March 24, 2005

Many are Invited

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off–one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and 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 wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
[Matthew 22]

It's an interesting parable. I'm interested in the king, though. He throws this wedding banquet for his son, inviting all these guests, and when they're called to come to the prepared banquet, they all refuse to come. The people who the king invited refused to come to his son's wedding.

This bothers me. Why would they refuse? That makes no kind of sense to me at all - if the king, who seems to be a pretty nice guy, invited me to his son's wedding, I'd be there in a heartbeat (this from a guy who is totally into free food). But no, the invited guests get snobby and refuse to go because they're "busy", and then kill all the people he'd sent to invite them. And so the king gets pissed. He sends his army out and destroys the people who refused - not because they refused, but because they killed the messengers.

And so what does the king do next? This just blows my mind - instead of just leaving it be and letting the son get married alone, he throws open his doors and invites everyone he can find. Everyone. Not just the ones who he liked best, absolutely everyone.

And that should be the end of the story. But it's not ... during the wedding (and a hoppin' party it is), the king finds someone who came in without proper wedding clothes. This just isn't the king's day - dissed by people twice in a row! And he gets mad, and asks why the guy hasn't dressed in the clothes he was supposed to - the guy is speachless - and the king has him thrown out.

Interesting. I've read that kings would provide clothes for the guests if they didn't have proper ones (though I don't know why the king would've invited people without them, but this seems to be an exceptional king). But let's look at the whole thing now - top to bottom, metaphor removed.

Jesus is getting married and God wants to put on a wedding party for him. Great. Problem - the chosen people of God have abandoned Him, and so He destroys them and invites everyone else (the rest of humanity, it would seem, since there's no specific group of people listed) to participate in this wedding.

But it gets better. Not only does he invite the large group of people come in, they get the clothes for it too. But one guy doesn't put them on. Why not? Noone knows - scripture doesn't say because he's speechless. And so God casts out the guy who's not in the proper state of dress, even though he sees what the wedding is like.

What is the proper state of dress? Scripture is pretty clear: Jesus. "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son ..." [John 3:16] "... clothe yourself with Christ ..." [Romans 13:14]

And to make my plug for our continued discussion on Calvinism ... the parable definitely says that all were invited, save those who had been called before. And it's a terrible response to Adam's last blog, but at this point, I have a thesis to get back to. I'll leave him with this - I think that humanity is corrupt too. But that doesn't mean that we have lost the ability to choose, it just makes our decision that much harder.

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