. And how is the nation of Israel [Judah, at this time, Israel is long gone, historically lost from view, but still out there somewhere] going to respond? When John the Baptist came he came in the name of the Father, and they rejected in a sense, the religious leaders, rejected John the Baptist, a rejection of the Father. And now the Son is there, and they’re rejecting the Son. And in a moment, in a short time, the Holy Spirit is going to be, in a special way, the Comforter is going to come when Jesus leaves. And if you study the Book of Acts, which is Pentecost and the beginning of the Church, the first six or seven chapters, the invitation is only to the nation of Israel [Judah], to the Jews. And there is no doubt a rejection, there’s a rejection of the Spirit in that sense. So you have the rejection of the Father, you have the rejection of the Son, and you have the rejection of the Spirit. And earlier he spoke of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, he spoke of the one sin that we cannot be forgiven of, there’s only one sin. And I believe the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is to reject God, it’s to reject the Spirit, it’s to reject the Spirit over and over and over again, God comes and he knocks and he knocks and he knocks, and God shows and he demonstrates, there’s not excuse, and we reject him. And eventually the heart is so hard, you blaspheme the Holy Spirit. ‘So alright, you’re on your own. I won’t knock on your door anymore.’ And that’s the only sin you can’t be forgiven of, because you don’t have Christ, you can’t be forgiven of your sin. It’s in Christ that all my sins are forgiven. And if I reject the Spirit, I reject Christ, I don’t have the means of forgiveness of sin. And that’s what’s being depicted here, is ultimately, that final rejection. And we know, that it’s only 40 years from now, in an amazing way that Judah is destroyed by the Romans [and destroyed totally as a nation in 133-135AD during the Bar Kochba Revolt]. I wonder if there are present right now, and I’m sure there are, there are religious leaders hearing Jesus saying what he is saying. And maybe I’m sure some of them are younger, some of the Sadducees, scribes and Pharisees, you know, maybe they’re 25, 30, who will be alive in 40 years. And they will see in forty years, some of them that are present right now, will see the Romans come, surround Jerusalem, and see that city destroyed, maybe many of them will die. Because we know from the historian Josephus, so many, hundreds of thousands of Jews died, 40 years from now the nation was destroyed, disappeared until 1948. So, that sense of blaspheming the Holy Spirit and rejecting God. And then you see that in this. And maybe you’re here today and God is been seeking, the invitation has been coming to you, man, he loves you and he’s just tugging on your heart, tugging on your heart. You’ve got a spouse, you’ve got a parent, you’ve got a child, you’ve got a neighbor that’s just always sharing the Gospel with you, you’ve been in church-life, but you’ve never yielded your heart to God. You’ve never received Christ into your life. It’s dangerous to continue to reject God. It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s dangerous to continue to reject him, and just put him off and put him off and put him off. Because every time you do, your heart gets a little bit harder. And you’re in danger of eventually getting to that point of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
We as the Body of Christ are to take the Invitation---the Gospel---to the world
Verses 8-10, “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.” Well, the call goes out through the Holy Spirit, through his instruments, through the servants, and we look then of that and we think of us today, that’s the same deal happening, the Church Age. I mean, we are instruments in the hands of God, as believers. We are the Church [collectively, as the Body of Christ], and we are given the Great Commission, we are to go out with the invitation, going ‘Hey, hey, here you go.’ [cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 1:6-8, http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/1.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm] ‘You’re invited, you’re invited, you’re invited.’ That’s part of our life. You know, I was with the guys earlier when we were meeting up in the state next to ours, couple of the guys got there earlier, and I usually go a day before everybody else, and I spend some time alone, and the other leaders come up. And so a couple of us are together, initially. And we were talking about Radio, because these guys are involved with the Radio, and I had been alone a little bit and thinking about certain things, ‘And boy, we’re just a couple months away from being on the Air and what’s the vision, what are we going to do?’ Up to this point we have run our local AM station, and this station is a station we’ve had a lot of freedom with, it’s a blessing, but it’s owned by Calvary Satellite Network, and so we have a certain program that we follow because it’s theirs. But now we have at least one station, we’ll probably end up with a couple that will just be ours. And what are we going to do? And I felt God just saying, ‘Beware of the old wineskin, that you don’t copy and do what somebody else does, but that you’re fresh and that you’re led.’ And I got excited and I was thinking about the opportunity, and how would you want to reach the people in this state? What do you want to do with the people who live in this state?’ So, a couple of these guys are here in this retreat center with me, and we’re discussing the vision, and trying to put it into words, and I’m not going to share all of it with you now, because we have a little bit more work to do, but basically what we want to share with folks that maybe will come and check out a website or come and listen, is that we are passionate about God. We are passionate about him, and because we are passionate about him, we seek him and we want to make him known. And because we are passionate about him, we’re passionate about people…[tape switchover, some text lost]…I would ask you again, I probably have asked in the last two and a half years, you guys to pray a thousand times, about the Radio, but I’d ask that you would. You know, I mentioned to you just a little while ago, couple weeks ago, especially the first service, about some of the challenges. Well we’re moving ahead with the station on the peninsula, we’ve got an antenna ordered, antenna being tested, we’ve been asked to send the rest of the money, so now we’re just kind of praying by faith, so they can order a lot of equipment, it’s a lot of money. And we have to get it in before April 2nd, and obviously well before then, so we can build it and get it on the air. And it has to be on the air by April 2nd. [Which it was, and is now a regular Christian Radio station there.] Well anyway, I had mentioned that about the CSN stations, there’s one in a town near us, and one on the north coast of our state too that have to be built real soon, and we tried to work things to try to get those stations going, and for various reasons it wasn’t happening. But last week, last week things started to move. CSN has decided to go ahead with the building of the north coast station, which is massive, 21,000 watts, and with the local station near us, which has to be on the air by June…right next to us…So I would ask you to pray because now we’re in the midst of trying to build three stations, because of course we’re the CSN representatives here too. So we’re talking with tower companies in all these locations…you know, God always waits to the last minute, it’s always impossible, and it’s always crazy, and he gets all the glory, that’s why he does it that way. So, be praying. [Wow, finally I know why God waits to the last minute to answer prayer in a situation where he’s promised to do something, or in an area he’s working in, but where solutions, and things are dragging their feet. Never had the answer before. Thanks, pastor!] But it is very possible, by April 2nd, we will have three radio stations broadcasting on the air. One that will cover a ton of people on the south shore, and then by June we’ll have four. So, please be praying. And there’s more to come, right after that. When the south shore one gets on the air, there’s two in the state next door that cover that city really well. If we get the peninsula one on the air, there’s a couple more in that region, and you guys know about the station in the other town next to us. I could keep going on, but I’m not. I tell you what, man, these are like the best way, one of the best, wonderful ways to get out the invitation, man, and to get out the Gospel in this late hour, in this world. And who knows, we might have the actual privilege, and we’ll be on our face, and we’ll be fearful in doing it, that God would even use us to do that, in getting out his message. God lead us, and God may we be faithful and may we trust you. I believe the Lord’s going to do it…Well, the call goes out through the servants, and then you see the first call, as we’ve noted, it goes to the nation of Israel, there, verse 3 and 4, and then following, it goes to the nation of Judah. That is what’s being pictured here.
Why didn’t Israel and Judah answer the call, the Invitation?
