Sermon on Matthew 22:1-10
Text: 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.”
One of the happiest occasions in a person’s life is the day that they get married. Because it is a special day, you invite friends and relatives to share your day. You are happy to see them, especially if you haven’t seen them for some time. You can also be disappointed if they don’t show up. However, think how disappointed you would be to find out that they could have attended, but they just didn’t feel like it. They really didn’t have an excuse. They just didn’t want to be there. You might think that this shows exactly how they feel about you. God uses the picture of a wedding feast many times in the Bible. This morning as we study God’s Word, we are reminded that THE WEDDING HALL WILL BE FILLED. 1. We’ve Been Invited To A Beautiful Banquet. 2. Many People Refuse The Invitation. 3. The King Still Calls.
Prior to our text, Jesus had spoken some very harsh words to the Jewish leaders. He told them that, despite the many advantages Israel had, they would be taken away and given to the Gentiles. He told them that their religion was just for show, and only those who believed in him would be saved. This angered these officials. As a matter of fact, in the last verse of the previous chapter, we read, “They looked for a way to arrest him.” (Matthew 21:46) They wanted to put an end to this man. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, told another parable. By means of this parable, Jesus was warning them about the consequences if they would continue to rejct him.
Jesus began by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come.” (Verses 2&3) We hear the invitation in verse 4, “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.” This was a common practice of the day. When a king would have a banquet, he would send his servants out to tell those who were invited that all was ready. They were to come and enjoy the festivities. This was no small affair, either. Many animals had been butchered. You can well imagine that, at this wedding feast, nothing but the best was served. The tables would be heaping full of food. All the invitees had to do was to come and enjoy it.
The meaning of this parable is quite clear. The king is God. He has prepared a great feast. However, rather than the best of foods or the choicest of wines, at this banquet he offers the many blessings that he has. Often, when the Bible talks about a wedding feat, it is a picture of heaven. God has prepared heaven for all people. As we read in 1 Timothy 2:4, “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” There are many other blessings that God has to offer, such as the ability to come to him in prayer and the knowledge that God has a purpose for your life. All of this is waiting for us.
God invites us to come and enjoy ourselves at his banquet of blessings. He invites us through his holy Word. We hear words of Jesus, such as we find in Mathew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The Holy Spirit works through the Word to invite us and the entire world to come and enjoy all the blessings that God offers. God continues to use servants to carry the invitation to all people.
Surely no one would even think about turning down such an invitation! You would think that that would be true of the invitation to the king’s wedding feat. However, look at the different reactions to this invitation: “they paid no attention and went off — one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.” (Verses 5&6) We are shocked to hear this. Rather than going and enjoying themselves and filling themselves with the best, they ignored the invitation and went about their daily tasks. Some went even further than that and mistreated the king’s servants before they killed them. Rather than looking at the invitation as an honor and privilege, they looked at it as a nuisance and bother. Instead of accepting the invitation, they showed their disdain for the king and rejected it.
Jesus pointed this parable at the Jewish leaders. They had been given God’s gracious invitation to be the chosen people. They had the privilege of having the Savior coming from them. Yet, over the years, they had ignored God’s words and had even killed some of the people that God had sent to proclaim his Word. Those that were not killed were mistreated by them. Here the warning comes in: The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” (Verse 7) Jesus shows them what would happen to those who rejected God’s invitation. This would occur 30 years after Jesus ascended into heaven. The Roman army came and destroyed Jerusalem. Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:2) It happened just as Jesus said it would.
This destruction also points ahead to the final destruction of those who reject God’s invitation to come to his feast. Those who refuse will spend their eternity in hell because of their rejection of God and his Word. Just like those people in Jesus’ parable who ignored and rejected the king’s invitation, those who refuse to listen to God’s invitation or try to find some other way into the heavenly banquet, their end will be one of everlasting anguish and pain in hell.
There are many who refuse to accept Jesus’ gracious invitation to come and enjoy his blessings. There are not many who actually kill God’s messengers, though it can happen. No, the rejection today often comes in the other forms of indifference and earthly pursuits. So many people are just too busy to think about religion right now. There are so many things to do. There are all the projects that have been put off during the rest of the week. They get so busy making sure that all these things get done that Jesus’ invitation takes a back seat. Maybe we can see ourselves doing this at times.
There is also indifference to Jesus’ invitation. You can take it or leave it. So, what if I didn’t take the opportunity to learn or hear God’s Word today. There’s always tomorrow or the next day or next week or next year. Or it may be that we go through all the right motions, say all the right things, but we don’t really make it a part of our lives. We can act like God’s invitation means something to us for one or two hours of the week and the rest of the time we live as we please. This is a very dangerous way to live, for God’s gracious invitation may be withdrawn.
We also need to heed God’s warning that is given in this parable. We, too, have received God’s invitation to come to the banquet to partake of all the blessings that are offered there. However, just as happened to the Jews, that invitation is withdrawn, and we spend our eternity wishing we had taken the opportunity to go to the banquet.
The king, as he looked into the banquet hall, saw all of those empty seats. So, he called his servants and said, “Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” (Verse 9) “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.” (Verse 10) The king wanted many people to join in the celebration. In the end, the hall was filled with guests, even though those who were originally invited were not there.
The Jews realized that Jesus was telling them that, although they had been God’s chosen people, that privilege would be taken away and given to others. God wants people to join him. He will not force anyone into heaven. He invites and those who accept that invitation enjoy the blessings of heaven.
God continues to call out with the invitation to partake of this banquet. We are unable to accept this invitation on our own. Our sin-stained lives would have prevented us from attending that banquet. However, God, in his amazing grace sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to shed his blood for us on the cross. And, as it says in 1 John 1:7, “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” We have been washed clean in Jesus’ blood. Jesus’ resurrection proves that. Yet, we still would not have been able to accept that invitation if the holy Spirit had not created faith in our hearts. Since we have been born again, we can say, “Yes, I want to attend the banquet. I want to be in heaven. All of this has been done for us by God. We do not do anything. This heavenly banquet is waiting for us. God continues to extend his invitation for others to come and enjoy the banquet. Come and enjoy heaven.
It is often a custom to include an RSVP card with a wedding invitation. The purpose of the card is to let the bride and groom know if you plan to attend. God sends us an invitation to enjoy his heavenly banquet. God wants us to spend our eternity with him in heaven. It is sad that so many people refuse this invitation though a preoccupation with earthly things or ignore the invitation altogether. How thankful we are that others, including ourselves, have accepted this gracious invitation. We mark our RSVP cards indicating that we will be there. Amen.
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