THE GREAT INVITATION
There are invitations and there are invitations. A casual, spontaneous call to a friend or loved one to meet them for lunch is one thing; a formal, personal, in-advance invitation to a banquet feast with a dignitary is something else.
The first in an invitation which may or may not be workable, schedule-wise or priority-wise; the second is an occasion so important nothing should interfere with one’s attendance.
The King is preparing a wedding banquet for His son. It is a joyous celebration. Invitations are personally delivered by the King’s servants to those chosen to be a part of this glorious event. What an honor and privilege is theirs!
To the shock and dismay of the King, many of His invitations are declined. And when even more servants are sent, they are mistreated, even killed. Enraged, the King and His army attack and destroy those responsible. Determined that His banquet hall be filled, the King orders His servants to search out any who would come. The day arrives and the appropriately-dressed guests are all seated–with the exception of one who tried to enter without a wedding garment.
Wanted: A Full House
Spoken to the Jewish leaders in the context of the withering fig tree and the lesser-known parables of the two sons and tenants, the message of this parable is unmistakable. The one great invitation extended by the King of heaven and earth is to the “wedding banquet” of salvation. It is a feast celebrating the spiritual and eternal union of our Bridegroom-Savior and His beloved bride, the Church of believers. All who “come” by faith celebrate eternal victory, joy, and blessing.
And while special invitations were personally delivered to God’s chosen people by His prophets and by His very own Son (Luke 21:37-38), their response was generally indifference, disdain, even hatred and murder. Justifiably enraged, our King–also in love–sets out to fill His banquet hall. An intensive effort by the apostle Paul (Acts) and many others since to flood the world with personal invitations to the Gentiles throughout the world has been richly blessed. The seats in the heavenly banquet hall are being filled.
Each of us, unworthy though we are, have received a personal invitation in the gospel message. Every year our Epiphany celebration is a striking reminder. Our response is truly a matter of life or death. What a privilege and honor to be “called and chosen” to be a part of God’s family by faith and to anticipate joining the angels and fellow believers in the joyous heavenly celebration!
May we never reject, misunderstand, or treat lightly the gospel call. May our voices of praise and our lives of service ever be “Spirited” expressions of acceptance and appreciation of God’s great invitation.
–Pastor David Schierenbeck