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Matthew 22:1-14: Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4″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.’ 5 “But they paid no attention and went off-one to his field, another to his business. 6The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11″But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “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.’ 14″For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
When I was in the Army there definitely was a dress code. There were seasons and that meant summer and winter uniforms and everyone had to change at the same time. Then there were work clothes and dress clothes, called Class A’s. Office workers wore class A’s and everyone else wore what we called fatigues. Boots with fatigues and shoes with class A’s, except when on guard duty. That called for Class A’s with boots.
Then in the Church when I was first ordained there was a dress code. The men wore suits and the women wore dresses. Once I was talking with a stranger and he asked if he had to wear a suit and I said, “We really don’t have any rules like that. However, our men do wear suits.” He said he didn’t own a suit but he would wear what he had. He showed up with just a shirt and pants and he stood out like a sore thumb. There were at least 150 other men there.
In that same church, some women asked me if they could wear pantsuits in the evening service. That had never been done before.
In our church, we have a dress code for pastors. Pastors normally wear robes. The undergarment is black, reminding us of sin. The outer garment is white, reminding us of Christ’ purity. Last year we attended a Lenten service in another LCMS church but the pastor chose not to wear a robe. Both Patty and I felt something was missing.
Now a question: What is the dress code for heaven- or is there one??? Rev 7. “ After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.1 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, “Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.” And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? And I said unto him, “Sir, thou knowest.” And he said to me, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Answer: Yes there is a Dress Code!
Now to our text: 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…. So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
It was assumed that the king sent out special invitations to the landed and wealthy of his kingdom; people who should have honored him and respected him. To get an invitation, a personal invitation from a king is to drop everything and put this as first priority! But they paid no attention! The king was enraged…. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.”
I think of our Country: We were a Christian Country and somehow or the other, the message went out from all our churches: Come to worship. Come and fellowship. Come and hear the Gospel. Hymns were sung like Rock of Ages, and Amazing Grace. Hymns which portrayed the Gospel even if that denomination didn’t clearly spell it out, the hymns did! But what has happened to our Country! It was not that God deemed our fellow citizens unworthy, it is that that have deemed themselves unworthy!
I think of our Church membership. How many have dropped by the wayside? Nationally, 100’s of 1000’s. Locally, – 50? 60? More? Why? “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.” In our terms, the church’s doors are open. The service is printed out and easy to follow. The hymns are sing-able. The sermon is prepared. The Lord’s Supper is waiting on the altar.
Now apart from how Jesus put it in this parable: Who deserves to be here? And the answer is no one! Not you and not me! Even St Paul said he was the chief of sinners. In another parable, the servants said, “We are unworthy!” Why? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So what did the King do? That is to say, what did God do? He said to His servants, “So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” In other words, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.”….So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
The good and the bad. Comparatively speaking there are good and bad people in this world. That is, socially. Spiritually, there are only bad. “There is none that doeth good and sinneth not!” You and I are witnesses of this fact. We have sinned by thought, word, and deed. There are things we should have done and didn’t do them. There are things we should not have done but did them anyway.
What to do? The answer is indirectly within our text. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.” The custom back then was for the host to supply clothing for his special occasions. People traveling a great distance needed something else to wear. In our parable, the people off the streets simply didn’t have anything else to wear. So the King supplied what he wanted his guests to wear.
However, this one man believed his clothing was good enough. He didn’t care to have on, what the king wanted. Now, of course, Jesus wasn’t talking about real clothing but spiritual clothing, like one of our hymns, states it, “Clothed in His righteousness alone- faultless to stand before the throne.”
What the parable is about is self-righteousness vs. Christ- righteousness. The choice is; “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling” or “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” God prefers that other prayer, namely, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ In other words, to have Christ put on us His robe of righteousness, stained by our sins, yet washed in His blood. How about this hymn?
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
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