In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Something else that seems upside down to us is that in those days weddings were men’s business. The King would have made the match for His Son. The King would have set the menu. He would have chosen the finest of animals, the best cuts, and even ordered just how to roast or barbeque it. He would chose the best wine He could get hands on. He would arrange everything. For such an occasion is about Him. It is a display of His power, wealth and corresponding benevolence. You don’t delegate something like this to your wife, or the bride, or to a wedding planner. When its your kingdom, you tell your servants what to do and they do it. You invite a guest, send his clothes to him, send your chariots to get him, and he comes. To refuse is to despise your King.
But this story is upside down for more reasons than merely our culture’s expectations of a wedding. This is a story about a wedding, but it is not a love story. It is not about the Son or the Bride. It is about the King and His subjects. It is about subjects who refuse Him. Subjects who renounce their loyalty to Him. It is about subjects, who are honoured guests of their King, but who destroy themselves by their arrogant rejection of Him. Instead, beggars, vagrants, and nobodies are given their place and made King’s men, members of His household. The unimportant are given importance, not because they could give lavish gifts, nor be of any advantage to the King, but merely to make His joy complete. To honour His Son. To be witnesses of His lavish love for His Son and recipients of His graciousness to them.
But this is where the love story comes in. This about the love of the King for His Son. A love which overflows for his Son so that the worthless, the unimportant, the nobodies are loved by the King, as if they are His own! This king loves His Son so much that he is willing to call people from all nations to be His own children, to unite them to Himself as His own family to honour his Son. Which gives us a clue as to the identity of the Son’s bride!
This is not merely an outrageous story of love for His Son. These gathered nobodies, this second set of guest, are, in fact, the Son’s Bride! This gathering, this crowd of rabble, these invited ones, are made fit for the Son by the King’s approval and the royal robes He gives them to wear. Together they are united to the Son, part of His own body. The king’s child. His heir.
And this is the reason for the King throwing the sloppily dressed beggar into the outer darkness. This one, this member of the crowd of rabble who the King is marrying to His Son did not want to be united to the Son, nor blessed by the Father. It is a worse rejection than that of the original guests’ rejection. They rejected the Father, His royal protection and patronage. But this new found guest rejects the Son! The King’s beloved! This one rejects becoming the very heir to all that is the Father’s! He won’t be clothed by the King. He doesn’t accept the King’s grace. He ignores the King’s summons. He wishes to stand on his own merits before that very King who holds his life in his hands. He turns down the King’s grace to his own destruction.
This parable is about the kingdom of heaven. It is about God’s gracious summons to you, to be saved, ruled, and protected by Him in your life now and in eternity. The Jews of Jesus’ day heard it and knew it applied to them. We listen to it and look back at history and see this parable’s fulfilment in the destruction of Jerusalem forty years later. But we should apply this parable to ourselves too! Do we reject our Saviour? Do we reject His invitation to be His? Do we reject His servants’ who call us to come unto Him? Who clothe us with His righteousness in Baptism? And just what does it mean when we prioritize things over and above His feast and don’t come one Sunday, or many Sundays? In Our Lord’s parable it meant destruction. Does He really take what He is doing here in His feast today that seriously?
Yes, He does. Repent. For you have not valued your Lord’s love as you should. You have made yourself look a traitor to Him in front of the world. You have either been unaware of or unappreciative of the amazing thing He offers you here. You have told the world by your actions and attitudes that your King is not important to you. Maybe you have even treated His servants shamefully, badmouthing them to others when you disagree with them. Repent.
Repent and come! You who have nothing to offer. You who are thirsty. You who thirst for righteousness, for a clean start, for more of Him, to be free of your shame. Come to His Son’s wedding feast. Be united to Him. Know His joy. For you have already been prepared for this feast when you were washed in the waters of Baptism. You were clothed with His righteous robes cleansed by His innocent blood.
Come. For He still invites you. Come to His banquet. Be His. Be a member of His family, clothed in His royal robes of righteousness, an heir of all that belongs to Him with His protection and might and love at your disposal all working to save you from the sin that caused Him to come in the first place. Come to Him.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON