Everyday we are asked to make choices. Am I going to wake up so I can get to work on time…Am I going to eat breakfast. Am I going to eat a breakfast that could put me in a coma it it is so full of sugar or am I going to eat well… I get cut off in traffic and spill my coffee all over myself…Am I going to say bad things about them and speed up shaking my fist in the air! Am I going to take time to read to my son or am I going to sit in front of the T.V. ignoring his crys of Daddy, daddy daddy will you…Daddy daddy will you read to me…
Matthew 22: 1-14
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
One can hardly begin to understand why the king would be so harsh to this person not dressed in wedding clothes! What is going on here in this passage? We have people being murdered just because they invited people to a wedding not once but on two occasions, then we have a king who is enraged and sends his army to destroy the murders and burn the city! Then we have a king who invites others to come because the original invitations were given to people who did not serve to come. Lastly we have this man who shows up dressed inappropriately and therefore is left to darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth! What just happened? Did we miss something here? As a matter of fact we did. You see this parable has to be read in its context. Starting at Matthew chapter 21:28
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
The Parable of the Tenants
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“ ‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstonea;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’b?
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”c
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
3 choices are made in this parable that we are asked to make daily in our lives.
The first one is Choosing to Forget
In the parable of the two sons 21:30 we have a son who forgets! Choosing to forget, choosing to leave something behind. How many of us have done what this son did? Not feel like going to that work party even though you said you would so you make up your mind to forget it! You stop worrying about that homework assignment, “oh I forgot” That person who called that you really didn’t want to talk to…”Sorry I ‘forgot’ to call you back. Reading what happens in the parable of the tenants its more than forgetting…Its losing all control and forgetting who is in charge of the vineyard! Their forgetfulness leads them to kill the heir, the vineyard owners son! Their forgetfulness is one of resistance. The vineyard was suppose to create great fruit…They had squandered that opportunity and now sought to rule the vineyard ( a place that was suppose to be beautiful) in a way that they wished! Their way produced a withered and empty harvest. Surely Jesus was indeed doing as verse 43 states. HE was talking about the Pharisees who were squandering an opportunity to bring peace into the world! He’s also talking to us reminding us of the opportunity we have here on earth
I believe this evening Matthew 21:1-14 is speaking to us about us! Are we choosing to forget? Are we forgetting how awesome, and amazing the presence of God is, how freeing and are we missing out on the opportunity to share Christ’s love with our world because we to resist just as the vineyard workers? Are we too like the son who tells his father I will do everything that you ask…Then sit around worried about our own business? You see verse three should convict all of us in some way…“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business…Jesus sure your important, sure following you is priority but have you seen this world we live in? Why is it so crucial that I be so concerned about others all the time. I need to take care of myself! My family… If you would have given me more money I would be able to care for more people but instead here I am working in the fields earning my living, Jesus I am at the office, at WORK JESUS! I think we all have had these thoughts. IT should convict us when we read these parables this evening! We have fallen into the trap that life is all about ME! MY FAMILY, MY CHURCH. Jesus is using the parable of the vineyard which is so awesome to think about. It is laboring work working in a vineyard under the hot son but seeing the fruit is worth all the labor. You pour all of yourself into this plant that may be knocked over by a huge storm each night you lay down your head. You spend all your energy, your very blood nurturing this plant so it will bear fruit. Which would produce the wine they could sell that would provide for their families. It is an outpouring so similar to what Christ calls for us to do with each person in or world!
The first choice we see in these parables is a choice we are given every day. ARE we are going to FORGET why we are here?
The second choice in these parables is… Are we choosing to be Faithful. The first son rejected his father at first but later changed his mind and was faithful to his father! The second son appeared to be faithful didn’t want to upset his dad but then failed him greatly by not keeping his word. The tenants went against their boss and KILLED his son so that they would receive all his inheritance…all his power! Ultimately Jesus was right bout the Pharisees for they would kill him and attempted to take the power and influence he had over the people. Of course we know the rest of the story and this did not happen!Have you ever tried to claim control of one area of your life on your own? How did that work out?
But lets focus on chapter 22. I believe it is very clearly speaking to us tonight! Remember in the beginning I said we have a king who invites others to come because the original invitations were given to people who did not deserve to come. Lastly we have this man who shows up dressed inappropriately and therefore is left to darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth! What just happened? Did we miss something here?
It is little wonder that the person was left “speechless” under the circumstances. The king observes at the messianic banquet when Christ returns to earth someone who is attending the marriage of the Lamb and the Bride not wearing “fine linen, bright and pure,” “for the fine linen is the righteous deeds. This man had no excuse he knew the requirements were to be faithful. The requirements were to walk in step with Christ faithfully doing all he asked. When asked as to how he had come to be there without the proper garment, no answer is given, for the person was without excuse. He knew what he should have been doing all along.
