Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

by Crossings

Crossing The Wedding Banquet
Matthew 22:1-14
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
(Proper 23–Sunday between October 9 and 15 Inclusive)
analysis by Janet Racen

1Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2″The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, `Tell those who have been invited, Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, `The wedding is ready, but those invited are not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was without a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, `Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are called, but few are chosen.”

DIAGNOSIS: Invitations

Step 1-Initial Diagnosis: Preparation
Imagine being invited to a prince’s wedding feast! The formal invitation has arrived. The preparations are well underway and everyone is glowing with anticipation. In biblical times it was customary to come dressed for the street and don the special guest’s wedding robe provided by the groom’s father. We can imagine all this excitement because even today we follow the news tidbits when royalty is involved. When visiting other countries with royal families we unfailingly go to the palace hoping for a glimpse of something, anything which we can report on after returning home. However in this text, Matthew throws us a little curve. He says that Jesus tells this story to illustrate how many people will react after receiving an invitation to the kingdom of God and his illustrations may hurt our pride. The feast is ready, and the personal invitation is given, “Come.” Of course we know how to prepare for such an event — who does Jesus think we are? We dress up and go to church, donate to good works, say the prayers, sing the hymns. Of course this is the answer to the call to the kingdom’s banquet! Or is it a respectable covering, a socially acceptable mask to cover our usual daily business?

Step 2-Advanced Diagnosis: Rejection
Again the invitation goes out and this time we see the hearts of the intended guests exposed in flatly rejecting the invitation. The banquet is cooked; the delicious food is ready to serve. Some reject the invitation because of apathy — the invitation’s too much trouble to answer. Some lash out violently — they grab the king’s servants, abuse them and kill them. Some show up, but refuse the king’s garments, refuse the king’s robe. We fail to understand the drama as it unfolds with us as the main players. The invitation to the Wedding Banquet is prepared especially for us, but our response is, “Who needs the King?” We can lead our own lives without help.

Step 3-Final Diagnosis: Destruction
The king is upset, to put it mildly, so he does what kings have always done. He sends in the troops. Kill the murderers, no pandering to their rights in this regime. They had three invitations, the customary Triune announcement, every opportunity, and scorned the meaning and value of the Feast. Their city was burned into oblivion. To scorn the King is Death, maybe not today, but the Day will come.


Step 4-Initial Prognosis: All Come
However, that is not the last word from the king. The Son, Guest of Honor himself at this Feast of the Lamb, took the sins of the rejecting guests onto Himself and with these, the king’s wrath. The Wedding Banquet will go on — but under a different kind of management. The invitation is now reissued to those whom the servants find in the streets, the good and the bad. All who will may come. The Groom himself has taken the blame of the ungrateful guests onto himself and the feast is renewed. He who was tortured and hung naked on the cross becomes The Righteous Covering graciously gifted by the King without cost to the believer, though it comes at the Greatest Cost/Cross to the King, our Father.

Step 5-Advanced Prognosis: The Wedding Robes
Those who now come, the good and the bad, no longer need trust in their own preparations for the feast, they are given special wedding banquet attire by the king. They do not rely on their own authority to be properly clothed. They accept the Covering the King provides for them. He prepares this special robe in their lives at this special time of His calling for them. They have been saved from the destruction and desolation of the ones who refused the invitation. They put on the Robe of Christ.

Step 6- Final Prognosis: Rejoice in the Banquet
Those who remain are the chosen who can rejoice in having been called, and even beyond that, they can rejoice in being found obedient to the king’s command. (Amazing, that robe and promising invitation!) The guests at the Feast of the Lamb can praise the King and rejoice with Him for all eternity. While living in this world, they worship and sing praise in thanksgiving, already rejoicing in the King’s feast. They invite others to the King’s party, sharing with anyone in the highways and byways of life what the King has done for them and what he is willing to do for all who come. And when their earthly days are finished, the feast will continue, with a fullness and completion marking the joy we already share by faith in the Wedding Feast of the Father’s Lamb and His Bride, the Church.


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