Verses 3-7, “...and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” Now in this culture, it’s possible as they were hearing these things, that they would also know things that we wouldn’t, it was typical in the culture that you would be given, lets say a wedding banquet, you would be given an invitation long before. And then you would respond, and you would say ‘Yes I am coming.’ And then, just before, you would get two more invitations. But you’ve now responded, you’ve said you are coming, so just before, you’d get an invitation, and then right at the hour, when the meal is ready and the banquet is ready, you’d get that last invitation. And it is very possible, it’s being alluded to, understood by the audience, but he says he puts the call to the invited guests, meaning these are guests that already some period of time before, had an invitation and responded and said ‘Yes, we’re coming.’ And that would be representative of the nation of Israel, in the sense that they’ve made the promise. We talked about that. There was the promise, but there wasn’t really necessarily the performance, the lifestyle. And the nation of Israel, historically, I mean, multiple times they’ve stood, in a sense, renewed the covenant before God, saying, ‘We are your people, we will follow you.’ And yet, overall, we see that, overall as a nation, they haven’t, and it’s been all verbal words, but it hasn’t been of the heart. And that would maybe be understood by the audience. Well the call went first to the nation of Israel, it’s now time for the banquet, so the invitation goes out again, as you see there, in verse 3. And then Jesus shows that, by and large the nation of Israel, the call went out, but they rejected the call, the invitation, they didn’t want to come. And so he says the first group there, that went out, they were not willing to come. NIV says “they refused to come,” just not willing. We’ve already noted that in previous parables, not willing. Jesus said that in chapter 21, verses 31 and 32, that ‘You saw all these things, you saw God even working with the harlots and the downcast, and their lives being changed, you saw the proof of the power of God, and yet you still rejected, you weren’t willing to come. And that’s what’s being said here too, the call went out and they were not willing. Not because they didn’t have the evidence, not because they didn’t have all they needed to make the decision, but they were not willing just because of their own hearts, they were not willing. Other things were more important. So, verse 4, now it’s dinner-time, it’s banquet time, the servants are sent out again, ‘My dinner is prepared.’ Now when it says “dinner” there, the Greek word may actually more indicate, you know, you think dinner, I think supper-time, I think 6 or 7pm, and it’s probably more like, the Greek word that would be for the late evening meal is not being used here. It’s more-so the word that is used for what would be the meal at noontime, like the brunch. And so the meal is ready, and the call goes out, and he says then, ‘I’ve prepared my dinner, my oxen, my fatted cattle are killed, and everything’s ready, so come now to the wedding, come now, it’s time. The word goes out. Well, you see there, not only are they not willing, it says they’ve got better things to do, so they don’t come. Now, in the Old Testament, God gave these same types of pictures, the nation of Israel. Isaiah chapter 25, verse 6, God said that ‘in this mountain,’ right here in the midst of the nation, ‘the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the leas, fat things full of marrow, well-refined wines on the leas,’ beautiful, that sounds like a fancy meal, I wouldn’t miss it. But he says, ‘Right here, this feast for my people.’ And so now, Jesus sharing, ‘It’s prepared, the oxen, the fatted cattle’, I mean, that sounds pretty good to me too, ‘Come to the wedding, come to the wedding.’ But as you see there, they say, basically, ‘We have better things to do.’ ‘Hey, I got my farm, man, I’ve got to go do that, I’ve got the business, I’ve got my merchandise, I’m starting my business plant, and I’m sorry.’ They make light of it. And this is honestly the King. Interesting, in that culture, it could be seen as insubordination to reject a king in a situation like that. You can understand that, it’s the king. ‘Ah, I’ve got things to do.’ Well, they are too busy, they’ve got more important things to do. And isn’t that the heart of man? Come on, we see that throughout history. God just putting out the invitation, and people so frequently have better things to do. ‘My business, I’ve got this business I’m trying to do, church, and church life, I don’t have time.’ Or, ‘I’ve got kids, I’ve got family, we’ve got sports, I don’t have time, just not now, I’ve got other things.’ Same kind of thing, it just goes on and on and on, with the heart of man. And that’s what he’s depicting here. Earlier in Luke chapter 14, Jesus shared a similar parable, and sometimes when Jesus says similar things, clearly he says it earlier, and it’s a little different, similar but different. Some theologians, supposed theologians will say, compare the two, and say, ‘Well one of them borrowed from that, changed it to fit his thing’, and you look at them, they’re different times. The first time, Luke chapter 14 it was earlier, specifically he was in a ruler’s house, a Pharisees’ house eating bread on the Sabbath. There were religious leaders there, they were watching him closely as they were. And he decides on the Sabbath to heal a man who has dropsy, you may remember back in Luke 14. Well, then as he heals this man with dropsy, he then shares, these guys think they’re a big deal, they’ve gathered in this house, they’ve taken the important seats, and he says to them, he shares this parable of a wedding feast, how when you come, you should take the lowly seat, it’s wise to take the lowly seat. And then he goes on to say, ‘Hey, you guys have invited your best friends, and people you’re doing a favor for, expecting that they’re going to repay you.’ He says, ‘You should invite to dinner people that are poor, and can’t repay you, and do that, and the blind and the maimed and the lame, and they can’t repay you, but God will. You’ll be blessed,’ he says, ‘and you’ll be repaid in the resurrection in the kingdom of heaven.’ Well, with that, a man at that feast, that dinner there in Luke 14 says, as Jesus is saying these things, he says ‘Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.’ He just says it, ‘Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God! Man, to be there, and be part of that meal.’ And then Jesus responds with a very similar parable, he speaks of a man who gave a great supper and invited many guests, servants were sent out, they say, ‘Hey, come, the meal is ready, and then in that particular time, in Luke 14, starting with verse 18, he lists excuses, excuses that people had. First one says ‘I’ve got some land, I can’t go, I need to go see the land.’ Next one, next excuse, ‘Hey, I’ve bought five yoke of oxen, new business, I’ve got to break them, got to prepare them.’ Next one says ‘I’ve married, I’ve got a wife, I can’t come, family member, more important, can’t come to your supper.’ Well then in that parable, as it is here, the one sending out the invitations, the Master, gets very angry. He then says to his servants, ‘Go out on the highways and byways, find the poor, find the blind, find the maimed and lame, you bring them.’ And the servant does, and the servant says ‘Hey, we’ve got more room.’ So the Master says ‘Go get anybody you can find, get them in there.’ And then it’s told that the house was full, and the Master says this, Luke 14, verse 24, “For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.” ‘If you’re going to be that way, you’re going to reject me, then you’re not going to have it. You’re not going to experience it.’ That’s what he says. And that’s what God is saying here, too. Jesus is saying here about the nation, the Jewish nation as a whole at this particular time, it’s going to change not too long into the future, when Christ comes again. But they have rejected, they have rejected. Not only are they saying they’re too busy, but then he gives this other sense, that they’re critical of God and his work and his servants, because there are those, verse 6, that see the servants, treats them spitefully and kills them. Of course, we noted how their dead religion was just threatened by the real work of God, so threatened and into pride, don’t want any competition, and so the criticalness. And so they go after God’s representatives, and they treat them spitefully and they kill them. And maybe you’re here today because of something that’s happened in your life. You’ve had experiences where you’re sort of like that when it comes to God. I’ve met people, and sometimes I counsel people. You bring up the word “God”, and they get pretty bent out of shape. You bring up, you know, Jesus and the Bible in their presence, and you’ll hear an earful, because they’re bitter, they’re critical. And they are because of what they experienced, they are against God. And that’s kind of like these same people here, they’re like that, they have that type of heart. So when God sent his servants to speak to them, they just killed them. Didn’t want to hear it, and were brutal with them, mistreated them. You know, if you’re here, and that is your heart, why is your heart that way? Why is that in your heart? You know, I can tell you this, that God loves you very much. And sometimes we have experiences in life that may confuse us, they hurt us, and they color things a certain way, and we miss sight of who God really is. And if you’re that way, I pray, I pray for the grace of God for you, that you would yet through your pain see God for who he really is, and that you would see that God is a God who loves you, God wants to work in your life, and that you would repent of that type of bitterness, and you would just turn to God. I counsel people, I tell you, it’s a hard life to have a life like that. I counsel people that are struggling in other ways in their lives, they come in and talk to me, they have all these issues, and so much of it comes to that issue of bitterness, sometimes it’s against other people, but often it includes God, because of the things that they’ve gone through. And so I take them through the story of Jacob, I take them through the story of Joseph, look at what happened to Joseph, look at what happened to Joseph, so many painful things, but look at what God did through Joseph. You don’t know what God’s doing. God’s molding you, preparing you. Well, there were within the nation of Judah people like that too. And, you know, I wonder, I wonder what some of these men were thinking 40 years later. The Holy Spirit, the Age of the Church starts right after this, and Pentecost comes, and you watch in the early part of the Book of Acts, oh man, the religious leaders. Christ is moving, the disciples are empowered, there’s so much proof that God is at work. And yet they’re so adamantly against it, they crucified Christ, now they’re taking the disciples, the arrest them, they even take Stephen and have him killed, and Stephen, even just before he dies says to them, ‘You stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit, as your fathers did, so do you.’ Well, it’s like the final rejection being depicted here, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, the nation of Judah has just blasphemed God. They rejected the Father, they rejected the Son, they rejected the Holy Spirit. Well God still is going to be faithful to his promises to Abraham, we’ll see later, because when we get to those books, we’ll see the nation of Israel will yet turn to God (cf. Zechariah 12) [But after the actual Wedding Feast has occurred!]. Well as they do these evil things, verse 7, it says the king hears about it, and he’s pretty angry, he’s furious, he’s just enraged. So he sends armies, and the Greek would mean not like a big army, but a little small troop of soldiers, army, to destroy those murderers and burn up their city. And it’s prophetic, what he’s saying to them, because the Roman armies will come soon, and we know it, and surround the city, and the nation of Judah will be judged because they continue to reject God, and they don’t receive his invitation.
