October 14, 2023

Many Are Invited, Few Are Chosen (Proper 28A)

The Parable of the Wedding Guest is another teaching on the Kingdom of God. The message is familiar from the previous parable of the Tenants. People are given something - a vineyard or an invitation to a banquet, and there is a test, and a wrong response that leads to exclusion. 

  • The issue is how do we respond to God’s invitation. 
  • Test is who pays rent or comes and wears the wedding garment 
  • Putting on the wedding garment is getting onside, committed
  • Serious Christians put on Jesus, suffer, die and celebrate with Him
  • They are the ones chosen for the Kingdom 
  • Those who attend church but are not all-in, exclude themselves.


1. The first guests who were invited refuse the invitation

In parallel with the previous story of the Tenants, the invited guests represent the the Hebrew People who rejected the invitation of Jesus

·      They failed the test, excluded themselves by not 'paying the rent' 

·      To make matters worse, they mistreat and kill the messengers. 

·      Reference to John the Baptist who was killed when he called the Hebrew people, and their clergy, to repentance. 

·      The clergy were determined to do their own thing. 

·      Warning to uncommitted Christians - the consequences is death 


2. All are invited but few are chosen

The King in the Parable has prepared an enormous feast. Many animals have been killed and prepared. The servants - that would be all of us, are commanded (not asked) to go out and invite everyone they can find to attend. 

·      No distinction made between people who are good and bad. 

·      This is our mission as a church to invite everyone we can find to come to the banquet. 

·      This is the command of God. If they refuse, that is their right; but it is also their choice to not be among the few who are chosen.


3. The Church is to be the bride of Christ

The symbolism of the wedding garment is the clue to understanding this teaching at a deeper level. At first it is shocking that the King or God would get so upset about someone who wore the wrong clothes.

·      He is bound, hand and foot and thrown out into "utter darkness". 

·      Clothes are signs of identity, who you are, how you see yourself

·      First of all, the, garment was usually provided to guests. 

·      All they had to do was put it on as a sign that they were included.

·      The man chose to not do this. 

·      He was present but not really part of the celebration. 

·      This was an insult and grounds for exclusion. 

·      He was also not showing respect for the Son - Jesus. 

·      The church is to be the bride of Jesus. 

·      This man was rejecting the free offer of love and forgiveness that Jesus brings to us through the church. 

·      He was choosing to exclude himself from relationship with Jesus, and inclusion in the church community. 

·      The church is to be a foretaste of the Heavenly community. 

·      The wedding garment also represents our baptismal garment.

·      This is the consequence for being double minded about Jesus. 


The Parable of the Wedding Banquet teaches us the importance of being serious Christians

‘Serious Christians' have recognized their personal need for Jesus and His offer of forgiveness, are involved in Bible study, demonstrate self-giving love and are actively seeking to be transformed through the healing experience of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. 

·      I joke about how I was an Anglican for 35 years before I read the whole Bible and became a serious Christian. 

·      The line draws laughter and awkward silences in a homily -- it reflects the teaching of this Parable. 

·     Many people who attend but do not commit to a church may find themselves in the position of the man who attended but did not really commit to the Wedding Banquet. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in the Letter to the Philippians (1.4-9) those who are really chosen are really part of the celebration. They are the ones who are rejoicing and giving thanks.


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