RSVP to God Now

October 15, 2023

Pastor John Hering

Matthew 22:1-14

Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus spoke to them again in parables. He said, 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent out his servants to summon those who were invited to the wedding banquet, but they did not want to come.

4 “Then he sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner. My oxen and my fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet!’

5 “But those who were invited paid no attention and went off, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 The rest seized the king’s servants, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 As a result, the king was very angry. He sent his army and killed those murderers and burned their town.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 So go to the main crossroads and invite as many as you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those servants went out to the roads and gathered together everyone they found, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wearing wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. 13 Then the king told the servants, ‘Tie him hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

You open up the invitation and are so excited you were invited.  Maybe it’s to a wedding, or a play, or a ball game or a movie.  Oh, how invitations have changed.  Remember those fancy invites, and now you get a postcard with a QR code to RSVP.  You check your calendar and arrange things to prioritize going to this event.  Most of us don’t speak French, but we see it on invitations – the abbreviation RSVP.  It means “Respond, if you please.”  God sends us an invitation today through this parable recorded in Matthew chapter twenty-two in which Jesus urges us to

RSVP to God – Now!

The Banquet is Ready

Jesus does not offer a lot of details about the preparation of this wedding banquet or the items on the menu.  Jesus spoke to them again in parables. He said, 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. You get the picture of this banquet–elaborate, elegant, and exquisite, grand, great, and glorious, matchless, magnificent, and marvelous, and superb. This is a picture of what it means to be in the sphere of God’s love.  And the most important factor for us to know is that it’s a done deal.  3 He sent out his servants to summon those who were invited to the wedding banquet. When the king sent out the invitations, he did not send his servants with the message, “The king would like you to come to his awesome banquet right after you scrub the floors and wash the windows.”  The servants did not say, “The king is inviting you to a banquet, but it’s b.y.o. everything.”  Nor did the servants say, “The king would like you to join him at a banquet.  Tickets are on sale at TicketMaster.”  No!  In the story the king made it abundantly clear, especially in the second wave of invitations, 4 “Then he sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner. My oxen and my fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet!’  Everything is ready!  It’s Time To RSVP, NOW!

God has set his standards for attending his banquet.  He says, Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).  We say, “Lord, that’s impossible.”  He responds, “That’s right.  It is impossible for you.”  But instead of continuing by saying, “Tough luck!  Greet the devil for me when you see him,” God says, “What you cannot do, I am sending my Son to do.”  Jesus did it.  He lived up to the full measure of God’s expectations.  He matched every detail of God’s demands.  It is finished,” he cried from the cross.  There is no more to do, and nothing anyone could do.  Now here’s the good part.  God counts what Jesus did as though we did it.  That’s the banquet of God’s love.  That’s what’s on the menu.

 God is holy and just.  He demands that anyone who violates his holy standards has to pay for his or her mistakes and misdeeds.  What is the payment?  It is not a string of prayers.  It is not a whole month’s worth of being nice to your in-laws.  It is not trying to tell the truth.  It is hell.  It is making a payment that involves being pushed away by God and slapped down by his anger.  We say, “Lord, we don’t want to do that.”  He responds, “I know.  What you do not want to do, I am sending my Son to do.”  Jesus did it.  He paid the full price for our sins to satisfy God’s justice.  It is finished,” he cried from the cross.  There is no more payment to make, and nothing anyone has to pay.  Now here’s the good part.  God counts what Jesus paid as though we paid it.  That’s the banquet of God’s love.  That’s what’s on the menu.

You’ve probably heard this before, but I’ll tell it anyway because it fits.  Dad decided to take his little five-year-old daughter to the ball game.  It happened to be “Glove Night.”  As they walked through the turnstiles, a ballpark employee handed a glove to the little girl, but when Dad looked down, he saw tears streaming down her cheeks.  “What’s the matter, Honey?” he asked.  Choking back the tears, the little girl replied, “Daddy, I really wanted to come to the game, but I didn’t want to have to play.”  She thought she had to do something to make the game happen.

