Trinity 20 2018
October 14, 2018
Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID
Who is getting married? This looks like a wedding bulletin today. And it is. Jesus speaks of the parable of the wedding feast. Our Lord took human nature into the unity of His Person. He married humanity. It is to this wedding that God the Father has called us. It is for us that this wedding has been arranged.
Now, the Kingdom of God is like a King who throws a feast for His Son. The Kingdom of God is not like a party. It is like a King who is generous. He invites many, but they do not respond to the invitation. And so the King sends more servants to tell them that everything is ready for them. But they don’t want to come, being too busy with the things of this world Inexplicably, they refuse to come to the banquet prepared for them. In a sense, this shows the power of unbelief. The King doesn’t force them to come. God doesn’t force people into the Kingdom of heaven. The invitation is sent, God sends His preachers to announce it has arrived in Christ, but people can, and do, reject it.
While the King is generous, His patience knows limits. He grows angry at those who disrespect Him. He enacts vengeance and destroys cities. Some of those invited to the feast ignore the second invitation. Others greet these messengers with violence. And so they are no longer welcome.
The point is that not everyone goes to heaven. Jesus is no universalist. The sinfulness of humanity deserves death and hell. The righteousness of Christ and entrance into the Kingdom of God are offered to all. Some, such as the majority of the Jews of Jesus’ time, simply reject the invitation out of hand. They can’t be bothered. They are too busy with the things of this world. They have to go off to their fields or their business, or they are angry and malicious and kill the servants, the Old Testament prophets, for even asking them to come. And so the King enacts justice. He raises an army and destroys cities. The God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah over their sinfulness, also destroyed Jerusalem over their rejection of His Son using the Romans in the year 70 to enact His wrath against those who rejected Him.
Even so, the wedding feast is ready and the King desires people to come. And so He invites others, all others, even those who do not deserve it. God does all the work, provides all the grace. You haven’t been good enough. You don’t deserve to be in His presence, to eat His Body and Blood, but He wants you to have it. And so He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies by His Gospel. Your worthiness isn’t based on yourself, but it is based on faith, on trust in the goodness of the King.
And people come, but we have the example in the parable of the one who does not wear the wedding garment and is tossed out. Why was this one guest rejected? His character was no objection, for bad and good were both invited. His status was no objection, for the king had sent out servants to gather up everyone they could find. Why was the wedding garment such a big deal? In Jesus’ time, Israelites expected invited guests to wear festive wedding garments which the host could provide. It’s not that the man was underdressed, it’s that he refused to wear what was given to him. This man’s failure to dress in appropriate clothing, which was freely given to him, offends the King, the host. The same disobedience which made others refuse made him unfit, even though he was present.
So also He throws out those who would come to the feast but not actually participate, those who will not wear the appropriate garment. They are cast into the dark place of eternal torture. Many of those called into God’s kingdom miss out because they refuse to respond to the invitation properly—in faith. “This does not mean that God is unwilling to save everybody. But the reason some are not saved is as follows: They do not listen to God’s Word at all.” AC
This is the warning, and the point of the parable. The Kingdom of heaven is like the King and His actions. The marriage is the work of salvation. Christ is the groom, the Church is the bride, we are the guests. The coming of the king into the hall is the second coming of Christ. The wedding garment is the robe of Christ’s righteousness, the grace of God, in which a person is clothed through the waters of baptism. It is not enough to be invited and come, only to refuse the righteousness of Christ, to outwardly be a part of a church but inwardly reject the Gospel.
Some have come into the feast by the garment, by invitation, by Baptism, and then, tragically, has taken off the garment. He didn’t get in without it. He had it. But now he refuses it, he grows tired of it. He mocks it. He forgets the vows he made at confirmation. He does not to fear, love and trust in God above all things. He takes the King’s hospitality for granted. The wedding garment offered in Christ was rejected. If any are cast out into outer darkness, it will be because they refuse to put on the new man, which the Lord Himself earns and provides. The only way you come into the Kingdom is if you shirk your own righteousness and are clothed with His righteousness.
So repent. And stay dressed! Cling to the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covers all your sin. You have been invited and granted entrance to the kingdom of heaven by virtue of your baptism, rejoice with the saints of God. In the presence of the King. In the wedding feast, the eternal marriage as Christ has wed Himself to the bride, the Church of God, presenting the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:27).