Theme: Reactions to God’s Invitation
This week we learn about the indifferent, even arrogant way men and women respond to God
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
The unique element in the parable of the wedding banquet is the willful refusal of those who were invited. It was not that they could not come; rather they would not. The reason for their refusal is not spelled out, but it is suggested by the way the servants were treated. They seized the servants, mistreated them and killed them (v.6). If the invited guests felt that way toward the servants, they obviously felt that way toward the king who had sent them and would have seized, mistreated, and killed him if they could have done it. In other words, they would not come because they actually despised the king and were hostile to him.
Those of Christ’s day bitterly resented his portrait of them, but resent it or not, that is precisely the way those religious leaders thought and acted. In the story immediately before this (Matthew 21:33-46), Jesus told of tenant farmers who beat, killed, and stoned the owners servants. As a final act of rebellion, they murdered his son.
In the chapter following (Matthew 23), Jesus pronounces woes on these same people: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!…
I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar…
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:29-37).
We know that at the last these rebellious subjects of the King of heaven killed Christ. As Stephen later put it, “Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.” (Acts 7:52-53)
Today we are not so inclined to kill prophets. But if we are honest, we will admit that the same spirit is present among many of our contemporaries as they and others dispose of Gods messengers by ridicule or neglect, if not by more violent hostility. Charles H. Spurgeon preached seven sermons on this parable during the course of his long ministry, and he was deeply touched by that fact. He said, “Today this same class will be found among the children of godly parents; dedicated from their birth, prayed for by loving piety, listening to the gospel from their childhood, and yet unsaved. We look for these to come to Jesus. We naturally hope that they will feast upon the provisions of grace, and like their parents will rejoice in Christ Jesus; but alas How often it is the case they will not come. A preacher may be too rhetorical: let a plain speaking person be tried. He may be too weighty: let another come with parable and anecdote. Alas With some of you the thing wanted is not a new voice, but a new heart. You would listen no better to a new messenger than to the old one.”1
1 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Wedding Was Furnished with Guests,in Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1970), vol. 34, pp. 254,255.
How is the way those invited to the banquet treated the servants an indication of their attitude toward the king?
Who among us today is like the Pharisees in their response to Jesus?
Do you ever act bitterly toward God?
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together..but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:29-37). God longs for you as well.