Intro: A little over two weeks ago there were four events that did not go un-noticed around the world. First, there was this record breaking tornado touch downs in Alabama killing hundreds. Almost at the same time there was this wedding in London watched by billions around the world. People lined up the streets to see their future king and his wife. Then on that Sunday another big event happened at the Vatican. Then right after that, the killing of Usama Bin Laden. Four big events watched by the world in one week. Is there a message God is telling the world in all these? Starting with Alabama, I believe that was God’s judgment. The Bible says that God sends calamities to punish the people of the earth for their sins. Tornado is one calamity no one can even forecast where it will touchdown. I believe we are under judgment for the many sins of the nation, like keeping God out of the schools. You cannot pray and even mention the name of Jesus in schools or workplace. Then there is the killing of the fetus (abortion) that is protected by law and even funded by the government. And now the support for same sex marriage is gaining among many states. While we had these calamities here, there was this great wedding taking place in London. People were lining the streets to welcome their prince and bride. Many even camped days ahead outside the church building just to take a glimpse of the bridegroom and his bride. I watched part of the wedding and everything was in perfect order but most of all, when the bride came out the sun also came out. It was forecasted that it would rain but God brought the sun out to show who was in control showing that He was pleased. The event was a thing to behold. Then on Sunday following, there was this big event at the Vatican to beatify the late Pope John Paul. They are about to add another god to the thousands of dead saints that the Roman Catholic Church believes can intercede in behalf of their people. It was reported there were more than a million who flooded the Vatican. Then in the evening of the same day, one of the most evil persons was killed. The life of Usama Bin Laden was taken out. So what did we witness? God’s judgment, a preview of a future event in heaven, the wedding of the Lamb and His bride, exalting the dead to be honored or worshiped as another god and the triumph of good over evil. But what does God say about the people who died and all will die and one day face God’s judgment? And who are they?
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Rev. 21:8
Anyone who dies but have not repented and forgiven of sins by the only Savior, Jesus Christ will end up in the lake of burning sulfur. For those who have responded to the gospel will be in heaven for the wedding and banquet.
“The Wedding in Heaven”
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ But they paid no attention and went off – one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said 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. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. Friend, he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matt. 22:1-14
Jesus used many parables to reveal spiritual truth through earthly things and worldly events. And why would He do that? This is the explanation.
Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable, so was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.” Matt. 13:34-35
This was a quote from Psalm 78:2. Jesus clarified this to His disciples.
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will ever be seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused, they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Matt. 13:10-15
It is clear that only His disciples and not the crowd referred to by Jesus as “them” understood the parables. Now what is the message and meaning of this parable we are going to look at today? The central theme of the parable is about a wedding banquet. The main characters are the King being God and his Son Jesus Christ. Now who are the servants? They are those who are already citizens of the kingdom and are commanded to go and deliver the invitations to the wedding. No name is mentioned among the servants and neither are those who were invited but only to tell those who have been invited that the banquet is ready. How did those invited respond? The sad thing is they paid no attention. They rejected the invitation.
How many times have you experienced when you tell people the gospel, giving your best to explain it, only to be told, sorry I am not interested or give any excuse for you to stop because they are busy. In the Muslim countries, Pakistan, some parts in China and North Korea you are in danger of being imprisoned or killed. When Jesus was preaching and giving out this invitation Himself what did they do to Him? Did they believe Him?
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” John 1:10-11
And in the end what did the Jews do to Him? They crucified Him.
What about the servants who followed after Jesus to invite the Jews to the banquet? They too were martyred for their faith in Christ. Last Sunday we read that after Paul preached to the Jews and they rejected the invitation, Paul and Barnabas turned to the Gentiles. Now there were those who responded to Jesus’ invitation. Who were they?
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collector and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” Matt. 21:31-32
Jesus here was talking to the religious who rejected Him. But there are two mentioned by name in the NT. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, were both Pharisees who believed. Jesus also said that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, but it is not impossible because with God all things are possible. And what will God do to those who reject the invitation and especially to those who killed his servants? The King was enraged (wrath of God) and sent his army to destroy the murderers and burned their city just like Sodom and Gomorrah.
