Weddings and Grace

Matthew 22:1-14
1And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying,
2“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,
3and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.
4Again 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.”’
5But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,
6while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.
7The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
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.
11“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.
12And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
13Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The Scriptures are replete with wedding / marriage imagery from Genesis to Revelation. So we are not surprised by Jesus’ use of wedding parables as He teaches about God’s Kingdom to both the Disciples and the Pharisees. Our reading for today is directed specifically at the Pharisees as He continues His conversation with them. But we are all instructed by these words even yet today.

Just as the parable immediately before this one points out, the Jews, as a group, have soundly rejected Christ although we cannot forget that there are individual Jews who do indeed follow Christ whole-heartedly. This parable about the wedding banquet has a similar message. The Father is even now preparing a tremendous feast / celebration for the time when His Son comes to gather to Himself His Bride, the Church. Sadly, those through whom God brought about the birth of the Savior have chosen rejection of God and have refused to attend the banquet. Thus the doors of the celebration are opened to the Gentiles as well and anyone who receives the Savior is welcomed to come in, even being provided with the appropriate clothing for attendance at such an event. What are those clothing? Those garments are received in our Baptism as we are made new creations in Christ Jesus. Paul points this out in Galatians 3:27, For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” The person who is cast out of the party for not having the proper clothing is that person who thought they might slip in of their own volition without actually knowing Christ as their Savior. The Kingdom of God happens to us, through us, and with us as God wills, not as we want it to happen.

The fact that the whole concept of marriage has been sullied over the last 50+ years is distressing as this is such a powerful image in the Scripture. We lose sight of the beauty of God’s plan when we take marriage and make it disposable or redefine it outside of God’s way. But just as there were some of the Jews who recognized that Jesus was the fulfillment of everything they had learned in the Old Testament, so now there are those who are brought into the Kingdom despite what the world around us says. God’s grace is always greater than our sin.