The Invitation Goes to Others
Verses 8-10, “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.” He then puts the call to others, verse 8, he says to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.’ Paul later in the Book of Acts, in Antioch, he’s going around planting churches, and he went to the Jew first, and then to the Greek, to the Gentile, and he would go into the synagogues, and they would kick him out, and then he’d go to the Gentiles. And in Acts chapter 13, in Antioch he says right there, he says ‘You guys are not worthy of salvation, because the Word of God came to you, and you rejected it, so you’re not worthy of it.’ [Comment: Many people here, including this pastor, think the Gospel of Salvation from here on out went exclusively to the Gentiles. Nothing could be farther from the truth, historically speaking. The early Church was predominantly Judeo-Christian for the first 300 years, up to about 325AD. To read a well researched history of the early Church, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm. It covers this entire time-span of the Early Christian Church. It was nothing like you imagine it was.] He (the master) says, ‘Go to the highways and the byways, as many as you can find, invite to the wedding. Go to the street corners.’ The Greek word for highways would seem to suggest the main streets and the side streets coming off of it. ‘Just go out there, find the people.’ And the picture is, he’s inviting the less likely people to come to a royal wedding, you know what I mean? I mean, they’re not like the guys dressed in the fancy clothes, and fancy cars, with fancy businesses, I mean, these are like the least likely, like me and you, a lot of us. ‘Go get them, and invite them to the wedding.’ 1st Corinthians 1:26-29, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence.” And that then is what we read in the New Testament, Paul says, Romans chapter 1, verse 16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek.” So, to the Gentile, the 2nd call goes to the Gentile, and they excitedly come, as we know, the Church exploded around the world. People thought that the world had been turned upside down, as they watch. [Comment: That’s not exactly the way it happened, with Paul preaching up a storm to Gentiles only. For a factual analysis of how the Gospel went out, and to whom, going equally to the Jew and Gentile, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm. It was a more or less united thing, the Gospel going simultaneously to Jews and the Gentiles who were meeting in Jewish synagogues. The full picture of what occurred from 30AD to around 325AD is contained in that historic research paper. For almost 1700 years, Gentile pastors have had the wrong historic take on what really occurred, even though the results of what occurred are the same.] Many excitedly came, they came from the highways, they came from the byways, and it says (in the parable) the wedding hall is filled with guests, filled with guests. I think of my wife and I, our wedding, bunch of people I didn’t know there, all our family and friends, and she has a lot of them, she had a lot of people there. And then we went from our wedding to our reception, and somebody in her family had a limo business, so we got a limo ride, only time I’ve ever driven in a limo, so now we’re in the back of a limo, and our limo driver does not know where he is going, so we took a tour of the city of San Diego. Meanwhile all these guests are waiting at a church, in the hot, hot sun, hundreds of them, and so we finally get there, like an hour and a half after, and they weren’t happy [laughter], so be it, what could we do. It was our day.
