Daily Devotion – October 6, 2020 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Matthew 22:1-14
22:1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying:
22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
22:3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.
22:4 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.’
22:5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business,
22:6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them.
22:7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
22:8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
22:9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’
22:10 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.
22:11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe,
22:12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless.
22:13 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.’
22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Martin Luther had some trouble preaching on this text. He went at it from several medieval angles, and it never came out very well. I won’t do much better, but let’s look at the story together.

The king invites people. Once the banquet invitations are all rejected and the king does away with the ingrates who couldn’t be bothered to come, he invites everyone from the highways and byways, from all social classes. What we don’t hear in the parable is that the giver of such a feast offers garments to each guest – official “wedding wear” that showed that you were officially allowed in. The king notices a man NOT wearing the attire he had been given was pointed out publicly and then thrown out.

The central theme in this parable is that God is glorifying his son at this banquet for providing salvation and eternal life for all who enter. The first batch of guests are too busy with their own interests to accept God’s invitation to rejoice and be glad and grateful. They are done away with. A new batch of invitations is issued to any and all comers, and people accept these in droves, also accepting the special garment at the gate. All except one guy, who loves his own comfortable jeans and doesn’t want to put this garment on. Luther says the garment is Christ’s salvation of us. The meaning: the man may be grateful to be at the banquet but not willing to accept God’s righteousness, keeping his own comfort to fit him for the feast.

It’s pretty clear that if God calls you to the banquet, you need to set aside all distractions of daily, worldly life and accept. And once you get there, you need to be willing to discard your clothing, no matter how comfortable, for God’s garment: the righteousness of Jesus. In this case, as Paul would say, “Everything I got on my own I consider rubbish next to the salvation which is mine in Christ. I will wear that alone.” This story makes faith an all-or-nothing proposition, since our faith is what got us invited, and faith alone is what we wear at the feast. Do we trust God to provide? Do we wear what God asks?

Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for inviting us to the wedding feast of your precious son. Help us to accept the invitation and the salvation that you offer, letting go of anything we have made in favor of your bountiful gifts.  Amen.