Several years ago, Nicole Contos was scheduled to be married in a Manhattan church.
She showed up, 250 invited guests showed up, but the groom didn’t. He took off for Tahiti, the intended honeymoon location. So, there she was with a $100,000 reception and no wedding. What did she do?
She did the same thing the king in Matthew 22 did when his son’s reception didn’t turn out as planned. She said, “The food is ready, the drink is ready. We’re gonna have a party. And she did.” Last week, we looked at Jesus’ parable of a wedding ceremony in which a king’s invited guests opted not to come to his son’s marriage feast and killed the servants who came looking for the no-shows. Not a smart plan, since the king had an army at his disposal and sent it to annihilate the killers. (Not exactly a memorable marriage moment.) The parable doesn’t end there, however. The king then sent word for anyone and everyone to come and fill the seats for the banquet, and come they did.
Every down-and-out, every castle cast-off, came running.
But this is where the story turns wacky. The king, checking on his guests, noticed a man “who did not have on a wedding garment.” When asked why, the guest remained mute. “Then the king said to the servants, ’Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:11-14). A little over-kill, perhaps?
Tell me your heart doesn’t ache for the poor man. I mean, perhaps he had no fine clothes. Did his last-minute invitation come with a “formal attire” heads-up? Did everyone else have time to run home, sponge off in the Jordan River and don sequined togas?
I’m guessing not.
So, why is this guy singled out? Commentators write that none of these eleventh-hour invitees would have had appropriate clothing. The king would have supplied the guests’ apparel; all they had to do was to put it on. But this guy wouldn’t even do that much. He decided to come on his own terms instead of submitting to the king’s wishes.
Jesus’ point is well taken. The Jews—listening to Jesus as he spoke– had plenty of opportunities to R.S.V.P. favorably to God’s invitation to follow His commandments. God even sent His son, Jesus, but most of the Jews refused to believe that he was the Messiah. They said they would obey. They didn’t.
We’ve all met them. God has invited our neighbors, friends and relatives to be a part of His kingdom feast, yet they choose to remain spiritually sloppy. Most can’t find the time to participate, and many who come fail to completely submit. But are we just as guilty? Do we daily respond to God’s prodding, to serve Him before ourselves, to maintain the same enthusiasm we had when we first answered His call, to live up to kingdom standards? “Many are called but few are chosen.”
The choice is ours to make.