Matthew 22: 1-14
1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 ‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.’
This parable is extreme, from invitation to destruction, from welcome to exclusion.
Without a doubt there is good news. The good and the bad are called to the wedding feast.
BUT, there’s a dress code!
It’s a parable... so we ask – who does the improperly dressed guest represent?
The wolf in sheep’s clothing? Those who would shut the door of heaven in people’s faces?
The Pharisees, who won’t accept Jesus teaching, who persist in finding fault in all he says and does?
Why cast out the one who isn’t dressed appropriately?
Is this parable simply telling us that there is no room in the kingdom of God for those who won’t accept Jesus teaching? Those who persistently find fault with the values of God’s kingdom. Values we’ve thought about much this past week. Faithfulness, Grace, Mercy, Compassion.
Paul instructs the early church in Rome to clothe themselves with Christ, he reminds the baptised believers in Galatia that they have clothed themselves with Christ.
This passage is not an easy one. Are we more gracious than God that we would exclude no one? Or are we hesitant to contemplate the holiness of God? Are we blinded to the damage that is done when there are wolves dressed as sheep in the community of God’s people?
You are jealous for your name and you are jealous for the well-being of your people.
Your ways are not our ways... we but glimpse your holiness, catch sight of your majesty,
We want your protection but we recoil at stories and parables of your judgment
we long to be at ease in your presence where all that threatens is destroyed,
And so, we cautiously affirm with Abraham of old, ‘Will not the judge of all the earth do right?’
May we embrace the work of your spirit in our lives, bearing fruit.
May we be willing to cast off those things that threaten life and holiness.
May we be found clothed with Christ. Amen.