Monday, October 10, 2011

Sermon on Matthew 22:1-14, for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, "Dressed for the Wedding"

Sermon outline


1. Parable built on OT picture, here of heaven. King= Father; Son= Jesus; invited guests = Jews/Jesus’ original audience; wedding feast = end times celebration of Jesus joined to His bride, the church (foreshadowed in Is. 25:6-9); Wedding hall = kingdom of God/church; Abuse/rejection/murder of servants = reaction of Jews to prophets/Jesus.

2. What kind of incredible honor it was to be invited to the King’s Son’s wedding? Royal feast, spared no expense, finest food and everything prepared. Only come, enjoy and celebrate my son’s wedding with me! What an insult to refuse the invitation? Imagine being given the exclusive invitation to the wedding of the President’s child, and you said you couldn’t come. Made some excuse about needing to clean your yard or do your chores. Had to work late. Seems unimaginable enough by itself, such an insult. How much unimaginably worse if one were to abuse and murder the messengers? Yet this is just what happened when it came to God’s invitation. Invited many times by the prophets. Abuse, insult, excuses, death.

3. But also portrays the response people presently give to God’s invitation—ridicule, excuses, indifference, better things to do. World today is distracted endlessly by amusements and things and work and a million other things that turn our attention away from God.

4. King’s response reflects specific historical judgments: first time in OT when Babylonians destroyed the Temple & Jerusalem. 2nd time was yet to come, 40 years after Jesus, as He prophesied the Romans destroyed the 2nd Temple and Jerusalem again. How should we expect to be repaid if we despise such an honor and invitation?

5. Weddings from casual to elaborately formal, always are an occasion for careful choice in clothing. Surprise in parable, that a guest is thrown out for not having a wedding garment. Where was he supposed to get it? All the guests came in from the highways and roads.

6. Ancient custom that the host provided wedding garments for all the guests. Isaiah 61:10 comes at the end of a chapter praising what God will do when the Messiah (Jesus) will arrive and bring the year of the Lord’s favor. In verse ten it proclaims, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” God provides the garments of salvation, the wedding clothes to wear at His banquet. All the invited guests would be offered the wedding garment. So the offense of this man who was thrown out, was that he wore his own clothes, instead of the celebratory wedding garment. Outer darkness = sufferings of hell. He was unworthy because He did not wear the appointed wedding garment.

7. How to get a “wedding garment”? God provides it, not us. Garment of salvation = robe of righteousness. The only pure garment, pure robe of innocence is that which Jesus won for us. What does that mean? Covering of perfect innocence—perfect life, sacrificial death for sin.

8. What’s the best we had to wear? What are our “own clothes”? Isaiah 64:5-6 says “Behold, You were angry, for we sinned, We continued in them a long time; And shall we be saved? For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” Notice, it’s not our sinful deeds that are like filthy rags, but it’s our righteous deeds(!) that are like a polluted garment. Stunning to us, but the hard realization that the best “clothes” we have to wear are still filthy rags. Dirty and full of holes. That’s because our sin and guilt covers us with stains and spots and blemishes. Our spotty obedience to God’s law is filled with gaps and holes. We can’t even begin to approach the perfection that God demands. James 2:10 reads: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it”. If you want to be measured by the standard of the law, dressed in your own righteousness, then no part of the law can be left undone, not even the least part of it.

9. The scandal or offense then, is to be given Christ’s righteousness to wear, a gift for all those who are invited to His wedding banquet, but to refuse and choose to wear your own dirty rags instead. That is to reject the covering of Jesus’ innocence for your sin, and expect to be presentable to God on account of your own righteousness instead. That is to stand before God in the rags of your sins, when He offers you the beautiful clean garments of salvation. If that is the case, we have no one but ourselves to blame for being thrown out of the banquet. It’s to stand on what you have done, instead of what Christ has done, when you face the judgment.

10. And we will have no excuse. We will be speechless. So why would anyone choose their own filthy rags instead of Christ’s clean robe? Why would you choose your far-from-perfect record instead of His spotless one? Just like the “comfortable” feeling of that old worn pair of jeans that you can’t seem to throw away, sin gets pretty comfortable on us. We like our sin, and the short term pleasure it gives. We don’t want the change, to leave our pet sins behind. We don’t like the idea of “owing” someone something, getting it totally free without our work or obligation. Whatever reasons, none of them will provide a legitimate excuse before God if we come to Him believing in our own goodness, our own satisfaction with our self-selected clothes. If we have rejected His freely given garment, if we are not dressed in that baptismal garment of Jesus’ perfect righteousness, we’ll be cast out of the celebration.

11. But if we are in our sins and rags, if we have stained and spotted our garments, we are to take them to Him, be washed in the forgiveness of His blood, and have the crimson garments turned white as snow. We are to wash our robes and make them white in the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God. Ephesians 5 describes how Jesus presents the church for Himself at this great wedding feast. “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” As Christ dresses His bride, the Church, He dresses you wedding guests, with garments not your own, with righteousness, purity and holiness that is not your own, but given to you by the costly sacrifice of His life on the cross, and delivered in the washing of the water with the word, in your baptism. He has washed away any stains, spots, or wrinkles and has made you clean. Joyfully dress in His righteousness each day, as we worship together and await the final arrival of His heavenly kingdom, where the feasting that we have begun now in the Lord’s Supper will be fulfilled in the arrival of Christ our Bridegroom, when the full and eternal wedding banquet is revealed!

Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com
Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com

1. Identify who and what the main characters and events of the parable represent. How does Isaiah 25:6-9 shape the view of God’s “wedding feast?” Where else is this wedding imagery significant in the Bible? Matt. 25:1-13; Eph. 5; Hosea

2. Reflect on the incredible honor to be invited to the wedding banquet of the King’s Son, and how foolish it is to despise that invitation for trivial or mundane reasons. How outrageous is it to scoff at His message? Acts 13:41; 2 Pet. 3:3-7

3. When was the nation of Israel punished by armies and its city destroyed, for disregarding God’s invitation and abusing and killing the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles? 2 Chron. 36:15-21; Matthew 24

4. What was the basis for the unworthiness of the guests who were first invited? Acts 13:46, and 13:26-52.

5. What was the basis for the unworthiness of the guest who was thrown out? Where could he have been expected to get a wedding garment? Isaiah 61:10; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 3:18. By contrast, what are we wearing if we keep our own “garments”? Isaiah 64:6; Jude 24; Rev. 3:4-5. Who cleanses us to give a clean garment? Isaiah 1:18; Rev. 7:13-14.

6. For those who remain in the wedding hall after the final judgment, and celebrate the wedding feast, what is their cry of thanksgiving? Isaiah 25:9. What is there to look forward to? Is. 26:6-8

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