The Wedding Banquet
What if you had the opportunity of attending the wedding of two of the most prestigious people on earth? Perhaps the union of a billionaire and an empress. And your mere presence at this marriage offered you life-long opportunities that those not attending this wedding could ever experience. It offered wealth, luxuries, social esteem, and total provision for the rest of your life. As fantastic as this sounds, such is the case in this parable Christ told in Matthew 22.
While it's packed with highlights of interest, I want to amplify several interesting thoughts in today's message. First, let's consider the significance of the wedding banquet.
I. The Significance of the Wedding Banquet
1. First, there is the magnificence of this Banquet to consider. You may have been to some royal, aristocratic banquets but the Marriage Banquet (Supper) of the Lamb outclasses them all.
The eternal God of the universe will preside over the ceremony.
The Son of God, the heir of all things, will rise to take His bride
The throne of Heaven will furnish the platform.
The angels will supply the music and serve the delicacies. And as Matthew points out His choicest, "fattened" cattle have been provided.
He went on to say: "all things are ready," again implying there was no want at the banquet. Jehovah-Jireh, God our provider, has a magnificent feast with all the trimming awaiting us.
2. Secondly, there are those to whom the invitation to the banquet is extended. And it was a universal invitation. Verse three says He sent His servants to call "those who had been invited to the banquet." The Jews were invited first, later the Gentiles.
After the Jews were extended two invitations and rejected them the offer was extended to the Gentiles. The King says in verses eight and nine: "'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. (9) Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.'" God's call is a universal call. Everyone is invited to His banquet.
3. Third, notice those whom Christ used to extend the invitation: He used his "servants." The Greek word used for servant here doesn't refer to an angel, its reference is to a bond-servant of the Lord--a man. Men are the only mouthpieces of God able to issue the Gospel invitation.
5. Fifth, notice that the invitation to the banquet was seasonal. The Jews had their invitations to come to the banquet, but denied it, and consequently they were passed over for the Gentiles. Matthew 24 indicates that today is the "times of the Gentiles" to come to Christ. That day will soon be over and the focus will return to the Jews.
Let this be a warning to everyone: God has a set time for your salvation. If you ignore His grace and reject Christ you are in danger of eternal punishment. The Bible says: "The Spirit of God will not always strive with man." Scripture is clear when it says, "Today is the day of salvation."
This is an incredible consideration. The Bible says a day is coming when the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of the universe, will reappear on this earth to be eternally joined with His bride. John described this event in Revelation 21:2 when he said: "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband."
I am convinced most Christians fail to fully understand this. There are very few who, with John, have comprehended the union Believers will share with Christ in their glorified bodies. The best way to grasp this mystical union is take an analogy from an earthly marriage. The Bible says the most significant outcome of marriage is the making of two into one. I know the co-joining of Christ with man is mind-boggling. Yet this is how God describes the relationship of Christ and His people. Can you imagine the power and glory extended to man when this marriage culminates at the throne of God? Think about two implications of this marriage:
Because we will be one with Christ we will share in His divine nature. That alone is beyond comprehension but this is what John noted in 1 John 3:2 "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." And it's what Peter noted in 2 Peter 1:4 "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."
This union with Christ not only makes it possible to share in His divine nature it permits us to participate in His dominion. Revelation 20:4 says that the dead will come "to life and reign with Christ a thousand years."
(Transition) The wedding banquet of Christ and His bride is the most marvelous wedding banquet of eternity. Who wouldn't want to participate in it? Sadly, this parable indicates there are many people who refuse an invitation to this banquet and are contemptible towards it. Let's note those who exhibit contempt for this Wedding Banquet.
II. The Contempt for the Wedding Banquet
Treating this banquet or an invitation to it with contempt is an inexcusable rejection of God's best He has to offer. God spared no expense when He sacrificed His only begotten Son on the Cross. Ignoring this invitation of salvation only elicits the judgment of God.
Those who reject this banquet invitation eternally seal the fate of their soul. When someone rejects the redeeming Blood of Christ it is impossible to be saved. There is no forgiveness for the final rejection of Christ as your Savior. If you depart this life without Christ in your heart you will be eternally lost in the flames of Hell. Let's look more specifically at those who rejected this invitation and then the one who attended it but was improperly dressed:
1. Verse three mentions the complacent. These are the ones who ignored the call of the King assuming their business was more important. Luke provides more detailed information as to why they rejected this invitation. Listen to their excuses:
In Luke 14:18 the first said: "'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me."