The invitation to join with Christ at this great feast is an invitation to all the only requirement to come is to be faithful accepting Christ as the Messiah wasn’t enough. Right actions always follow the acceptance of Jesus. The garment is a metaphor for righteousness, or right actions. What does this mean for us tonight? We have a choice. In this life we are not simply taking sides one with God and the other with the devil. We are making an impact on the Kingdom of God NOW. IT is not an equation a simple 1+1= I get into heaven. It is about being faithful to what Christ has called all of us to do! We are to invite everyone to be apart of God’s plan, we are to invite everyone into the presence of Christ. What I find so fascinating about the invitation that this parable is talking about is that it wasn’t a formal invitations like you would get today…It didn’t have the fancy calligraphy and directions to the banquet hall, on this date and time…No it was an invitation to something that would be coming in the future. Something so amazing when it was at a time all would know and show up for it without specifics! Our friends, coworkers, and neighbors will know what it is we are inviting them to if our lives reflect Jess Christ! We will stand out in the crowd, a Faithful Follower of the LORD JESUS CHRIST SCREAMS OUT at people looking for the invitation to the party that will bring them lasting joy, everlasting comfort and peace. The way of Christ is righteous those who are with him Have new clothes that glimmer and shine like none other. In our world of financial distress, economic hardship, broken families, broken relationships, one could easily say CHRIST HURRY BACK and take us away! Have you been faithful to what he has called you to do tonight. I think our work is only just beginning. In fact it is my prayer that God will wait! WAIT just a while longer maybe just maybe our lives can attract those who are wandering in the darkness around us. If not maybe we can go out of our comfort zone and faithfully enter into the darkness trusting Christ will be faithful as we are faithful to do all he has called us to do.
The first choice we see in these parables tonight is ARE we are going to FORGET why we are here. Tonight you are choosing to forget something…let it be the those things that just don’t matter, the busy over scheduled lives we live are too focused on issues that just don’t matter. Don’t Forget Christ! Forget leave behind the baggage, leave behind the gossip, the addiction, the brokenness, and the loneliness.
Are we choosing to be faithful? When things go well…financially, physically, when things don’t go well…there is an illness, finaical distress, hardship, death of a loved one…
And the last choice we see in these parables tonight is are we choosing to Follow?
Are we choosing to Follow Christ? It doesn’t matter if you have said no to God in the past. The son said NO I will not follow you to his father and then later changed his mind and went to where he was and was accepted! You are invited to tend the garden! If you have let your life grow wild and it seems out of control remember! Don’t forget why we are here. Be faithful to the task God has called us to and choose to follow Him. No matter how withered your life is God wants to renew your garden, your LIFE doesn’t have to be black and white! It can be full of vibrant colors, Your life can be full of life!
3 choices are made in this parable that we are asked to make daily in our lives.
The first one is Choosing to Forget
Choosing to be faithful
Choosing to Follow
Are you choosing to follow him? When you follow Christ don’t expect things to go as planned! In fact things may get a little out of hand…You may even laugh like you have never laughed before.
In his book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson talks about the joy that comes through unexpected things—a lesson he learned while on vacation with his family in Orlando, Florida:
One morning we were sitting at a stoplight in our rental van. The light turned green, and the car in front of us didn't go, so I decided to give them a little "love tap" on the horn. But when I hit the horn, it got jammed, and I couldn't turn it off. The poor people in front of us! They must have thought I was a raging lunatic!
I quickly pulled into a gas station while everybody stared at us. We were mortified, but fortunately the horn stopped honking when I turned the van off. So I started the van back up, and we got onto the highway. About two miles down the road, the horn started honking again without me even touching it. Scout's honor. So we were driving down the highway at seventy miles per hour blaring our horn at everybody and their brother. I'm not sure what people were thinking, but it felt like we were screaming at people. Get out of my lane, sucker! This road belongs to us!
I honestly didn't know what to do. Malfunctioning horns weren't covered in my driver's ed class. So I did what I do whenever anything is broken: I hit it. I just kept pounding the horn, and it would actually stop honking for a few seconds. Then it would sporadically start honking again.
That fifteen-minute ride would rank as one of the most chaotic driving experiences of my adult life. But you know what? We're still laughing about it…. In fact, I don't think my kids will ever forget the now infamous "honking horn" incident.
Most of our trip was preplanned. We planned on swimming. We planned on catching lizards. We planned on visiting the Magic Kingdom. And all of these planned activities were a blast. But the highlight of the trip was totally unplanned. You can't plan a horn malfunction. But that horn malfunction causes as much laughter as the rest of the trip combined.
Now here's my point: Some of the best things in life are totally unplanned and unscripted.
I'm not a movie critic, but in my humble entertainment estimation, the greatest movies have the highest levels of uncertainty. Whether the uncertainty is romantic or dramatic, scripts with the highest level of uncertainty make the best movies. In the same vein, I think high levels of uncertainty make the best lives. …
Faith is embracing the uncertainties of life. … It is recognizing a divine appointment when you see one.
Embrace relational uncertainty. It's called romance. Embrace spiritual uncertainty. It's called mystery. Embrace occupational uncertainty. It's called destiny. Embrace intellectual uncertainty. It's called revelation.
As I said before our lives should be screaming out at people! We should be noticeably different! I am not saying you should go around blaring the horn of your car! What I am suggesting is that the choices we make will bring people to an awareness of Jesus Christ! How are you choosing? Our future is uncertain. Each of us will make choices. Tonight we have the choice to Forget the things that are not important, leave them behind. Tonight we can choose to be faithful We are to invite everyone to be apart of God’s plan, we are to invite everyone into the presence of Christ. Choose to be faithful to this task! Lastly choose the mysterious, the unknown, choose the most uncertain thing you can possibly imagine! CHOOSE TO FOLLOW CHRIST!
There are altars here that you can pray at, all of us have many things we can bring to God this morning, if you would like a quiet place to pray the altar is a great place for that to happen.
Father God I pray the prayer for all of here tonight that your son Prayed while he was on earth.
You have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 17 Sanctify us by the truth; your word is truth! Help us Father to reach our families, friends, coworkers, this community and our world for Christ! In Jesus name I pray!