Friday, November 16, 2012

Put the robe on

I’ve been studying Matthew 22:1-11 this week.  The chapter starts with a parable about a wedding feast.  Parables are not true stories but stories Jesus would tell to make a point.

Jesus is telling this story to a crowd of Jewish Pharisees and scribes who don’t want anything to do with him. They think they are good enough and that they don’t need Jesus.

Verses 1 & 2  - “Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”

Who does the King represent in this story?

God is the King and he prepares a wedding banquet for his son.

Who is his son?

Jesus.  Jesus is telling the story about the big wedding feast that God is preparing for him.  The Bible refers to this in the book of Revelation.  What happens at the end when Jesus comes back? There is basically a big wedding feast; a big party. Who gets to go to that party?  People who have placed their faith in Jesus.

Verse 3 - “He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.”

So who is Jesus talking about here?  Who refuses to come?

The people he is teaching right now.  These Jewish Pharisees and scribes don’t want to come. In fact, they are actually planning to kill him.

Verse 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.’”

This king appears to be quite a generous guy.  He sends out the invitation. The people refuse him. And he invites them again.  He is kinder than I would have been. 

What happens next ….

Verse 5 - “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business.”

These are people who don’t want to come.  They don’t care about the King’s son.  They don’t care about the party at the end.  They are going off and do their own thing.

Verse 6 - “The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.”

Any idea what Jesus is referring to here?

In the Old Testament, the prophets would come and say repent and sometimes the people would actually kill them.  Jesus had a relative that was killed recently. Who was that?  (John the Baptist)  And Jesus is about to get killed.

Verse 7 - “The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.”

The King is mad and rightly so.  They’ve killed his servant and refused to come to the wedding feast.

Verse 8 - “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.”

This is a key part.  Jesus said - Those I invited did not deserve to come. They weren’t worthy to come to the feast. 

Why is it that they aren’t worthy? What have they done?

They refused the King’s invitation to the wedding party for his son.  They didn’t want to be bothered. They said, “We don’t need your party.”  We’re good enough. It is because of this attitude that the king says they aren’t worthy.

If you find yourself thinking I want Jesus. I want to be there with the King’s son. I want to be at the wedding party at the end.  Then that is a good sign that you aren’t one of the unworthy ones that are spoken about here.  If you love Jesus then you aren’t unworthy.  Even Christians make mistakes.  Our mistakes don’t disqualify us.

The only people who are unworthy are the ones who have chosen not to have anything to do with Jesus.

Verse 9 - “So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.”

Wow – what a generous king!  Invite them all in. They can all come.

When you were reading about the first guests, were you thinking about all the wealthy people being invited?  Here the king says – go and get everyone.

Verse 10 -“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.”

What – both bad and good?

They were all invited to the wedding party.  The king doesn’t have a problem with bad people. (The way society views people as bad)  Who do you think are bad people?  thieves, liars, murderers…  What does it take for me to be called a thief?  Did you ever take someone else’s pencil and not give it back.  You knew it wasn’t yours….  does that make you a thief?

I am still trying to figure out how that works? The king and his son are going to have a big party at the end and bad people are going to be there.  When I have a party I don’t usually invite bad people.  I don’t want my house trashed.  I don’t want my stuff broken or stolen.  I just don’t want “bad” people in my house.  Not this king.  He said bring them all in.

Verse 11 - ““But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.”

So the king comes in and sees all the people.  Does he say, “hey, why are there bad people in my house?”  No.  He knows they are there. 

What is the one thing he spots?

In that culture, when you went to a wedding, there were special clothes you would wear – especially if it is the king’s wedding party.  In fact, some kings actually provided the clothes for the guests to put on.

All the people put the robes on – good and bad.  That is all except one guy who said, “I’m not going to wear this thing. I don’t need this robe. I’m fine the way I am.” And so he is at the party without the robe.

That is the thing that the king spots.

What is this robe?

Remember this is a parable and the robe symbolizes something.

All the people wearing the robes all look the same. The good and the bad.  It doesn’t matter that they are bad. It looks like they have never sinned. They look like the righteous.

Except the one man. Look how the king responds to the attitude the man has who thinks he doesn’t need the robe.

Verses 12&13 - “He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.  “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.’”

This is an image of hell.  This person can’t come into heaven. He isn’t clothed the right way. He is a bad person. He can’t come to the party. He will ruin the party. He must have the robe to come to the party.

All of these robed people who are at the party, is it because of anything special they have done?   No.  They simply accepted the invitation to come and put on the robe.

Jesus says in verse 14,“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

God says to the whole world, “Come to my party.”

Some people say, “No, I don’t want to come.”

Some say, “I’ll come but I’m not wearing your clothes, I’ve got my own righteousness. I’m good enough.”

Still others accept the robe from the king and put it on and go to the party.

The robe symbolizes the offer of salvation.  It is a free gift offered to every person.  You simply have to choose to accept it from God. Once you accept the gift of salvation, his robe of blood covers your sin.  The fun part about this robe is once you put it on, it doesn’t come back off.  Your name is now written in the Lamb’s book of life and you are going to the big party with Jesus.

In summary, God has sent you an invitation for the wedding feast. What choice will you make?

Will you ignore it because you have better things to do?

Will you get mad at the person who delivers the invitation.

Will you try to come without your robe?

Or, will you accept the invitation, put on the robe, and party with Jesus.


Ok – now that you’ve read it.  This is my lesson for Junior Church on Sunday.  What do you think?

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