Joy and Judgement

When invitations to a great feat, like a wedding feast, were sent out the time was left off of the invitation.  When everything for the feast was ready, servants would be sent out to let those invited know it was time.  This parable reminds us of the great feast that God prepared for us, long ago, and sent out his servants, first Moses and those with him, then the prophets, both of whom initially invited the Jews, and the third group represents the Apostles being sent out to the Gentiles. We see the shift of the invitations from the Jews, who ignored God’s call, to the Gentiles, who accepted it.

Two things need to be pointed out.

  1. This parable has a local meaning to it. Its local sense was a driving home and an accusation against the Jews. The guests who when the time came refused to come, stand for the Jews. Ages ago they had been invited by God to be his chosen people; yet when God’s son came into the world, and they were asked to follow him, they contemptuously refused. The result of this refusal was that the invitation of God went out direct to the highways and byways; and the people in the highways and the byways stand for the sinners and the Gentiles, who never expected an invitation to the kingdom.
  2. The parable has much to say on a wider scale.

It reminds us that the invitation of God is to a joyous feast as joyous as a wedding feast. God’s invitation to us is to joy. To think of Christianity as gloomy giving up everything that brings laughter and the sunshine and happy fellowship is to mistake its entire nature. It is to joy that the Christian is invited, and it is joy we miss if we refuse the invitation.

It reminds us of the things that make us deaf to the call of Christ are not necessarily bad in themselves. One man went to his estate; the other to his business. They did not go off on a wild carousel or an immoral adventure. They left to administer their business life. It is very easy for us to be so busy with the things of time that we neglect the things of eternity, to be so preoccupied with the things which are seen we forget the things that are unseen, to hear insistently the claims of the world that we cannot hear the soft invitation to the voice of Christ. The tragedy of this life is that it is so often the second bests that shut out the bests, which it is things that are good in themselves shut out the things that are supreme. A person can be so busy making a living that they fail to make a life; they can be so busy with the administration and the organization of life that they forget life itself.

It reminds us that the appeal of Christ is not so much to consider how we will be punished as it is to see what we will miss if we do not take his way of things. Those who did not come to the feast were punished, but the real tragedy was that they lost the joy of the wedding feast itself. If we refuse the invitation of Christ, some day our greatest pain will lie, not in the things we suffer, but in the realization of the precious things we have missed.

It reminds us that in the last analysis God’s invitation is the call of grace. Those who were gathered in the from the highways and byways has no claim on the king at all; they could never by any stretch of imagination have expected an invitation to the wedding feast, still less could they have ever deserved it. It came to them from nothing other than the wide-armed, open-hearted, generous hospitality of the king. It was grace that offered the invitation and grace that gathered them in.

Don’t be like those who refused the invitation because we are too busy, accept the invitation with grace and enter into the feast of joy with joy.

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