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NEVER REPENT OF CHRIST AND THE GOSPEL

The Parable of the Wedding Feast is a prophetic condemnation of the Jews who knew of the Messiah from the Scriptures, but rejected the Messiah in unbelief when He came. But the infinite mercy of God reached out into the world with the invitation the Messianic Feast – Faith and Salvation in the Christ. But these others in the world sometimes now repent of Christ in indifference and disdain for His salvation. They suffer the calamity of all unbelievers

But we cannot talk about those rejecting the mercy of God without being overwhelmed by that self-same mercy, the invitation to an eternal fest with our Creator! “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! … ” (1 John 3:1a)

YOU are invited, too!

Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, October 25, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

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Matthew 22:1–14 (CSB)

22 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come. Again, he sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: See, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged, and he sent out his troops, killed those murderers, and burned down their city.

“Then he told his servants, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go then to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.’ 10 So those servants went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. 11 When the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Dear fellow redeemed: I hope you are familiar with the essential preaching of John the Baptist, of Christ, and of the church through the ages: Repent and believe the gospel. Our text is a bit different, you might say it is…

BELIEVE THE GOSPEL AND NEVER REPENT OF IT

  1. The Gospel Is a Monumental Gift
  2. Indifference and Rejection Bring Judgment
  3. Never Repent of the Wedding Banquet
  1. The Gospel Is a Monumental Gift

As you remember, Matthew present much of the teaching of Christ, with a special emphasis on His word to the Jews. Today’s text is the third in s series of Christ’s parables to the leaders of the people warning them about their rejection of the Christ.

This parable is about the “kingdom of heaven” that is being established in the days  of Christ. It speaks of “a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.” This is a fulfillment of the Old Testament  theme of God as Israel’s Husband and Israel as Yahweh’s bride. This occurs at the great messianic feast[1] when Messiah comes, and God Himself visits His people. Through the apostles and other disciples, and by Christ Himself, He sent his servants to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come.

This invitation is the call to repentance and faith, and it is given to those who knew already of the wedding feast, the Jews and those who had the Scriptures. He sent his servants to summon those [already] invited to the banquet. Those who had been invited were implored to come. Again, he sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: See, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.

The announcement that everything was ready was received with disdain, disrespect, indifference, and finally violence. Jesus would address this situation more literally before long: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’!”

“As Jesus left and was going out of the temple, his disciples came up and called his attention to its buildings. He replied to them, “Do you see all these things? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down.” (Matthew 23:37–24:2, CSB)

2.  Indifference and Rejection Bring Judgment

This judgment is prefigured in this parable. The king was enraged, and he sent out his troops, killed those murderers, and burned down their city. Does that seem like a bit of an overreaction to you? Don’t judge Jesus and His words; learn from them. This wedding feast was planned before the dawn of time. All of human history flows toward it. The King’s Son is no less than God incarnate, come to atone for the sins of all.

Do you see how terrible a thing it is to despise, to be indifferent to, the gift of the gospel? This is the good news that your sins are forgiven, death has been defeated, all because this Christ was righteous for you and laid down His life for your sins. The wedding feast of the King’s son is ongoing from His resurrection on into eternity, and you are invited, as it is written in the Revelation of St. John, Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying, Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has prepared herself. She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These words of God are true.” (Revelation 19:6–9, CSB)

We partake of this feast now in part and it is completed in the resurrection. But even now we celebrate as we often sing during Holy Communion, “At the Lamb’s high feast we sing Praise to our victorious King, Who has washed us in the tide Flowing from His pierced side.”

These leaders and teachers of the Jews knew of the Messiah, but rejected Him. To be indifferent to such a gift is an offense to the King of kings, and His judgment falls upon them.

But the mercy of God is infinite, and because Christ ahs atoned for the sins of all, anyone and everyone is invited.“Then he told his servants, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go then to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.’ 10 So those servants went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests.

This is the church in the new testament age. Those who had not yet received the invitation, did not yet know of the hope of the Messiah, are invited, and by the millions they come. This is you and me.

3.  Never Repent of the Wedding Banquet

In a sense, we are like the Jews, in that we have been invited, but we have also entered into the Messianic Feast. We are in the church and receive the gift of God. Do you think there is a danger that, like the people who had already been invited, but showed indifference and disrespect, that some who are in the church may show indifference and disrespect.

That is what happens in the parable. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. 11 When the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

The lack of wedding clothes in this parable is a mark of disrespect. It is parallel to the indifference and disdain of the first group of invitees. Even in our low-brow society, I would hope there are some occasions for which we would dress up out of respect, like funerals, state occasions – weddings.

But to be part of the Messianic feast, part of the church, to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, to be under the care of the Good Shepherd and His under-shepherds and then to become indifferent and negligent and unappreciative of what we have is a profound insult. To “repent” is to turn around and go the other way. Some repent of their sin and turn to Christ; some “repent” and turn away.

Scripture warns of this. Jesus did in the parable of the sower, fi you recall. Hebrews warns against thinking you don’t need to listen to your pastors, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17, CSB)

In fact, Hebrews is pretty direct about this; for such indifference “…  there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26–27, CSB)

Now, we could wrap up with that image of the man falling forever in outer darkness, and that is a warning, after all. But the message for you is the invitation itself, and image repeated over and over throughout Scripture. God has come to join Himself with His church forever, in an everlasting feast, and YOU are invited.

AMEN

[1] Gibbs, Jeffrey A.: Concordia Commentary, Matthew 21:1-28:20, CPH, St. Louis. 2018 p. 1106.