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October 15, 2017 Text: Matthew 22:1-14
Dear Friends in Christ,
Since we live in such a fast food age it is sometimes hard to appreciate a good meal, a real feast of fine food and drink to be enjoyed. In the 1987 Danish movie Babette’s Feast, two women, Martina and Philippa, named after the reformers Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon, are now elderly, leading simple lives, having foregone romance and adventure in their youth. Babette is a former five-star chef from Paris who has served these women as a cook and housekeeper for fourteen years, submitting to their simple lifestyle and bland food. Babette changes their lives forever when she uses her large prize winnings to prepare a sumptuous French feast for these sisters and their austere religious community. What happens as a result is remarkable. Feasting and generosity actually transform lives as Babette gives thanks for all God’s gracious gifts of creation by sacrificing all she had so that this community could rejoice at this feast of finest food and drink.
In our text for today we will see that the banquet to which God invites us – the best of meats and finest of wines – has that kind of life-changing power for us. This is a banquet seemingly no one would want to miss.
“THE WEDDING FEAST IS READY – ARE YOU?”
Today a man and woman who are getting married send out “Save the date” notices. In the parable the king had alerted the guests that the big event was coming. The date is set, the wedding hall is ready, and the food is prepared. The servants are sent out to invite the invited to the wedding feast. All is ready.
All the work is done, but no one comes. This is rude and we can understand the frustration of the king. Kind of like what happens with RSVP’s today. People either wait to the last minute or don’t send it in at all. This frustrates the man and woman because they need a count for dinner. I work with couples, please send in the RSVP.
In the parable, the servants go out again, but no one pays attention. One goes off to his farm. Another to his business. Still others were indifferent to the point where they seized the servants and killed them. The king gets angry and exacts revenge. Still, the wedding feast is ready, and so the invitation goes out again. Now the hall is filled with guests, as many as the servants could find.
Are these guests ready? Both good and bad are invited; both good and bad arrived. The king does everything he can to see that all of them – good and bad – are ready. In ancient Israel, special attire was commonly required at a wedding. The host often supplied those wedding garments. The king has provided everything his guests need to be ready.
But as he looks over the gathering, he sees that not everyone is ready. Amid the splendor he notices one not dressed for the occasion. He calls him “Friend” but the man has no explanation why he is refusing the clothing the king is offering. “Cast him into the outer darkness…for many are called, but few are chosen.” (vs. 13-14)
So, then, are we ready for the wedding feast? God is the King and He invites everyone to the marriage feast of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death on the cross has earned a seat at the feast for every person who has ever lived.
Some will ignore the invitation. They are too busy. Too busy with a career to build. Too busy with their kids activities. Too busy with outside interests to give the Lord the time to be fed by Word and Sacrament.
Some accept the invitation but on their terms. They clothe themselves in their good deeds and accomplishments. They clothe themselves in their good name and pious lifestyle. They have no excuse when asked why they didn’t clothe themselves in the righteousness offered them in Jesus Christ.
But in his grace and mercy the King extends the invitation. In Baptism, He provided us garments of salvation that we will wear into eternity. Garments won for us by His Son’s death and resurrection. Clothed in Christ’s righteousness, we are ready for the wedding feast.
We live in a casual dress age. Teachers at school. Coaches on the court and sidelines. People in church and at funerals. College kids in pajamas. Corporate casual. But we know there are certain situations when our clothes should match the occasion. When God the Father invites us to the wedding feast at which his Son will be the Bridegroom, he supplies us with the right thing to wear, the righteousness of Jesus given at our Baptism. “Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to the cross I cling. Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.” You are ready for the wedding feast – clothed in Christ.