Tuesday Reflections – Matthew 22:1-14

Matthew 22:1-14

1 Jesus also told them other parables. He said,2 "The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son.3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

  4 "So he sent other servants to tell them, `The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!'5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business.6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

  7 "The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town.8 And he said to his servants, `The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren't worthy of the honor.9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.'10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.

  11 "But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn't wearing the proper clothes for a wedding.12 `Friend,' he asked, `how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?' But the man had no reply.13 Then the king said to his aides, `Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

  14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."

This text doesn't say what I want it to.  The message that I want to hear is that, everyone is alright exactly as they are… that God loves us and has no expectation that we will change.  This is what I want this text to say… or is it.  It is ABSOLUTELY TRUE that God loves us — and that love is not something that is now or ever will be based on merit.  Jesus' love reaches out to us and loves us where we are, exactly as we are.  What is also true, however, is that his love for us is so great that it refuses to allow us to remain in the condition in which he finds us.  When I think about it… that's what I really want.  I don't want to be who I am apart from the love of Jesus.  In him I have a new identity… new clothes, if you will that look like love and justice and truth and mercy and holiness.  These aren't clothes I can really afford… I can't work hard enough to earn them by myself… and I certainly can't make them.  That would really be a mess.  

Imagine if it were any different.  Jesus would love the murderer and the thief… the child abuser and the con-artist, yet have no expectation that their behavior would change.  In Romans (13:14) the writer (Paul) says, "clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don't let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires."  I would imagine that the "dress code" for this wedding banquet looks a whole lot like that.  When we come to know Jesus and the love he has for us, the way we live changes to reflect the fact that we now know exactly who we are.  Following Jesus is more than just behavior modification, but the way we behave — what we do — becomes different.  Our past (the things we have done and left undone) no longer defines us, but with new life comes a new way of life.  The point of this text is not who gets kicked out of the party.  The point (at least as I understand it) is that ALL are invited, but with that invitation comes challenge… the challenge is to live like the chosen people we are.

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