Invitation And Response

Thursday, March 07, 2013, 6:58 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Crown Him with Many Crowns” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Matthew 22:1-14 (ESV):

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The Invitation

Jesus was describing the kingdom of heaven. As we have already learned through other passages of scripture, including in the book of Isaiah and in the Gospels, the kingdom of heaven is Jesus Christ – his deity, his life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension into heaven, his second coming, his millennial kingdom reign and rule on the earth, and him as forever King. In other words, he is the embodiment of the kingdom. The kingdom is also his salvation, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the saints of God (the body of Christ) - heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God, and Mount Zion (the church), and eternity with God in glory!

The king is God the Father. The Son is Jesus Christ. Since Jesus was using this parable as a comparison to the kingdom of heaven, the invitation, thus, was not just to the wedding supper of the Lamb at the end of time as we know it, but it was in invitation into the kingdom of heaven. In other words, this was an invitation to accept Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah and Savior of the people, an invitation to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to salvation by grace through faith, and an invitation to spend eternity with God in glory. As well, it was an invitation into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ as friend, lover, Savior, Lord (master) and King – to serve him and to obey him all our days. Yet, the invitation to his banquet is a symbol of an invitation to faith that endures to the end.

Those who were invited first were the Jews of Jesus’ time. Notice that they had already been invited and now it was time for the wedding feast, so they were being called upon to attend. The nation of Israel, i.e. the Jewish people of old had been given the gospel through Isaiah, the Psalms and other OT prophets, but also through other OT books in the Bible. So, they knew that a Messiah was to come as the Savior of the people. The invitation had gone out many, many years before. Now the Messiah (the kingdom of heaven) was among them and they were being called upon to accept him as thus, to receive his salvation and his gospel, and to put their hope and trust in him alone as their Lord (God) and Savior.

The Response

Yet they, as a nation, refused God’s invitation. So, he called them again, but they paid no attention, and they went about their business as usual. Some of them persecuted and even killed God’s servants and messengers, including they killed God’s Son. So, God was angry and he sent judgment upon them, he rejected them as a people of God, they were cut off of the vine and the gospel was given to the Gentiles. The Jews were cut off due to unbelief, but they can be (and are) grafted back into the vine through faith in Jesus Christ (see Ro. 11).

Yet, lest we should feel superior somehow concerning the fact that the Jewish nation was broken off and we were grafted into the vine, we must remember that they were broken off due to unbelief and that we stand only by faith, which is a gift from God. Should we not continue in God’s kindness (his grace), we, too, can be cut off from the vine (see Ro. 11).

Now, I know this might raise all kinds of theological eyebrows, but the fact remains that scripture teaches that true faith is enduring faith - continuous, persevering, and faithful to the end (see the letters to the seven churches in Rev. 2-3; also see 1 Co. 15:2; Col. 1:21-23; 2 Tim. 2:10-13; Heb. 3:14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; 1 John 2:24-25; et al). I believe that is the picture here with the invitation to the wedding supper of the Lamb. Many are called, but few are chosen, i.e. few accept God’s invitation to his Son and to salvation, i.e. to the cross of Christ, to death to sin and self, and to obedience to his commands.

The church is the Body of Christ, i.e. it is comprised of true followers of Jesus Christ, yet there is also the institutional church or public gatherings of the church where others besides true followers meet with the church. They, too, have received the invitation to the wedding banquet, as have all who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet not all have responded with genuine faith, though some think they have, but have not. So, God is calling again to those who have already been invited to accept the invitation to the banquet, i.e. this is a call to genuine, enduring, continuous, obedient and repentant faith that lasts to the end.

And, many within the institutional church of today, and not just here in America, are refusing the invitation to the banquet, they are ignoring the calls to come to the wedding feast, they are going about their business – life as usual – and they are even persecuting, mocking and rejecting those servants of God giving the call. And, I am not speaking here of those who obviously are refusing God’s invitation, either, but of those who, by their lifestyles, are refusing God’s invitation to righteousness and holy living, to repentance, and to obedience. Thus, they are refusing, ignoring and even persecuting the true gospel of Jesus Christ through which they can make themselves ready for the wedding banquet (see Luke 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6; Gal. 2:20; and the book of 1 John; et al).

We learn in Revelation 19 that those who are ready for the banquet are those who have made themselves ready, and it has been granted for them to clothe themselves with fine linen, bright and pure (the appropriate wedding attire), “for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (see Rev. 19:6-8). The saints clothed in righteousness follow the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and they obey him. Those who show up, perhaps giving the appearance of having accepted the invitation, but are not dressed in the appropriate wedding attire will be cast out into utter darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

So, this is a call to make sure you have repented of your sins, you have turned to walk in faithful obedience to Jesus Christ, and that you have made Jesus Christ truly Lord of your life. If you have not, then I pray you will do so today so that you are not caught not having the appropriate attire (God’s righteousness and purity). I pray you will make Jesus Christ truly King of your life, that you will awake from your spiritual slumber, and that you will rise to give Him praise, honor and glory by your life for all that he has done for you (for us).

Crown Him with Many Crowns / Matthew Bridges / Godfrey Thring / George J. Elvey

Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne,
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.

Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed o'er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing,
who died, and rose on high,
who died, eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

Crown him the Lord of love;
behold his hands and side,
those wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
For thou hast died for me;
thy praise and glory shall not fail
throughout eternity.