Join the party!
Matthew 22 recounts the parable of the wedding feast.
In this story a king throws a feast, but none of the noble guests attend. The enraged king then says to his servants:
“ ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
When God found me I was in the street. I was not on the VIP list. In fact I was the Kings enemy.
But when the gracious invitation came I was floored and honored- I couldn’t resist.
The parable then goes on to tell us that the guests are clothed.
This parable has some eastern customs influencing the story. In the east, in those days, when someone was invited to attend a fancy party the host would provide the attire so everyone would be well dressed and looked the part. In this parable the king provides attire for his guests too- we know this party was huge because it appears there were many invitations, and he was a king, so everyone would have been sup-par. They would have needed the Kings attire.
The servants invite anyone and everyone - homeless, drug addicts, the broken, rejected- because the king would dress them and no one would no the difference. Even their filthiest rags would be exchanged for fine garments.
Now, there are many wonderful points to this story, but one that has been rolling around my head recently has been the idea that no one would know the identity of guests except the ones originally invited who refused to attend- (along with the king and the servants).
How does this relate to you and I? Well, I know who I was before Jesus took hold of me. I know the deep dark truth - and there are those who also knew the former me. Some would be offended that God actually showed me grace and saved me and uses me. Some can’t believe that God is that good, merciful and forgiving.
But this is not one of those posts trying to validate myself- or hold a light up and tell people to back off or anything like that. If you know me, that kind of stuff doesn’t concern me. Im simply using myself as an example.
But what this tells me is that some people spectate even while attending the party. The truth is if you are taking heat for following Jesus understand that an ‘unbeliever’ is not just someone outside the church. Often an unbeliever attends your church or is in your family and saw your train wreck of a life, and they cannot believe that Jesus has actually made a difference in your life because Jesus probably hasn’t made a difference in theirs.
Why? I can’t judge- but the Bible says ‘the one forgiven much loves much’. In other words when you experience what God can truly do- not only do you hold a deeper love for Jesus but you also believe it can happen in others as well. Corinthians says true loves hopes and believes. When you claim to be a follower of Jesus but can’t deal with his grace saving the worst sinners, then you haven’t truly encountered his grace. Grace and love changes your heart into believing God can do great things in others and you hope and pray it actually does. To live without truly knowing this means living without truly knowing Jesus.
And that is the most dangerous unbeliever - the one sitting at the table next to you.
I believe it was Charles Spurgeon who said “ if God’s forgiveness doesn’t work for the worst sinner then surely it doesn’t work for the least”
The parable continues and mentions a guest who is at the table but NOT clothed. The king kindly questions the guest as to why they are sitting there. The guest is speechless and then the king orders the unclothed guest to be cast out.
Being there but not being clothed in the masters love and grace makes you an unwelcome guest.
These are those who spectate but never conform to the image of the king. So all they can do now is tell you why you shouldn’t be going or even sitting at the masters table.
Don’t pay mind to that. Some people will be offended that Jesus shows mercy and favor, while they hold back from experiencing it themselves.
Did you know that John the Baptist, one of the greatest men in history might possibly have struggled in his final days? I can’t imagine what he went through, but he definitely needed encouragement before being beheaded.
Jesus didn’t even come and visit him, but instead sent people in his place. And do you know what his final departing words were?
Well, they were encouraging words if you’re on the right side:
“blessed is he, who is not be offended by me.”
Sometimes God does things in people that are inconceivable. He takes the fool to shame the wise. The weak to shame the strong. He came for the sick, the wounded and the lost. Jesus saving people might actually offend some.
If you are in need, then you are a candidate for his amazing grace. So wear your testimony loud and strong, and don’t worry about the haters.
That simply means they skipped the invitation and they might still be in their rags.