Imagine if God appeared to you on your way out the door today and said, “If you want forgiveness, you are going to have to play the game of human life, and you’ll have to play by all of my rules all of the time.  Otherwise, no forgiveness of sins for you!”  Thank God, he simply invites, Come to the … banquet.”  It’s All Ready!  How do we know?  The Bible tells us so!  That’s why we stick our noses back in the Bible, why we unload our failures with a Christian friend who is willing to listen and then ready to speak, “You’re forgiven.” Why we come to worship every week, why walk down this aisle to his holy meal every other week.  We say, “Lord, we have sinned,” and he responds, “I know.  But Jesus didn’t.  The blessings of the banquet of my love are yours anyway.  He earned them, and he gives them to you.  The meal is ready.  It is done.  Come to the … banquet.” It’s All Ready!  My friends, RSVP to God – now!  So, the question for us today:

Are you?

 In his parable, our Lord may not have given us details about the preparations for the banquet, but he did offer descriptions of reactions to the invitation.  The reactions come in two basic categories: those who responded, “You bet!” and those who responded, “Not interested!”  In the “not interested” category were some afflicted with apathy and some filled with enmity.  The king sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: ….. Come to the wedding banquet!’ 5 “But those who were invited paid no attention and went off, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 The rest seized the king’s servants, mistreated them, and killed them.”  That is insane rejection!!!  They wanted nothing to do with the King or his banquet and they would suffer for it.

The King did not give up.  There were all sorts of others invited, too.

“8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 So go to the main crossroads and invite as many as you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those servants went out to the roads and gathered together everyone they found, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” 

We hear nothing about what they did to make themselves “ready.”  All we know is that they heard the invitation, responded with a “Yes,” and enjoyed the party.  However, there is one nuance to the story that Jesus does not state outright, but when we read between the lines, we get the full picture.  Apparently, in order to get into the banquet hall, to remain at the banquet table, and to get full enjoyment of the party, those who were invited had to have the proper attire.  Obviously, the banquet host handed out gorgeous wedding clothes to those who were invited – free of charge, with no deposit, and no due date to turn them in.  We get that impression from a scene at the end of Jesus’ story revolving around a guest who must have said, “You can hand me whatever outfit you want.  I’m not going to put those wedding clothes on.” 

“11 But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wearing wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. 13 Then the king told the servants, ‘Tie him hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Jesus urges us to RSVP to God – now.  We are stunned and grateful for the invitation, but are we ready?  Where are we going to get those wedding clothes so we can stay in the banquet of God’s love because people without the proper attire will be hog-tied and hell-bound.  What do we do to get the right robes?  The answer is – Nothing!  Jesus hands out the robe of his righteousness and clothes you and me.  Stay clothed in Jesus 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

To get the answer and to be at peace with yourself, look again at what Jesus has done to clothe you in his righteousness.  Listen to the apostle, All of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ” (Galatians 3:27).  That is a historic fact that you cannot change or undo.  So, are you ready to RSVP to God?  Yes!  You’re wearing the right clothes.  When your marriage relationship stagnates, and you’re working to figure it out but haven’t got back to where God would want you to be, are you ready to RSVP to God?  Yes!  You’re wearing the right clothes.  When work piles on, when the folks have to go to nursing home, when the baby is coughing and wheezing in the middle of the night, when the demands of the schedule seem to overwhelm you, when you can’t seem to find the right job, when the stock market crashes and your retirement investments seem to be sinking like the Titanic, are you ready to RSVP to God?  Yes!  You’re wearing the right clothes.

If a famous star or your favorite country singer or comedian or actor or sports star is getting married and sent you an invitation to the reception, how would you respond?  “I can’t believe it!  But, I can’t afford it.”  But what if you were informed, “Don’t worry!  You will be supplied with all you need.”  “But, my calendar is full.  I’ve got to wax the car.  I’ve got to do my nails.”?  Wouldn’t you RSVP, “Yes!  I’m ready!”

Praise God!  The invitation has been extended to each of us and he has supplied us with exactly what we need to join in the heavenly banquet.  Every single day– no matter how gloomy it looks outside, no matter how gloomy you feel inside – every single day is the day of salvation.  Jesus has prepared a banquet just for us.  Jesus has supplied the right clothes.  How do I know that you’re going to get into the wedding banquet?  Because for Jesus’ sake, You Are The Bride!  Amen!

Recent Sermons

Lamb-in-Grass

When you are tested see what God provides!

YrB-Lent-RethinkingReligion-English-Title-SocialPost-Square

Rethinking Religion: Trials, Tests and Temptations

gavel

God On Trial Exercised Perfect, Holy Restraint