Do we truly appreciate what God is offering us? The Gospel passage assigned to this week is parable of the wedding banquet recorded in Matthew’s Gospel.
The meaning of this parable is very similar to that of the parable of the tenants which has already been covered last week. That is, it had a very specific meaning for a specific group of people at the time. The guests who were invited to the wedding banquet were the Jews. At the beginning of the Bible, the Jews were set aside as God’s chosen people (for the feast). Then Jesus’ arrival marked the time when the preparations were finally ready. Yet, even though they received this early warning they contemptuously refused the final invitation. The result was that the invitation of God went out to others in the highways and byways or on ‘the street corners’ (these were the sinners and the Gentiles). Verse 7 seems strangely out of place. To have your city burnt because you refused a wedding invitation may seem harsh. However, if Matthew was writing his Gospel after AD 70, he would have witnessed the brutal destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army where people were murdered. Perhaps if the Jewish nation had fully accepted Jesus and shown love, humility, and self-sacrifice to their Roman oppressors then their city would never have been attacked and burned in the first place. In this literal sense, refusal of the invitation did indeed lead to murder and burning of the city. But in addition to this specific message, there are at least 4 other, broader, messages of this passage. Firstly, it reminds us that God’s invitation is a joyful celebration – just like a wedding. Secondly, it reminds us that putting our livelihood and business first, although not bad in themselves, are not conducive to a full life. A person can be so busy making a living that they forget to make a life. Thirdly, while those who refused to come were punished, the real tragedy was greater than this. The real tragedy was that they missed out on receiving the kingdom of God. Finally, these 10 verses reinforce the fact that the invitation is an invitation of pure grace. Those of us in the highways and byways or on the street corners did not deserve or even expect this glorious invitation; and yet we have it.
Do we truly appreciate what God is offering to us? The answer is clearly no, but God offers it just the same.
Old Testament reading for this week: Exodus 32:1-14
Gospel reading for this week: Matthew 22:1-14
Epistle reading for this week: Philippians 4:1-9
Psalm for this week: Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23