Come to the Banquet
Come to the Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14)
The rule of God in life is a great feast, not a sad fast. The kingdom of God is often compared to a wedding feast. In Jesus' world this was an occasion of joy and significance. The feast lasted for seven days. The significance of the wedding for a king's son is even greater. The king recognized the son as heir to the throne at the wedding feast. In every generation, God gives a wedding feast and invites all to come. The feast recognizes the royalty of His Son, our Lord Jesus. Some do come. Many refuse to come. But God's grace will ultimately draw a large number to that eternal celebration.
God gives a gracious invitation to come to His Son, but He examines those who do come.
The King Extends His Invitation Graciously
The King extends His invitation initially. In Jesus' world there were two invitations to a banquet. The initial invitation was days before. The immediate invitation was given when the banquet was ready, for there were no timepieces. Here the King calls those who were already called.
Historically, God invited the Jews to His kingdom through the prophets who told of the good time coming. That was the advance invitation. Immediately God called the Jews through John the Baptist and Jesus' own ministry. But they refused to come.
Personally, God calls each of us initially and immediately. Everything about our lives is part of our call toward Him. Many of us, however, refuse that initial and immediate call.
The King extends His invitation persistently. An ordinary king would have been insulted. This King is one of grace and mercy who gives repeated calls to come. He renews His call by stressing the urgency. Everything is ready (v. 4). He commends His call by stressing the excellency of the feast. The choicest food is waiting and prepared (v. 4). This King has prepared such a feast as only a King could prepare.
Historically, God persisted in His appeal to the Jews. Following the crucifixion of Jesus, the apostles repeated the invitation to the Jews. They enlarged it and pressed it persistently.
Personally, has not God done the same for you? Through life's ups and downs, sermons, churches, and Christian friends He has appealed for you to come.
Many reject the invitation of the King. Some reject the invitation through indifference. They simply make light of it and go to their other interests. Others reject the invitation with viciousness. They violently reject the messengers and their message. There is a limit to the grace of the King. Judgment has the last word on those who reject His gracious offer (v. 7).
The King Enlarges His Invitation Generously
If you do not accept the King's invitation, others will. The grace of God will not be defeated. He will gather a great people. Whether or not you come, others will.
The King enlarges the scope of His invitation. He sends His servants to the "street corners." This refers to the terminal ends of the roads that bring people from far and near. He extends His invitation where the maximum numbers of people may hear and respond. Historically, when the Jews of Jerusalem rejected the gospel, He extended it to the entire world. Personally, when you reject the gospel He can extend it to the others who will respond.
The King enlarged the recipients of His invitation. At first He offered it to the respectable and the righteous. When they refused, He invited all indiscriminately, "both good and bad" (v. 10). Historically, when the outwardly religious Jews rejected the gospel, the apostles took it to the pagan Gentiles who responded with joy. God will find a way to see that His feast is full. When the Old World was weary with the gospel it moved to a new world. Now the gospel moves toward the Third World. God will have a people.
The King Examines Those Invited
The supreme moment comes when the King enters to view those gathered at the banquet. It is a moment of joy and privilege for all. One must note the reality of the examination. The King did not come looking for an unprepared guest. He could not help but see that there was one, but only one.
The reason for the King's examination is obvious. One must be attired appropriately at a king's feast. Most believe that the king provided the garments he required. This was often a custom in the ancient world, especially when guests were quickly brought in from the streets. Certainly God provides the covering of righteousness which we need to attend His final feast.
The reaction of the unprepared guest is instructive. He is simply speechless. Nothing can be said when the grace of the King provides what the law of the King demands. Those not prepared to stand in God's presence will have nothing to say.
The result of the examination is to be sent outside the feast (v. 13). From the brightness of the Kings feast to the darkness outside is a striking contrast.
Come to the feast with the garment the King provides.