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Professor, theologian, church historian, pastor
He sent his slaves to call those
who had been invited to the wedding banquet…
(and they) seized his slaves,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged.
He sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers,
and burned their city.”
Wow! Would it not be an understatement to suggest that Jesus tells this parable in a lurid and shocking way? The original guests to the wedding…supposedly friends and family and business associates of the king and his son…assault and murder the slaves that come to them with gracious invitations and the king sends troops to kill all the honored invitees and burn their cities! Wow! This is Surprise Number One.
Then we have Surprise Number Two. The king sends out more slaves and invites random people off the streets, “the good and the bad” (a seemingly direct reference to Matthew 13:47-50) until the banquet hall is overflowing with guests.
Finally, Surprise Number Three. The newly invited guests make it to the party on time but some are not properly dressed and they are disgraced by the king and forcefully removed.
The king has now invited the whole world to the wedding party…a party that was originally designed for only the people of Israel…but those who are on this suddenly enlarged guest list must take care not only to show up, but they must be dressed properly.
With all these Surprises would it surprise you that many scholars think that Jesus never told this parable…and if he did, that Surprise Number Three was added much later. (It’s actually Surprise Number One that is most shocking to me.). God’s wedding party has been thrown open to all and sundry…to gentiles as well as Jews…but that doesn’t mean that once they accept the invitation that they can carry on as if it’s just anyone’s wedding party.
This parable makes it clear that all are welcome in the kingdom of God, but what do you think it means that we must dress properly? Does it mean that we must believe a certain way, act a certain way, worship a certain way, relate to God and to each other a certain way? Email your thoughts. I would love to hear what you think.
Almighty God, give us the joy of accepting your invitation and the wisdom to know how we should prepare for the party. Amen.
May the grace and peace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ,
be with you now and forevermore…