Greeting: Peace to all of you who are in Jesus Christ,
Text: 1) 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. 3) He 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. 6) The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7) The king was enraged. The 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. 9) God to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find. 10) So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
A husband and wife in their early forties attended a high school baseball game. They sat on the first base side very close to the playing field. When the starting home team pitcher took the mound and began his work, the couple took turns making loud remarks. “All those years of practice! Didn’t you learn anything about pitching.” “Your arthritic grandmother could throw a ball harder than that.” “I could throw more accurately than that with a blindfold on.” “If you can’t do better than that, give it up and stop embarrassing yourself.” Inning after inning, the harsh comments kept coming. Finally, another spectator had heard enough. He walked over to the couple and asked them, “Please tell me, just why are you yelling at the pitcher like that?” The couple turned to him, smiled and said, “Oh, that pitcher on the mound. He is our son. We just came to give him some encouragement.” OK. Well, if those were my parents with their ideas about encouragement, I would just as soon not get any.
I truly hope there aren’t any real life parents like that. But I believe that there are people who are under the impression that God talks to us the way the parents in the story spoke to their son – hazing him, criticizing him, berating and belittling him. If that is our impression, we need to think again. Because far from being a insensitive Discourager, God is a very strong and caring Encourager. He encourages us for our benefit and He encourages us to encourage others for their benefit. He speaks to us, not as a critical adversary, but rather as a compassionate friend. The Gospel lesson for today emphasizes this truth very well. Listen to these love-filled words and received God’s encouragement about encouraging others.
1 Our King Delights To Favor Us
In the parable of the Wedding Banquet, Jesus talks about a king who has a son. The king in the story is imaginary, but there is a real King to whom the story points, the great, unseen King who is God. Many question, scoff, doubt and deny the existence of God. But they are wrong. God the King does exist and He is a kind and good king. It is Jesus who makes this King and His kingdom known to us.
In the story Jesus tells, the king prepares a wedding feast for his son and his bride. He makes elaborate preparations. This wedding feast has the best of everything. It is a great event. He sends invitations to people letting them know that he wants them to come and share in the joy and plenty of the feast.
So, too, God the real King has prepared a heavenly banquet for people to enjoy. It is a joyous celebration of God’s giving and forgiving love for people. It is a feast where there is plenty of the finest of everything to satisfy the needs of all. No detail is forgotten. Nothing is missing to make this celebration complete. Everything is delightfully prepared to make the guests feel welcome, included and cared for. It is a party that rejoices in what God’s Son has done by His life, death and resurrection to unite people again with their God and give them His favor forever.
As the king in the story delighted in sharing his blessings with his guests, so God delights to share His blessings with us. Again and again, in the Bible, we are told how God shows His undeserved favor on the most unlikely of people. God shows His favor to Abraham the wanderer, to Jacob the deceptive sibling, to Rahab the prostitute, to Ruth the widowed Gentile, to David the baby of the family, to Mary the lowly virgin, to Paul the self-righteous Pharisee. This same God delights to show His favor to all. He delights to show his favor to you and me with all our sins and failings, all weaknesses and shortcomings.
2. Our King Persists To Include Us
The king in Jesus’ parable is not only kind. His is also very persistent, even when his kindness is not readily accepted. Notice that the king extends three invitations to the original guests. They were invited long before the wedding took place. When everything was ready, they were reminded personally by the king’s servants. When they ignored the servants, other servants were sent to remind them again.. The king went so far as to send the third invitation after he had been purposely snubbed. The king lets his wrath fall only when it is clear that the invited guests are hardened and murderous rebels.
The king shows his further persistence to have people come and enjoy the wedding banquet when he sends His servants to find and invite others, near or far away, easy to identify or hard to reach, outwardly good or bad in character. The king’s persistence produces results are guests are found and welcomed to the feast.
As the king persisted in his loving purpose, so God persists in His loving purposes also. Just think of how persistent God has been in His love for you. If you were the king in the story, how many invitations would you have given before you gave up or got angry? Our patience in dealing with the reluctant and stubborn can easily be exhausted. How many times has God invited you to receive His blessings and favor? Hundreds of times? Thousands of times? Think of how Jesus Christ persisted in winning salvation for us – all those hard, temptation-filled years, all that opposition and ridicule, all the force of God’s curse for all our sins on His lonely soul! Think of how God persists in distributing salvation’s benefits to people. The Gospel is sent out in broadcasts, printed materials, personal preaching, teaching and witnessing. And each time it is a sincere invitation in which God includes us and invites us to receive His saving love - a love that is to be embraced so that we do not have to feel His wrath.
It is an encouraging message we hear and that we share: God is deeply interested in you. God is so interested that He tries repeatedly to reach you and strengthen you. See God’s persistent love for what it is. Don’t take all those Gospel opportunities for granted, take them for the great treasure they are. Do not ignore them, cherish them and use them. And do your best to be persistent in passing them on to others.
3. Our King Desires To Employ Us
Now we turn our attention to the king and his servants in the parable. The king’s servants were willing, loyal brave people whom the king used to extend his invitations.
As the king used his servants to be messengers of welcome and love, so God desires to use us. He makes us His ambassadors. He gives us the message of reconciliation in Christ to share with others. He gives us the commission to go into the word and share the Gospel.
Let us be willing to do the Lord’s will. The servants in the story had the attitude: “The king’s wishes must be carried out regardless of the inconvenience or cost to us. We are to be faithful to His wishes and go where we must to carry out His will.
Let this be our mindset toward our God’s given mission. God has given us the message of eternal life in Jesus Christ. We have been given the life-giving truth of God’s Word. There are many, many people who need to hear and receive this message. Let us be a servant people who hold firm to God’s truth and who offer is enthusiastically to all we can. We should have the attitude toward others; “You simply must enjoy God’s love for us in Jesus with us.”
As God has encouraged us, let us encourage one another. Our King delights to favor us. Our King persists to include us. Our King desires to employ us. Yes, oh yes, He does. Encouraged by God Himself, let us encourage others to share in the joy of God’s favor for all. Amen.