Church culture is increasingly casual today. Unfortunately many people feel like they can’t win with what they wear to church. Some will get looks if they dress up, some will get looks if they dress casual, some will get looks either way. Believe it or not some young people would prefer to dress up but conform to the pressure to dress casual. Others prefer to dress casual but conform to the pressure to put on their Sunday finest. Some are constrained by what they can afford to buy. Many wear whatever they want to wear – if they want to dress up they do and if they want to dress casual they do. The culture of the casual has started to make some inroads in wedding feasts too but by and large the bride and groom and the wedding party are still expected to wear fine apparel – even dresses and tuxedos. It is also common to spend huge amounts of money on wedding feasts – to have the best meals in the best halls with the best entertainment. In our culture it is the father of the bride who often is expected to spend like a king. It is also expected that those who are invited and rsvp yes will actually attend. However, if you are a wedding guest today you usually have to buy your own gown, rent your own tux, or whatever it is that you are expected to wear in order to be dressed for the occasion. In the parable those invited to the feast would have already rsvped yes but just need to be told when the party begins and the king would have been the one to supply the wedding garments. Moreover, it was not just anyone who was inviting the guests – it was their king! Attending the wedding of the king’s son is a great honor. How the people responded to this gracious invitation should shock you:
- God has invited many to the wedding feast for His Son who refused to come.
- The religious leadership of Israel are like those invited to the wedding feast of God’s Son but would not come. The Heavenly King sent His servants the prophets but they would not come. This was a huge insult, but God gave them a second chance. Again, he sent other servants, this time telling them how wonderful the meal looks and that everything is ready. Some paid no attention and went off – one to his farm and another to his business. They didn’t have legitimate excuses. The rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. This is how the religious leadership of Israel had treated the prophets and how they would treat early Christians who gave them a second chance. Some of the priests and Pharisees paid no attention to the summons and some seized, shamefully treated and killed the messengers. Therefore in the parable the king sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Likewise, in history God later sent the Roman Army as his troops who destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. The priests and the Pharisees then are an example of the saying that ends our passage: “many are called but few are chosen.” They had received the invitation, they had said that they were going, but when the time came they did not go into the king’s wedding hall for the feast but instead insulted the king and rebelled against Him. These were the respectable members of society, but they were not worthy. Few of those who were called at first were really God’s chosen. They did not repent and believe in Jesus.
- The ways that the priests and Pharisees reacted to the invitation are responses the king’s servants may still get today. His servants are seized, treated shamefully, and killed by Islamic radicals like ISIS and by some governments around the world. Far more common is the reaction that Jesus mentioned first: “they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business.” Some are simply too busy with their work than to pay attention to the king’s servants and come to eat at the feast. Like the Pharisees, some may even be respectable members of society who have accepted the invitation and said they would go but then refused to go when the feast was prepared. These unrepentant and unbelieving reactions again remind us—if we needed any reminders—that many are called but few are chosen. (Nevertheless, notice what happens when many are called but few are chosen: others are called. There is justice or wrath for those called but who do not repent and believe in Jesus, yet there is grace for others. The king was angry and sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city, then the same king tells his servants to go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find. He doesn’t want an empty wedding hall. So the servants go out to the roads and have to find those who will believe them when they say, ‘the king is giving a wedding feast for his son and you are invited.’ But not everyone they convinced to go into the wedding hall belonged. Indeed…)
- Not everyone who comes to the wedding feast gets to stay.
- Judas is a type of one who comes to the wedding feast but didn’t get to stay while prostitutes, tax collectors, Gentiles, and the rest of the twelve disciples did get to enjoy the wedding feast for the Son of God. The wedding hall was filled with guests, both bad and good. Those originally invited—the priests and Pharisees—have refused to come. So the new servants and wedding guests include the twelve disciples, the prostitutes and tax collectors who had repented at the preaching of John, and Gentiles who would repent at the preaching of the twelve. The king’s servants supplied the people with wedding garments as they went into the feast but there is one there at the feast not wearing a wedding garment. So in language typical for hell the king says to bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness – in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Judas got to come to the foretaste of that banquet and dip his hand in the dish with Jesus, but he didn’t get to stay. Indeed, not everyone who comes to the wedding feast gets to stay. It matters not whether they are bad or good, but whether they have on a wedding garment.
- Likewise today not everyone who comes to the wedding feast gets to stay, but only those who are dressed for the occasion. Now we are not actually talking about clothes. We are not talking about attending church in tuxedos for men and gowns for women. We are not talking about men wearing suits and women wearing dresses rather than tshirts and jeans. To be dressed for the occasion isn’t to be wearing the right clothes to church but to bear the fruits of repentance and believe in Jesus. Some modern day Pharisees think that their own clothing, if you will is pretty good, and they don’t need to change. But Jesus tells these parables showing how the kingdom of God was being taken away from the priests and Pharisees and given to those who will bear the fruits of repentance and believe in Jesus. It was not being given to anyone who came to the wedding feast even if they didn’t put on Christ and His righteousness. Yes many are called but few are chosen. Those who are chosen are those who come to the feast wearing the wedding garments He supplies. Amen.