A Hall Full Of Guest
I. Each One Invited By Grace
II. A Hall With No Room For Those Who Can’t Make Room For Jesus.
In the name of the King calling us to His Wedding Banquet, dear children of God,
The earliest Sunday school lesson I can remember was the story of the crowded house where Jesus was teaching. The house was so crowded that when some men came with their paralyzed friend they could not get close to Jesus. So the friends went up on the roof and broke open a whole to lower the man down in front of Jesus. Shortly thereafter there was the story of the Feeding of the 5,000 where Jesus did the miracle of feeding them all with a few fish and scraps of bread. Or the crowds pressing around Jesus when the woman who had been sick for years just touched the edge of his garment and was healed. When I think of crowds around Jesus I think of the crowds of saints and angels singing Jesus’ praise in heaven in John’s revelation vision. I occurs to me that as good as Jesus is one on one sitting with Nicodemus at night or sitting and listening to my rambling fragmented prayers that Jesus loves a crowd of people. Today in God’s word he pictures for us a crowd of people in a wedding hall-A Hall Full of Guests! I. Each one invited by grace. II. A hall with no room for those who can’t make room for Jesus.
Jesus is speaking these words on the Tuesday before he would suffer and die on the cross. The rumble of his enemies has now turned into a roar against him. The Pharisees want to know from Jesus "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?" They were talking about the authority to do the things only God can do, like forgive sins and invite to heaven. Jesus answers their sassy question with a parable about a King who wanted a hall full of guests. ““The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.” What a happy time! While the way that we do weddings today might bring a little bit of stress they are a fun and happy time. Here’s a king who wants to share the joy of his son getting married with all of his friends. He wants to have a hall full of guests to share his happy day with. The invitations are sent out. “3He sent out his servants to summon those who were invited to the wedding banquet, but they did not want to come.” Now remember this is the king who is inviting. No one who is invited is on his level. They are invited by the goodness of the king.
God’s amazing love and man’s sinful stupidity don’t fit our way of thinking, so the parables Jesus tells about the Kingdom of God take some stunning turns sometimes. Think of the Father receiving back the prodigal son or the group of numb skulled tenants who though that if they killed the heir that the inheritance would belong to them. Imagine this, those invited don’t want anything to do with the king and his wedding. That would be like getting an invitation to a royal wedding and declining it because you are going to use that time to mow the yard. The gracious king still wants a hall full of guests. 4“Then he sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner. My oxen and my fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet!’ But now those invited really make clear that they didn’t deserved the invitation. 5“But those who were invited paid no attention and went off, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6The rest seized the king’s servants, mistreated them, and killed them.”
The King wanted a hall full of his friends to share his joy but those invited showed that that were not the king’s friends that they did not deserved his initial invitation nor his repeat invitation. Jesus was looking the Pharisees in the eye, calling to them, urging them to come to the Wedding Banquet the King of heaven and earth had prepared. He had made the preparations. He wanted a hall full of guests. But Jesus’ enemies threw aside God’s invitation. They made clear they were not worthy of the invitation.
In the second half of our Psalm for today, Psalm 23, God tells us that the Shepherd King invites to a dinner. He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. But remember the words of Scripture, “We all like sheep have gone astray.” Before we look down our noses at the Pharisees we recognize our own unworthiness. One of my daughters (I won’t say which one, but her name starts with B) was home this week for teachers’ Conference. Her car had a terrible odor in it. After some of my fatherly badgering she admitted that she had forgotten a gallon of milk in the back last week when it was so warm and it had sort of exploded with a stinky, curdly mess all over the back of the car. That stinky curdly mess is like even the very best of our actions. “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags,” the Bible tells us. That sin stink shows itself in our lives all too often, the words we say even to those close to us- the thoughts we think that we would never want anyone to see- the things we do when we think no one is watching. On top of this we act like there is no smell at all to our sin. We think we don’t we need Jesus too much. We push the King our out of life because we are too busy with other things. But the King wanted a hall full of guests. The King wanted you and me there. The King came himself. The King poured out his life so that we might have enjoy life-eternal life in heaven. He washed away the stench of sin. He did all that not because we deserved it. The king did it all because by grace-undeserved love. You and I have a place in the hall because of God’s grace.
Some of the other places Jesus used this parable put more emphasis on the shallow excuses the miserable invitees gave, but with Jesus’ enemies standing right there with their threatening chins sticking out the emphasis is more on how final and awful the rejection of the King’s invitation is. Listen. “7As a result, the king was very angry. He sent his army and killed those murderers and burned their town.” Sounds pretty final and awful! The King wants a hall full of guests. But there is no room here for anyone who doesn’t have room in his heart or life for the King.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9So go to the main crossroads and invite as many as you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10Those servants went out to the roads and gathered together everyone they found, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wearing wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. 13Then the king told the servants, ‘Tie him hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are called, but few are chosen.”
In Jesus’ day most people did not have a closet full of clothes nor a store nearby to pick out something nice to wear for the wedding. So it was pretty common practice to send wedding clothes along with the wedding invitation. Apparently there was one man in the crowd who felt he didn’t need the wedding clothes-that his old dirty clothes were just fine. His arrogance stood in stark contrast to the King’s graciousness. Again bringing home the finality of rejecting Jesus, the King throws him out of the Wedding. Lord keep me from that kind of arrogance! Keep that arrogance that thinks I don’t need Jesus far away. Keep that sinful stupidity that pushes Jesus out of our lives. The King wants a hall full of guests. But the truth is that there is no room for anyone there for whom there is no room for Jesus in there lives. By his grace the Lord has given us eternal life. Now would be a good time to re evaluate our lives. Now would be the time to check to see if the King and his kingdom have there proper place in our lives. Now would be the time to get rid of the things that are crowding the king out of our lives.
The King wants a hall full of guests! One of the children’s bulletins for today has a drawing of the King with the table and hall all prepared. There are all kinds of people in the street walking by. There are all kinds of people in the streets walking by today too. The king wants a hall full of guests. Let’s tell them. Let’s gather them. Let’s bring them. Amen.