Saturday 14 October 2017

The gospel passage comes from the 22nd Chapter of Matthew’s gospel and is the parable of the wedding feast. This is one of a series of parables our Lord is delivering in which He exposes the failures of the chief priests and leaders of Israel, and rebukes them for allowing the people to ignore Him as the Messiah, and their general disobedience to God.

If Jesus was here to day He would most certainly be rebuking the chief priests of the Church as they let the Church drift away from its moorings of the Bible, to sail off into the muddy waters of society, and to allow and make provision to embrace and accept behaviour which is incompatible with Scripture, and for acceptance to the Kingdom of God.

There is a picture of a king who wants to give a feast for the marriage of his son, and such a feast would traditionally last for days. In accordance with Jewish tradition invitations would be sent out to the proposed guests without any set time the being stated, but when the food and preparations were complete servants would be sent out to say all was ready and for them to attend.

At first guests were making excuses, which were received badly by the King for it would be considered insulting, and when further servants went out they were brutally treated and even murdered. The king was furious and sent his army to kill the murderers and burn their city.

The king decided the feast would not fail and ordered his men to go out and bring all outsiders to the table. One man was seen not wearing a wedding garment and so upset the king who had him bound and thrown out.

The meaning is the king represents God; the son is Jesus; the servants are the prophets and John the Baptist; and the outsiders are the Gentiles. The feast is for the coming of Jesus into the world, and likened to the gospel story of salvation. Like all the teachings of Jesus, there is an enduring lesson for each age, no less than our time.

The Bible throughout reveals that God chose Israel out of all nations to be His specially chosen one; God has also given advantages and blessings to other nations, which Jesus indicated would happen in the parable. He said the hand of God which was first intended for the Jew would be extended and given to both Jews and Gentiles.

What is a matter of concern for Christians is that there are far too many men, and now women, holding office in the Church, some in high places who want to re-interpret the Bible to fit in with modern populist thought. Let us be honest, there are not just a few within the Church, whose style of life will not be accepted by Jesus the supreme judge, and it is particularly unacceptable for clergy who are here to preach the gospel, to be unworthy. They are acting like the chief priests who Jesus is here condemning for disobeying God by not following His teaching, and will have to answer for so doing.

We can’t just be holy on Sundays and revert to any lifestyle we choose for the rest of the week.

There are plenty of people who have little time for Christianity, their own lives are too important to them to be involved with the Church. Others are openly hostile and only mention the name of Jesus as an expletive. Christianity is not the gloomy faith that is often painted by many who fear they will lose too much pleasure if they become Christians.

This parable tells us all are invited to the feast, but many people are so concerned for their present life they are losing the chance of eternal life. In all His teaching Jesus made it clear this life is a preparation for an after life. He never avoided pointing out this meant there were two alternative places heaven or hell. People say God would never send anyone to hell, and that is true He lets us make the decision by how we live our life now.

We are reminded that the appeal of Christ to us is not so much to consider how we will be punished if we challenge God, who expressed His way, but how much we will lose if we don’t follow His teaching. Those who did not go to the wedding were punished but their real tragedy was they lost the joy of the feast.

We are being offered the chance to be taken into the presence of God, and be given a place in heaven. If we do not follow Christ some day our greatest pain will be in the realisation of the precious things of which we have denied ourselves by doing our own thing. In the last analysis, God’s invitation to us is of His amazing grace.

God is still offering a place in heaven to all who will seek His Son. There is no charge, which has already been paid by Jesus when He died on the Cross to cleanse us of all sin. We do have to put our faith and trust in Jesus and realise there is no other way to God except through Him.

God is making it all so easy by providing all we need. The Son has put us right with God and the Father will pardon and receive us. In addition He has given us written guidance for our lives by providing the Bible which will set out His plan.

All false religion will one day be exposed. God sees into our hearts and just as the king threw out the man at the wedding for being improperly dressed, so God will not enter unto His kingdom those who ignored Him in this life.

The second part of the reading puzzles many people; why was the man so roughly treated as to justify being thrown out.

Jesus is portraying the Gentiles being gathered in together with sinners. Whilst the door is still open to all, when they come they must come with a life that is going to measure up to the love which has been shown to them. A person cannot go on living a kind of life lived before coming to Christ, there must be purity, holiness and goodness. A sinner may come but cannot remain a sinner.

There is also a lesson in that the way a person comes demonstrates the spirit in which they come. If you go to a person’s home for dinner, you don’t go in the clothes you wear to the gardening. It may not matter to the friend, but out of courtesy and respect we present ourselves worthy of the invitation and kindness shown to us.

So when we come to worship we don’t need to be on a fashion parade, but I think some of the sights I have seen are quite offensive. Such dressing would not be worn if the person was visiting royalty or at a civic function, why on earth do they think they should come to the king of king’s house. I watch the services from America and the people dress most smartly worthy of meeting the Lord.

The dressing of our minds however is of prime importance as we should dress in clothes of expectation, coming in clean hearts and minds, with humble penitence, faith and reverence. In His Holy Word God said He should be worshipped with reverence and awe.

This is why I cannot bring myself to baptism services. Baptism is a most sacred sacrament in which a person has been touched by God and has opened their heart to receive Christ. There is a sense of repentance and commitment, and in the Bible that is when people were baptised. The Church in its dubious wisdom opened the way for children of committed Christian parents to be baptised, but in many cases this has been adopted to include all and sundry who make promises they have no intention of keeping.

I can’t go into this any more deeply on account of time, but it is a mockery to say a child is born again, one of the most evangelically treasured phrases, and to ask the parents if they have repented of sin and turned to Christ. Apart from the fact most have no idea what is called for, if they did some would find it hard to answer truthfully.

So the meaning of the parable is clear. God has provided the feast of the kingdom. It is the wedding feast for his Son. The invitation goes out far and wide. Many are invited, but few show by their response that they are chosen.

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