Atonement

[Jesus sharing the parable of the wedding banquet] “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.’

For many are called, but few are chosen.”     Matthew 22:13-14 (NLT)

Lectionery texts: Exodus 32:1-14, Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14

This weekend, in the Jewish year, was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 16 is a good place to begin reading about it. After reading and discussing the lectionery texts, Henry and I spent time discussing the history of this day and what it meant then to Moses and the Israelites, and what it means now to us in the new covenant with Jesus. With these lectionery texts in my mind, the word “atonement” isn’t just about a day, is it?

Jesus shares a parable with the people about a king who prepares an extraordinary wedding feast. Jesus is our Bridegroom. We are His Bride. He came to make the perfect atonement so that His bride may be found spotless, without blemish.

All are invited to the feast. Jesus invites us all into a relationship with Him. He wants us to know that He loves us with an ever-lasting love and desires that we live for all eternity with Him.

Some refuse the invitation. It is hard to believe that the forgiveness of my sins is freely given. The concept that Jesus loved me before I knew Him, before I accepted Him, is overwhelming. Some people refuse to believe it’s true or they may decide that the cost of changing their lives is too large. They are blinded to eternity.

Some accept the invitation conditionally. I believe this is the man that Jesus describes as a guest without wedding garments. In my own local church and community I see people who are members of the church and believe that is all they have to do. They may not really believe in the One who has invited them into the feast but attending the feast is the “right” thing to do or the “acceptable” thing to do in their family or community. They do not want to change their clothes and become truly like the Bridegroom.

Some become totally committed. To me, the most beautiful, intimate moment in a wedding is that instant when the bride and groom first see each other. All the words that cannot be expressed are in their eyes and are expressed. All the preparations and headaches to get to this moment are forgotten in that moment of fulfillment and love. The two become one. That is what God asks of me. He wants us to become one. I cannot be divided in my love or loyalty. God asks for my total commitment.

As I continue my journey toward that promised wedding feast, I find there are still some difficult roads that I must walk. But I have my wedding clothes on. I am committed to my Bridegroom. And grateful beyond any words for the atonement that He has already made and given to me.

Praise the Lord!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord?
Who can ever praise him enough?
There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right.

Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me.
Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones.
Let me rejoice in the joy of your people; let me praise you with those who are your heritage.    Psalm 106:1-5 (NLT)

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