What have you done with your invitation to the biggest celebration on earth? In a discussion with the religious, self-righteous leaders of His day, Jesus addressed this question in The Parable of the Wedding Banquet (see Matthew 22:1-14).
The Invitation Rejected (Matthew 22:1-7)
Jesus began the story by setting the scene. He described a king’s invitation to a countrywide wedding celebration for his son. The party would last for several days, probably an entire week. The food would be exquisite. The hired chef was expected to perform at the top of his culinary game. He would have to return his fee plus a penalty if he embarrassed the king. Guests would drink undiluted wine from expensive glassware. Even the invitations were delivered with fanfare. Each guest received his invitation well in advance of the celebration with notice of others who had been invited. Either the day prior to or the day of the festivities, a second invitation was delivered by a messenger who brought a personal summons from the king.
Jesus’ story brought a countercultural surprise. The people had rejected the kings’ first and second invitations with flippant excuses and some with fierce hatred. This was indicative of the Pharisees’ response to Jesus. The story’s enraged king brought forth death and fire, his most serious penalty for treason or revolt against his kingdom. Jesus’ imagery probably referred to the eventual destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD.
What excuse are you using to reject the invitation to the kingdom of God? Is it a desire to maintain control of your time, talent, and treasure? Is it manifested in an illicit relationship, a click, a drink, a smoke, a toke, a binge, a cut, a pop of a pill, a morsel of gossip, a rollercoaster commitment to a career, or even religion? Whatever the excuse, it flows from a proud heart.
The Invitation Readdressed (Matthew 22:8-10)
The king had deemed the proud rejecters, the privileged few, as undeserving of his invitation (see Matthew 22:8). These were Israel’s religious, self-righteous leaders and any who had followed them in hardness of heart. Next, the king did something radically uncharacteristic of a monarch in Palestine. He invited everyone to the celebration, both good and bad. He commanded his servants to go to the street corners and invite “Anyone you find” (Matthew 22:9), which they did until the wedding hall was filled to capacity” (see Matthew 22:10). Jesus had continually preached this availability of the kingdom of God to all sinners (see Matthew 9:12-13).
Are you delivering God’s open kingdom invitation to anyone you find? If not, you probably have rejected His invitation to the celebration of His kingdom inaugurated by the coming of His Son.