Last Saturday my wife, girls and I went to a wonderful wedding where we sat next to some friends at the reception. As we shared in the feast together our friends confessed that they were late additions to the guest list. They weren’t offended that their invitation to the reception had come so late, they were coming to the service and the evening reception anyway and so the meal in between was a bonus.
Getting married can be expensive and most people accept that not everyone can be invited to a formal reception including a meal. The way some friends of mine got around this was to have a bring and share meal for their wedding reception and I love the way that their thinking outside of the box led to a really fun time for all of their friends.
Have you heard this wedding story?
Once there was a king who sent out invitations to his wedding of his son. On the day of the wedding feast he sent his servants to bring the guests but they refused to come. So he sent further servants to impress on them the fact that the feast was ready and the food was prepared but the guests still refused and some of them even attacked the messengers. When he realized that the guests weren’t coming, the king sent his servants out to tell everyone they met that they were invited to the wedding feast. The servants were to invite anyone irrespective of their reputation, everyone was welcome no matter had happened in their past.
Jesus told this story to explain what the Kingdom of Heaven is like this (Matthew 22.1-14). There was once a time when only the Jews were invited to be God’s people but now everyone (whether they are Jews or not) can come to God if they are willing to respond to his invitation.
There is a really weird bit at the end of Jesus’ story. The king notices someone who isn’t wearing wedding clothes and he throws them out into the outer darkness. I told you it was weird! The Jews who Jesus was telling this story to would probably have been reminded of what Isaiah the prophet had said:
I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61.10)
Spiritual clothes from God are a symbol of salvation and cleansing. The person who hadn’t accepted God’s free gift (clothing) of salvation was trying to be there based on their own goodness. It seems reasonable to want to be good enough to impress God but if God offers you salvation and cleansing for free and you say you are good enough then you are throwing his gift of grace back in his face.
Everyone is invited to be with God forever no matter what they have done.
God offers us forgiveness and cleansing if we turn to him.
I hope we will accept God’s invitation and free gift of salvation?