The second said: "'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me" (LUK 14:19).
The third said: "'I just married and can't come" (LUK 14:20).
The Lord shows us there are no acceptable excuses for rejecting His Son.
2. The second group of people scorning this banquet are those that violently reject the invitation (4-6). They don't simply reject an invitation they revile and persecute the way of God and its messengers.
God reserves severe judgement for these people. Verse seven says when the King learned that His servants had been killed He was furious and He "sent out His armies and destroyed the murderers and burned their cities."
This parable of Christ is more than rhetorical. These words actually became a fact of history. In 70 A.D. the Roman Emperor Titus destroyed Jerusalem and killed 1.5 million inhabitants of that area.
Listen folks, never frustrate the grace of God. Don't harden your heart against the Spirit of God. He makes the invitation to Christ possible. One day, in your time of need, you may call Him but not find Him. The Bible says: "Seek the Lord while He may be found." You may say, "But I am young," or "I am simply not ready," or "I'll accept the invitation after I enjoy the pleasures of life."
Folks, you don't come to Christ when you please! The Bible says, "No man can come to Christ unless the Spirit draws him." Many have prolonged the invitation, grieved the Spirit, and though they sought God with many tears they were unable to find Him. Today is your day of salvation.
3. Verse eleven tells us of a third category of people. "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes."
I find it interesting that no one at this marriage feast realized this man was wuithout a wedding garment. And message here clearly illustrates man's inability to judge the heart of another. That responsibility belongs solely to God. We aren't the judge, He is!
This improperly clothed man represented the most insolent of those who profess to accept God's invitation but fail to comply with His requirements. This man's disposition is like those today who come to Church and fake their spirituality. They sing, fellowship, participate in the Church's recreational activities, and appear to have on the wedding garment. But they're phonies. And Jesus said in verse thirteen that judgment accompanies their spurious behavior: "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."
The King treated this man as reprehensibly and harshly as those who rejected the invitation. He was an imposter. He ostensibly pretended to be a part of the marriage feast but his heart was unconverted. He knew the banquet required a wedding garment but he refused it and rejection made him an encroacher.
How many people in the Church today know they are not right with God yet persist in their sinfulness? Folks, the Lord has lovingly given this parable to forewarn of His coming judgement against all not wearing the wedding garment of Christ.
(Transition) Let me exhort everyone here in this category to submit to God, confess your sins, turn from your evil ways, and put on the wedding garment. Make your heart right with God now because judgement day is coming. And that leads me to point three: The importance of the Wedding Banquet.
III. The Importance of the Wedding Banquet
Note one more time what verse eleven says: "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes." The purpose of the king's initial entrance was to examine the readiness of those in attendance. He was there to take a penetrating and discerning look at their lives from center to circumference.
The fact that He spotted only one person improperly dressed does not mean there is only one person among many in that condition. The revelation is that God's all-seeing eyes can detect even one unprepared person in the midst of a multitude. And that makes it impossible for anyone to escape His judgment.
When the King stepped in the room He spotted this man and discerned every aspect of his character. Like x-ray vision the man was examined through and through. The King's unblinking eyes penetrated to the heart and knew everything about him. And instantly the man saw the full horror of his position. His inward parts were loosed like Belshazzar of old when he saw the handwriting of God on the wall. His deception was over and the day of retribution had come. Folks, nothing escapes the eyes of the Lord. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:13: "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."
Here is the tragedy of this man. He knew of the fate of those who had refused the wedding invitation. He knew the King had sent out His armies and destroyed them, yet he dared to defy the only means of salvation--the righteous robe of Jesus Christ. My how stiff-necked and rebellious he was.
Note finally, the choice of words the King used to convict this man of his sin. Verse twelve says He addressed the man with the word "Friend." "'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?'" There is a significant correlation here to Christ's words to Judas in the Garden on the night of His betrayal. When Judas, who was among the twelve, came to betray Christ with a kiss, Jesus said to Him: "Friend, do what you came for . . ." (MAT 26:50). Both men were stung with the very word that mocked their hypocrisy.
And notice the man's reaction. He was speechless! He could not say a word. The consciousness of guilt struck him dumb. The King judged him even as He will judge every person who refuses the wedding garment of Christ--by casting him into outer darkness amidst the flames of Hell.