Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 143; 147:12-20, Numbers 23:11-26, Romans 8:1-11, Matthew 22:1-14
After the Parable of the Husbandmen, Matthew presents us the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. In the first parable, a landowner hired tenants to farm his vineyard. When he sent his servants and son to collect, the tenants killed them. The landowner killed the tenants and replaced them with more suitable staff.
In the second parable, a king prepares a wedding banquet for his son. He sends servants to gather the invited guests, but the guests refuse to come. He sends more servants, who share details about the sumptuous feast, but the guests seize, mistreat, and kill them. After the king’s army destroys those who rejected him, he sends more servants to invite anyone they can find, until the wedding hall is filled. One guest is inexplicably without wedding clothes, and the king throws him out.
We could interpret these parables as lessons about a harsh God, but these stories – especially read back-to-back without the artificial separation of chapters – say something more poignant. In both parables, the God figure generously invites people to participate in his abundance. The people not only repeatedly reject his offers, they kill his true servants. More than simple disobedience, or even indifference, the rejection is a deep betrayal. These lessons say God’s default attitude toward us is one of eager welcome, and that trying his patience to the breaking point takes some serious effort.
When the king invites the second group of guests to the banquet, he makes no distinction between good and bad. The guest who rejects the wedding clothes (which would have been provided by the king) has already been forgiven, and still chooses to dishonor his benefactor. When we accept the invitation to God’s banquet, Christ has already wiped the slate for us prior to our arrival, but we would be foolish to take it for granted.
No matter what harsh teachings you may hear, remember God does not eagerly pounce on your failure, but desires you to enjoy life in his abundance. It is not something we can win or that God capriciously takes from us, but it is ours to lose.
Comfort: God is rooting for you to accept Him.
Challenge: Some people are determined to reject God. We are still to love them.
Prayer: Generous God, thank your for the life of abundance you freely offer. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever felt like rejecting God? What did you do?
Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!