1Jesus answered again by speaking to them in parables. He said, 2“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who hosted the wedding feast for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, but they didn’t want to come. 4He sent other slaves out again, and told them, ‘Tell those who were invited, “Look! My dinner is prepared, my bulls and fatted calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast!”‘ 5But they weren’t interested and went away, one to his farm, one to his place of business. 6The rest seized his slaves, abused them and killed them. 7So the king was angry and sent his troops to kill those murderers and burn their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding feast is prepared, but those who were invited weren’t worthy. 9Go then into the main highways and invite as many people as you can find to the wedding feast.’ 10So the slaves went out into the highways and gathered everyone they found, bad and good, and the wedding feast had plenty of guests. — Matthew 22:1-10
We humans are kind of funny from time to time. We can’t imagine how God would have any particular interest in us. Sometimes it’s just our own unworthiness. Who could possibly want to spend time with me? Surely not the infinite God, ruler of the universe! I’m really not all that interesting!
At other times, our theology get in the way. We have all these big words to describe Godâ€”omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, sovereign, holy–and by the time all is said and done we’re not entirely sure just who God actually is. It’s really hard to get cuddly with a whole bunch of theological terms.
Sometimes it’s our own reading of scripture that bothers us. We read stories of judgment on people who have been rebellious, or we read that the way is narrow and only a few people find it. We think that â€œnarrow wayâ€ defines God’s interest. He makes the way narrow so that only the very worthy can get in. I have encountered people who were afraid to talk about God’s love and his passion for bringing his people home because they were afraid it would make the way seem too wide. But perhaps when God says that the way is narrow and only a few people find it, he is lamenting the fact that way too few find the way to the kingdom.
This parable, I think, points in that direction. God wants to have his kingdom filled with guests. He invites people, but some of them don’t want to hear or respond to the invitation. Some don’t even appreciate the invitation from the king. But when all else fails he sends out slaves (that’s us!) to find as many people as they can, both bad and good, and bring them into the kingdom.
We might be tempted to say that those early guests were left out because they were bad people, or because they failed some moral test or didn’t understand some fine point of doctrine. After all that’s how we exclude people in our lives.
But notice that God doesn’t say, â€œGo out and find some good people.â€ He says to go out and grab everyone. He wants a full feast. He wants lots of people in the kingdom. He wants you in the kingdom. He wants your loved ones in the kingdom. He wants your friends in the kingdom. He wants your enemies in the kingdom.
What is the only reason given in this parable for excluding someone? They didn’t want to come! All the rest were welcome. (Verses 11-14 add another dimension, but that’s another devotional.)
The invitation is open to be a guest at God’s party. Enjoy it!