Why would anyone turn down an invitation to a wedding. First of all, a wedding is a joyous and happy celebration, an opportunity to reunite with family and friends, to enjoy much food and drink, to dance and sing.
Secondly, to refuse such an invitation would show disregard for the hosts and their family. They made many preparations and spent much money and time to share the happiness of the brid and groom with all their loved ones. Furthermore, in Jesus' day, a wedding did not last for one or two days, but rather for many days, maybe a week or more. It was a great honor to receive an invitation to this type of feast.
So, what should we think of the replies to the invitation in Jesus' parable? One man refused the invitation because of his farm, another because of some other business. Who refuses the invitation of a friend or family member for these reasons? They said to the king of their country, "You are not an important person in my life." The king? The king is not an important person?
Jesus Christ is the King of Kings, this is certain. Your opinion or mine does not matter in this regards. It is the truth. However, many people do not really believe in this truth and their unbelief is reflected in their lives. That is, they show by their priorities why they reject the invitation to eternal life with Christ.
There's more. Some others who were invited to the king's feast attacked and killed the messengers of the king. What does this mean?
In the original context of the parable, Jesus was speaking to Jews. That is, the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the people of Moses, the prophets, and kings David and Solomon, who had the promise of a Savior Who would be born among them. But they did not have the assurance of salvation only because of their status as descendents of Abraham. They were not heirs to the promise because they went through the motions of the rituals of their people. The promise of the Savior and of salvation belonged to those who believed, to those who had faith.
If one does not have faith, the trust that comes from the Holy Spirit, he will have other priorities. Some of those who are not believers in their hearts, no matter their formal profession of faith, show their lack of faith and reverence to God by their indifference. The farm or other business or family or something else is more important than God's call. Others show their lack of faith in their hostility to the messengers of God, first to the servants ordained and entrusted with the preaching of the Word and administering the sacraments, and second, to the church in general, that is, to all Christians who talk of Christ's truth.
And finally, they show their hostility to the Son of God. The Messiah came to His people Israel, and the majority shouted for Him to be crucified. Therefore, Christ warned the Jews, when the Messiah completed His mission, the promise of life eternal would not belong to one people, but to all people, to all nations. This is the significance of the king sending his servants into the streets and highways to invite to the wedding all whom they might find there. And when Jesus told them who the king ordered the burning of the city of those who refused the invitation, He was prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in the year 70, the end of the age of the old covenant. Now all of the promises that God made to Abraham, Moses and the patriarchs of the Old Testament belong to all those of all races and nations who believe in Jesus Christ.
But, there is a warning for us today as well. We have received the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of eternal life in baptism, daily repentance and absolution, and in the Lord's Supper. However, if all these things are only outward acts, if we reject the promose of God in our hearts and show other priorities in our lives, we are like the man without a wedding garment. In that day, if an invited guest could not afford an appropriate garment, the host would provide him with one. So if a man appeared at the feast without a wedding garment, it was also an insult, a show of his lack of regard for the host.
Our wedding garment is the righteousness of Christ and faith in Him. We are justified by faith, but if there is no real faith and no fruits of the faith, we are not clothed in Christ's righteousness, regardless of whether we were raised in Christian families or not.
The old covenant ended with the destruction of Jerusalem, but the new covenant will last forever. But the invitation is extended only to the hour of our death or the Second Coming of our Lord. There is no second chance for those who reject the new covenant and no one knows how much time is left. That is why our epistle reading for today (Ephesians 5:15-21), "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil-"
And as St. Paul writes, we give thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
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