Sermon: October 12, 2008

20 10 2008

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

 

 

                                                            Matthew 22:1–14

 

 

            You know, over the past several weeks we have been looking at the Gospel of Matthew.  And every time I have read from the Gospel of Matthew I have told you two things.  First, Matthew loves to tell the parables of Jesus.  There are more parables in the Gospel of Matthew than there are in any other Gospel.  Second, Matthew didn’t like the Pharisees very much.  These were the people who always looked down their noses at him.  They were the good people.  He was just “scum” – a former tax collector.  And beside that he didn’t like them very much because he saw them as the ones responsible for plotting Jesus’ death.

            Well this is just another one of those parables of Jesus that he loves to give us, and secondly the point of the parable is to “sock it to” the Pharisees and the leaders of the Temple.

            The story is pretty simple.  A king has a son who is getting married.  So he invites all of his friends and neighbors – all of his loyal subjects – to come and join him in celebrating his son’s wedding.  That’s something that we would all do.  One of our kids is getting married so we invite all of the relatives and all of our friends.  But what happens?  None of them show up.  They all have something more important to do.  Now the king realizes what’s going on.  Things that are important to you – people that are important to you – you make time for.  If you don’t make time for them, then they just aren’t all that important to you.

            The king realizes what is going on.  My son is just not that important to you.  His wedding is just not that important to you.  “I” am just not that important to you.  So the king sends out his servants to invite others.

            The point:  The people of Israel – the chosen ones of God – the children of Abraham – they have rejected God.  The Pharisees – the Leaders of the Temple – the “Good People” – they have turned from God – so God has turned to others.

            Well, that was a point that the early Christians learned well.  NOT!!  In the early church one of the big controversies that had to be settled by calling a meeting of all the leaders.  Peter and Paul were both there.  The issue was does one have to be a Jew before you can become a Christian.  After all Christ came for the Jews – the children of Abraham.  He didn’t want just anybody in the kingdom.  They had to have a convention before they could agree that people like Timothy could be part of the Christian Church.  People like you.  Imagine these Christians who knew Jesus – who walked and talked with Jesus – they had to have a church convention to decide if the Kingdom of God was for everyone.  HELLO!!!  Did any one bother reading the Gospel of Matthew? 

            You know, last Sunday we talked about the problem that the Christian Church has.  We spoke about how the church is dying.  How fewer than 26% of our people are involved in a church.  How fewer than 4% of our youngest generation is involved in a church.  How if we don’t turn this around, the church will disappear.  It means that we must focus on taking the precious message of Jesus to all the world.  It means that we can’t sit around here waiting for them to come to us.  We have to go out and get them.  Remember the story of the Wedding?  What did the king do?  Why he opened the doors to the place where his son was getting married and hoped that people would show up?  No!!  Well, he put an ad in the local newspaper and hoped that a few would make it?  No!!  What he did was to send his servants out to the highways and to the byways to invite them to the banquet.  We are the servants.  We need to go out to the highways and the byways.  That’s what we are doing every time you put an offering in the plate.  Last year we sent $65,000 to missions – to send servants out to the highways and the byways – to send others where we could not go – to do what we could not do.  That’s why we collect food on Harvest Home Sunday and deliver a 100 bags of groceries to people in the neighborhood.  That’s why Sandie heads up our DZ@6 and Food Pantry – to invite those to come and be with us.  That’s why, I think, Jeff and Daphne and the choirs are doing the Reformation Hymn Festival – to bring others from the highways and the byways to come to the great banquet feast.  That’s why Al got folks to go out on Kids Day and hand our brochures on our SS and VBS – to bring others from the highways and the byways. 

            We have got to do just what the servants of the king did in this parable.  We have got to understand that they won’t come to the banquet unless we are out there bringing them in.  We have got to understand that we have got to do what we got to do so that they will want to come to the banquet. 

            That’s why the great commission says Go – Go out into the world – Go to where the people are – Go to them and bring them to Jesus.  Don’t wait for them to come to you.  Go and make disciples of all nations.  Go to where they are.  Go to them at work.  Go to them on the streets.  Go to where they play.  Go and make disciples of all nations.

 

Amen!

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