The man without a Wedding Garment on
Verses 11-14, “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” So, the wedding hall was filled with guests, and the king, as it says, comes in, and he sees a man there, could you imagine, you’re a king, and all the royalty, I mean, you see the movies, maybe you’ve hung out in those kinds of places, everybody’s just dressed a certain way. This is a royal wedding. And you come in and here’s a guy, like, he’s got his grubs on, hasn’t shaved, his hair’s a mess, and ‘Hi king!’, and the king’s like, ‘What?!? You’re dressed like that?’. And the man, it says, was speechless. And we see there, as he goes on, is that those at the wedding, these people who were invited, all sorts of people, but you need the proper dress if you’re going to come to the wedding, and you don’t want to be under-dressed. And there is this man who is. So he’s taken, he’s bound hand and foot, and he’s cast out into outer darkness. I was listening to Chuck Smith on this. Chuck sometimes likes to go with the science, and he was talking about the universe, how the universe is expanding at a very great rate, and we know that the universe has an end to it. You know, if you use the Big Bang theory, there was a Big Bang and everything went out, and it keeps going out. And they estimate the universe to be billions of light years out [try trillions]. But scientists, evidently, say that, I mean it’s expanding, so there’s got to be something beyond it. And what’s beyond it is nothing. And if you could get in a ship and go that fast, and get to the end, you will get to an area where light has never ever been, and it is completely dark, outer darkness. And Jesus says, this king says, ‘Take this man, and bind him, and cast him into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ He wasn’t dressed in wedding clothes, he’s standing there in his own deal. There’s a sense of pride, irreverence, he didn’t come prepared, and he’s underdressed. And I tell you, to be underdressed at a place like that is never fun. I remember, this has happened to me a couple times, and I never like it, but I was asked to go to a conference, the National Religious Broadcasters Conference in Washington, D.C., CSN, one of the first times they were going down there, a big conference. They asked that I would work with one of the guys in the booth. And my wife is so great, she often packs for me, and it just works great, and some of you wives maybe cringe at me saying that, but she just does that, and that’s ok by me. I like it, I don’t know why, but she packs. But anyway, this one time, there was one time I didn’t [have her pack for me]. I get there, I guess I didn’t communicate to her, but she didn’t know either. I mean, this was one of those places where you really wanted to look professional I guess, because everybody, there was not a man in that whole place that was not, there were hundreds of people, in their best suits, I mean, with their Rolex’s. Everybody was trying to look hot, you know. And I did not have my suit. I felt so underdressed standing there, I just felt like I could have been naked as far as I was concerned [laughter]. That’s how I felt. It reminded me, I had this feeling, when I was a sophomore I was invited to the Prom, first Prom I went to, you know, I was a sophomore, I have no money, and so I borrowed my dad’s suit. A little bit naive, at 15 or whatever I was, 16, and here everybody’s got Tux’s on, and I’m in my dad’s brown suit [laughter]. I felt so underdressed. So when I went to my senior Prom, I’m gonna just deck out, so I rented one of those powder blue Tux’s, you know, and I just decked right out, I was ready, man. So, the proper dress, it’s really important.
What is the Proper Wedding Garment?
Now the question, what is the proper dress? What is the wedding garment? There are early Church fathers that speak of, you know, the king would provide the garment. But there isn’t necessarily a lot of evidence for that interpretation. And it would seem more so, what would happen is that you would come in your best dress, in the sense that you would come in this white attire. He wouldn’t necessarily provide it. Although I like that picture, because that is what actually happens spiritually. But you didn’t come in rags. [Comment: We’re talking about sanctification and the sanctification process here. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm. Also cf. Revelation 19:7-8.] And so what is the proper attire? Maybe you’re wondering. You’re here thinking, ‘I’m kind of getting this, and I want make sure I’m dressed properly, what is the proper attire?’ Well, the proper attire is righteousness. And here’s the deal, you and I, apart from Christ, we do not have righteousness. We’re told, Isaiah chapter 64 verses 5b-7, “You are indeed angry, for we have sinned, in these ways we continue; and we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf. And in our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities.” Paul then taking that thought, Romans chapter 3, verse 10 says, “It is written, there is none righteous, no not one.” And so the clothing, the attire is righteousness, but as a man and a woman apart from the grace of God, I do not have righteousness, I cannot try to put myself in righteousness. My good works will never cut it. I stand before God, before a consuming fire, with rags on. You don’t want to stand before God in rags, as you see here in the parable that Jesus has shared. So what is the proper attire? It’s righteousness. You know, Paul said about God, he says “there is no fellowship between righteousness and lawlessness.” I need help, I need something to happen, something outside of me to help me, and that’s Isaiah 61, verse 10, and then in the New Testament, God said “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” The way I get righteousness is God gives it to me. And it is through his Son Jesus Christ. Paul was a religious Pharisee, he was alive at this time. I wonder what he was doing at this very moment? It’s just a little bit down the road, where he’s going to come to Christ. But we know at this point in time, just before Christ was crucified, Paul wasn’t a believer. Is he here in this crowd? He was a religious zealot, he was a Pharisee, he was so into it, he is able to testify as he does in his letters, ‘I was tops when it came to trying to be righteous, I did every possible thing. If you wanted to be a good old boy, I did it, man. If you wanted to be spiritual, I was in every way.’ But then he finds he is confronted with Christ and finds out that before Christ, before God, he was filthy and in filthy rags. And he turned to Christ, received Christ. And he says in Philippians chapter 3, verse 9, looking back to his old ways, he says it’s but dung. That stuff was but dung. I mean, this guy went to town. He says ‘Now I want to be found in Christ, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.’ The attire, if you’re wondering about the attire, the attire is faith in Jesus Christ. Because when I become a Christian, I am born-again. And it’s a radical experience to be born-again. My spirit is now made alive. I’m no longer just driven by the flesh, I now have the spiritual man which is now alive, in me. And what happens is now the Spirit of God is alive and working in me, I now have this work of Christ in me, in a sense, he’s in me, Christ is in me [cf. John chapter 14, look it up and read it]. And I now have his righteousness, and that’s the attire. That’s what’s being spoken of here. So we look in the Book of Revelation, and we see the Church, “and to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Well as you see, this man is cast out. And it’s a similar pattern. It is interesting, the last parable we saw that the nation of Judah there was depicted as the vineyard workers who were just so radically against Christ and against God and his Son and his servants, they are rejected, they are destroyed. And he said then in verse 43 that the nation will be taken from them and given to a nation bearing fruits of its own, and that the new nation would also be accountable for fruit of its own. And that’s what you see here in the same parable, the new nation, the Church, is invited. But you need the wedding garment, there is accountability. There needs to be the fruit, their needs to be the life. The nation of Israel needed a change, a changed life, spiritual life. In church, there needs to be spiritual life. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm to see what that spiritual life entails. Remember though, it’s by the grace of God, the power of God, operative in our lives through the indwelling Holy Spirit which enables us to do this.] If you just come through the church door, and you just bear the Christian name, and you just bear the Christian religion, man, you’re going to find out that ‘I wasn’t dressed right.’ It is a changed life, it is a radical life, it is to be born-again [cf. John 3, read it], and have the Spirit of God in you, and you are then in the righteousness of Christ. God expects the life. He didn’t see the life in Israel [Judah], and so now he expects it, in the same way with his people in the Church. Well with that, as we come to the end, he says “For many are called, but few are chosen.” You know, you think of that word “chosen”, the invitation goes out, and it goes out. But you think of that word “chosen”, you think, well, “chosen”, sovereignty of God, right, “chosen”, few are chosen, a lot are called, but only a few are picked. But if you notice in the parable, who was picked? Those who are picked are those that are changed, those that are picked [“chosen”] are those that have received the invitation, those that were picked are the one’s of faith. And so I think you see consistently in the Scripture, you see God picking, God choosing, the sovereignty of God, but there is a choice that man has to make. But to be chosen man, to be there in the wedding banquet, Revelation chapter 19, verse 7, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.” Then verse 9 of chapter 19, “Then he said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” Blessed, happy are those. Let’s close in prayer…[connective expository sermon on Matthew 22:1-14, given somewhere in New England]
What is the “Wedding Invitation”?
How do God’s servants deliver the Wedding Invitation?
Putting on the Wedding Garment, living the life of Christ:
http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm (read this intro)
The Wedding Feast pictured in prophecy, as it will actually occur:
(and the honeymoon):
History of the early Church, original recipients of the Wedding Invitation:
Who is Chuck Smith?