Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to summon those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”’ But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them. The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy. So go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found, both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the wedding guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But he had nothing to say. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Tie him up 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.”
Over the centuries, time after time, God’s invitations to the Hebrew nation were rebuffed. They disregarded his covenant and even killed God’s prophetic spokesmen. Jesus knows these hardened Pharisees he is speaking to are preparing to do exactly as their ancestors had. I believe Jesus is speaking prophetically in this parable when he says, “The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire.” In 70 AD the Romans served God in this capacity as they razed Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.
While this parable seems crafted for the ultra-hardened heart I think their is nourishment for us all within it. My takeaway is that the Father has indeed prepared a lavish banquet right now in the presence of the enemy. The appropriate question is; Are we responding to God’s invitations? Do we even recognize what they look like?
In a world where God is ever-present, always loving and all-knowing the question may be, “Is there really any place that he is not present – invitation in hand?” In the spiritual sense the main course of our banquet is Jesus, the Bread of Life. He is the giver and sustainer of Life abundant. In Christ we have everything. No other courses are necessary. In every way in all circumstances he is our sufficiency. Resting and trusting in this reality is to take up fork and knife and partake.
The prophets were mistreated and abused as they carried the invitations to come and be reconciled to God. Jesus, the King’s own Son was treated the same as he came and gave first right of refusal of the kingdom to his own people. We will be wise to observe that the kingdom of God has been and always will be a threat to the spirit of religion. Grace and performance-religion are irreconcilable. Nothing is more repulsive to a religious spirit than to find that their works have not been credited to them as righteousness. In contrast, nothing is more basic to the kingdom than the rule that only faith will ever be credited as righteousness. The hungry partake of Christ by grace and he becomes their life and is therefore ever-present, all-knowing and all-loving in the midst of their lives whatever their circumstances.
Father, as those with Christ in us, may we discover the feast available to us continually. May this reality from within animate us afresh, giving the kingdom expression in the midst of our circumstances whatever they may be. Amen.
I have include the words to Bob Bennett’s song; A Moveable Feast
Staking out holy territory / Laying claim to the realms of glory / Thinking it’ll always be the same old story / But now a voice is crying out / Over murmuring and resignation / To the soul of a suffering nation / Centuries of thinking that it’s all location / Now there seems to be some doubt // Its not just where you go / It’s more of who you know / The Good News of God is now released / No more to live alone / In temples of flesh and bone / The kingdom of God is a movable feast // You who have hidden in your houses / For fear, for sorrow, for anger, for sin / As best as you’re able, rise from your table / Open the door and let Love in // Commandments handed down in stone to start / Were always to be written on the human heart / For the Word and the Spirit are never apart / From what the Father has in Mind / And so we live between a blessing and a curse / Look to a future we can only rehearse / Drawing treasure maps, chapter and verse / Until we slowly come to find …
Its not just where you go / It’s more of who you know / The Good News of God is now released / No more to live alone / In temples of flesh and bone / The kingdom of God is a movable feast