The tax collectors in Jesus’ time were the most hated people in Israel especially because they were Jews and took advantage of their people by overtaxing for their benefit. But one of the first disciples Jesus called and invited was Matthew a tax collector. Then another tax collector mentioned was Zachaeus. And one of the followers of Christ was a prostitute believed to be Mary Magdalene and she became one of the most faithful followers of Jesus. What’s the hope today of sinners who are literally and spiritually bankrupt? Just as much hope as anyone because the king sent out more servants to go to street corners and invite anyone they find whether they are good or bad, meaning everybody. The good here does not mean that they are not sinners but good in the sense they are not as bad as others. Compared to Usama bin Laden we are good. Yet the Bible says that both need to be saved for everyone is a sinner and deserves the punishment of death and eternal separation from God. And many came to the wedding hall from the street corners. The wedding of Prince William and Kate was filled with the wedding guests. Every seat was taken and guests were appropriately dressed.
Now when the king came to see the guests he noticed a man not wearing wedding clothes. Today we would call that an impostor. He may be sincere and really want to go to heaven but chose the way of his religious belief. He did not have the prescribed attire and would stand out in the crowd because he did not belong. So the king asked, how did you get in here without wedding clothes? He was speechless. He probably assumed that he had the right to be there, thinking he was good enough. Is it possible for anyone to enter heaven without being noticed? God knows who will be there. The one who gives the right to enter heaven knows who has received Him.
“Yet, to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
“The Lord knows who are his,” and “everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from all wickedness.” 2 Tim. 2:19b
Why does He know? Because God the Son knows whether one has repented of his sins or not. He sees the heart. This is the testimony of those who were with Him while He was still on earth.
“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all men but by witnesses whom God had already chosen, by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:39-43
When Nicodemus came to Jesus, he could not understand what Jesus meant when he said, “You must be born again.” And this is what Jesus told him,
“I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things.” John 3:12
What did Jesus mean by being born again? This is the spiritual birth that must happen before anyone is admitted to heaven. It is a record of live birth like our birth certificate. In the spiritual realm once a person is born again, immediately his name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. And once it is there it cannot be taken out or removed. And when judgment day comes this list is brought out for the final judgment.
“If anyone’s name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:15
Here’s what happens when a person is born again after he repents of his sins and receives Jesus Christ as Lord because he believes. All his sins are forgiven because it has been given up to Christ. All the sins from the time he was born, at present and even sins that may be committed in the future. When Jesus receives what has been given up, He then forgives the repentant sinner and His record of perfect obedience to God is now exchanged for the sinners record. Christ’s righteousness is now credited to the repentant sinner. An exchange deal takes place. He takes our sins, and pays the penalty that He paid for two thousand years ago. When the exchange is done the new covenant is now in effect. God sees the righteousness of Christ in us. This was pictured to us way back in the Garden of Eden. When God clothe Adam and Eve with garments of skin, that represented the righteousness of Christ and their sins were forgiven on the basis of the blood that was shed before God skinned the animal. Now then, everyone that has been born again will have this new life in Christ and will go through a transformation, a process called sanctification to conform every born again believer into the likeness of Christ. One whose name has been written in the Lamb’s book of life has become a member Christ’s body and combined into a local church for his spiritual growth. And Christ will accomplish His purpose for those He has already saved through His church, which is His body.
“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Eph. 5:25b-27
We are looking at the finished product of the church and everyone of its member? Corporately the church is called the bride of Christ. And we are shown this wedding and banquet in heaven in the near future, revealed ahead to us through the apostle John as written in the last book of the Bible.
“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud and peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints) Rev. 19:6-8
This is the picture of what is yet to come and it will surely come. In the meantime every born again believer while still living on earth are to live lives according to the righteous life of Christ. But can we do this on our own? By ourselves we cannot. Only when we let God the Holy Spirit to have full control over us in order to empower us to live the righteous life.
“For it is God who works in you both to will and to act according to His good purpose.” Phil 2:13
“I can do all thing through him (Christ) who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13
Are you fully yielded to God, to work it out His will in your life? Why not? This is the reason why He saved you. Out of the many that has been invited He has chosen you. How do you know He has chosen you? You understand the parables because you believed and have received by faith Jesus Christ in your heart as your Lord.
You may be here today and have not yet been born again and the Holy Spirit is now convicting you of your sins and your need to be saved, God is inviting you to the banquet the wedding of the Lamb. Come to Jesus…