For Many are Called, but Few are Chosen

For many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:1-14

This is a ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ parable, which is the sort that Jesus told when he wanted to make a very important point about life and death. If you have an interest in the afterlife, it’s important to take note.

Jesus told many parables that involved the marriage customs of his day. This was something that was familiar to his hearers, and it shined a light on the nature of his relationship with those he had some to save.

In essence, Jesus is the bridegroom who came to earth to look for a bride. In the Jewish marriage custom of his time, a father would look for a bride for his son. This was a careful decision, as this woman would become an integral part of his family, and would be a mother to his grandchildren.

In the case of Abraham, he did not want his son Issac to marry a Canaanite woman from the land were they lived, as they did not believe in the God of Abraham and Issac. He sent a servant to find a suitable bride in his homeland of Haran where his brother had remained.

Once the betrothal had taken place, the prospective groom would return to his father’s home to build a house for his bride, sometimes as an addition to his father’s house. After some amount of time the groom would return for his bride and take her home.

In much the same way, Jesus came to earth to look for a bride, that is people who knew God and would willingly give themselves to him. Once he found us, and promised himself to us, he planned to return to his Father, and he will one day return for us.

The Gospel according to John describes this with a statement by Jesus that we are all familiar with:

1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Again using the imagery of the marriage custom, Jesus told his disciples that he was going back to his Father, but would return for us to take us home.

The parable of the wedding feast we heard today involves a King who held the feast for his son. The king prepared food and drink, and it sounds like he has spared no expense. This tradition continues to this day, as it is a time of great celebration.

Now, it sounds great to me, and I hate to turn down free food, but something unexpected happens. The servants are sent out to call the invited guests to come, but they do not. In fact the servants are treated shamefully and killed.

This parable seems to be an indictment of those whom the Father has called to worship him. The servants sent by the king are the Old Testament prophets that God has sent to the people. Many times, God sent the prophets, and many times they were rejected. Many times the people were given over to their enemies because they had forgotten about God, and turned to following false gods.

The king then tells the servants to go out and compel new guests to come, those had not been invited. This represents those who were not his chosen people, but others who might not even seem worthy of the call.

Who did Jesus call after he was rejected by the Jews? The tax collectors, and the sinners, and the harlots, those who never thought they would receive an invitation. The Pharisees put Jesus down for dining with such as these, but that did not stop him. He knew these were the people who would respond to a personal invitation.

Imagine the joy and celebration of those who thought they would never be invited to such a feast being brought in to enjoy the best food and drink of all. It is only those who realize their need for God that really celebrate their acceptance by him.

Then there is that one wedding crasher. The king said to him, Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment? Well, you can imagine what he said; “I didn’t have time to shop! I couldn’t find a dry cleaner in time!”

This is the one who didn’t really respect the king at all. He had no regard for the king’s son. He just wanted to take advantage of the king’s generosity, but his heart was not in the right place. He was only in it for what he could get out of it for himself.

How about us? Do we come to the marriage supper of the Lamb to get something out of it? You sometimes hear about people who stop going to church because they don’t get anything out of it. Maybe the music is not great, or the preaching is uninspired, or there may be that one person that you really can’t stand that makes you stop going.

Sometimes people stop seeing the relevance because they expect to get something, and when they are disappointed they way, “Why bother?” Maybe they would rather sleep in for that one day a week, or maybe they think it’s the best day to stay home and spend time with the family.

Perhaps they have taken for granted that their life is OK, and they don’t need anything else. What does God do for them anyway?

If you don’t care to have anything to do with God, why should he care to have anything to do with you? If we don’t thank him when something good happens, why would be blame him when something bad happens? When something tragic happens in a community, many people question their faith, but the rest of the time they don’t give it a second thought.

Many indeed are called, and few are chosen, because few take the time to thank the Lord for the good things in their lives. Few realize they would have nothing if it wasn’t for the gifts he gives them.

And when something truly tragic happens, will they return to the Lord and worship him, or will they blame him for the tragedy? Sadly, that happens all too often.

We don’t come to church to be entertained, to get something out of it. We come to worship the King of kings, the Lord of Lords. We come because we know that without the Spirit of Christ in our lives, we would have nothing.

Our Father wants to be involved in our lives. He wants us to put him at the center, and stop putting ourselves there. Bad things will still happen, but we will not be alone wondering where is the love.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Our Father wants to help us navigate through a life filled with joy and sorrow, with pain and pleasure, in pandemic or health. He wants you to be one of the chosen few to bring into the marriage feast of his son. Will you put on your wedding garment and come in?

Amen.

 

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