Jesus told them more stories. He said, “Here is what the kingdom of heaven is like. A king prepared a wedding dinner for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the dinner. The servants told them to come. But they refused.
“Then he sent some more servants. He said, ‘Tell those who were invited that I have prepared my dinner. I have killed my oxen and my fattest cattle. Everything is ready. Come to the wedding dinner.’
“But the people paid no attention. One went away to his field. Another went away to his business. The rest grabbed his servants. They treated them badly and then killed them.
“The king became very angry. He sent his army to destroy them. They killed those murderers and burned their city.
“Then the king said to his servants, ‘The wedding dinner is ready. But those I invited were not fit to come. Go to the street corners. Invite to the dinner anyone you can find.’ So the servants went out into the streets. They gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad. Soon the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“The king came in to see the guests. He noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man couldn’t think of anything to say.
“Then the king told his servants, ‘Tie up his hands and feet. Throw him outside into the darkness. Out there people will sob and grind their teeth.’
“Many are invited, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:1-14
Yesterday a disclaimer, today a confession: I don’t pick the Scriptures I blog about every day. I kinda started this Lent blogging thing on a whim, and I’m signed up to receive daily Lent readings. So every day I’m just as surprised as you are by what the Scripture reading is. And let me tell you, I wish they would pick some happier stories! 🙂
Today we get another story that Jesus told. Like the vineyard story, this one is harsh. Maybe even harsher. After all, with the vineyard story the servants were going to collect the fruit from the workers. In this story, the servants came to invite the people to a banquet. Something you’d think the people would want to attend. But the people end up killing the servants. Sheesh. A simple “No, thank you” would have sufficed. Perhaps the reason for this harsh story is because Jesus Himself was entering a very harsh time. He would soon become like the servants who were senselessly murdered.
Despite this, the story seems on track for a happy ending. The king flings his door open and invites everyone in from every corner of the town. But one man gets thrown out for not wearing the proper attire. How could the king do that? It doesn’t seem fair.
I don’t think the question is necessarily whether the man had the appropriate clothes. If you’ve seen any movie where a peasant gets invited to a castle or a mansion, the owner typically provides his guest with formal wear. (Even the Beast did so for Belle.) The question is whether that person chooses to wear it. As N.T. Wright puts it:
“God’s kingdom is a kingdom in which love and justice and holiness reign unhindered. They are the clothes you need to wear for the wedding. And if you refuse to put them on, you are saying you don’t want to stay at the party. That is the reality. If we don’t have the courage to say so, we are deceiving ourselves, and everyone who listens to us.”
May God show me the mercy to give me His wedding clothes, though I am not worthy to wear them. And may I have the humility to put them on.