February 5, 2024

Beside Still Waters: The wedding banquet

Therese Apel

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 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.” – Matthew 22:8-10

Christians, we aren’t God’s original chosen people, you know. Not originally. The tribe of Israel — Jews — those were God’s people at the start. The rest of us, we’re just lucky to be here.

These verses are a comfort and a warning, simultaneously, because a few verses down, the King sees a man not wearing wedding clothes and has his feet and hands bound and he throws him into the dark, “where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

What that’s telling us is that we’ve been found in the streets and brought into the mansion for the biggest event of the year — you need to come in your Sunday best. To boil it down further, you need to show up like you know the difference between where you were and where you are.

Our eternal life is not only a gift, it’s an honor. There’s not a big enough word for a God that will pull us out of the darkness and bring us into the banquet hall, even though we’re the actual rejects. We’ve never seen anything like what He’s about to give us, and we need to live accordingly.

But please understand, the Jews (and not all of them forever — this is not a story of how the Jews have failed. Many churches believe the Jews are still God’s people) aren’t the only ones who were invited and didn’t come. We see that second group, where a man goes to his fields and another goes to his business instead. I believe those are the ones that would like to be there, in theory, but they have other “more pressing” issues.

Believers, nothing is more pressing than eternity. Just because it seems a million years from now, there is nothing in this world that’s more important. Eternity could start today if the wrong speeding bus comes your way.

And there are the others. “The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” (Verse 6)

If we’re looking at the parable here, who does that sound like? I believe that stands for the church leaders of old, but you can ask yourself if we don’t still have that in a figurative way today. I know a pastor whose denomination has all but excommunicated him for saying there needs to be more focus on the problems of the poor and the minorities, since that’s who Jesus helped. There’s more to that story that makes it even worse, but we don’t have days to tell it.

God will be sending his army after the ones who mistreat his servants. So this isn’t just about making sure you’re at the wedding, it’s about being on the right side of church politics: If it doesn’t look like love, it doesn’t look like Jesus.

A lot have been too busy and blind, but you still have the chance to show up in your party clothes. Accept the invitation, and celebrate the King. ❤️


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