Invitations

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying,

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.” ’

“But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.

“Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.

“‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

“But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless.

“Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:1-14)

What is the kingdom of heaven like? Jesus’ parables never compared the kingdom of heaven to earthly kingdoms. Most didn’t even have government officials in them. Though this parable has a king in it, the story has little to do with governing. Instead, it’s all about a party.

Jesus’ parables, just like Aesop’s fables, all had morals. They were not allegories, where each character and event represented some person or thing. Instead, the story taken as a whole was the message. The moral was the reason for the parable.

So what was the moral—the point—of Jesus’ parable about a king who threw a party? That although everyone gets an invitation and no one is excluded, not everyone wanted to come. And what of the one without wedding clothes who was speechless? The ill-dressed man, for whatever reason, had not really wanted to be there either, otherwise he’d have worn the right clothes.

God has invited everyone into his kingdom. But not everyone will come because not everyone wants to.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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