Feasting with God #39
Text: Matthew 22:8-10
8Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Did you catch it? There’s a paradox in this parable, just two verses apart. The king says first that “those invited were not worthy.” But then he asks his servants to “invite to the wedding feast as many as you find,” and is content when they “gathered all whom they found, both good and bad.” Although the original guests were not worthy, there are still some “bad” who are allowed to come. Why is that?
If you’ll remember earlier in the parable, what actually made those first invited “unworthy” was that they made countless excuses not to come, and some even “seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them” (Matt. 22:6). This caused the king to send his troops to destroy them and burn their city to the ground. The unworthiness of these would-be wedding guests was not based on their social status or their wealth; it was based on their rejection of the king’s invitation.
So when some who are “bad” are invited (and the word “bad” is the Greek word for “evil”), they are bad because that is their nature, that is their status. But the messengers of this king, following his orders, gather in even these evil ones to fill the wedding hall. Even though they themselves didn’t deserve to come, had no status before this king that should cause him to recognize them, they were nevertheless invited and given this mighty wedding feast free of charge.
The cautionary tale in this story is, don’t be the unworthy ones who are invited but make excuses, or even act harshly against those bringing the invitation. God’s messengers are going out even now, bearing the wedding invitation, the Gospel, inviting us to come into his banquet hall. Does such an invitation inconvenience you? Are there other things you’d rather be doing? Does it offend you? Are there things it asks you to give up that you feel you can’t live without?
The promise in this story is, even though that is our nature—to hate this message, to prefer our own things, to be disgusting, evil, selfish beings—the invitation comes to us, and God works to gather us into his banquet hall, despite what we deserve.
This is the wedding of the king’s son: we are invited to the feast of the wedding of God’s Son: because he married himself to his people by his death on the cross, paying all their debts and giving to them all his wealth, we are all invited to come and reap the benefits. It’s all done! It’s all free! The messengers of God come with this Gospel to encourage us, although you may be the chief of sinners, although you may be the vilest and lowest person in the world, this great feast is for you! Or, although you may think you have everything you need, although you may have other things you want to accomplish that prevent you from coming to this feast, although the message may offend you, it is still a feast given for you. Don’t be foolish. Take this free gift! God wants to fill his halls with wedding guests, because our sins are all forgiven, and eternal celebratory feasting is ours.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for preparing this wedding feast for us, although we never deserved it. Lead us to see the wonderful gift you give us on account of the sacrificial death of your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.