Dear Baptized, invited, called, and chosen of God in Christ,
Heaven will be the most beautiful place we’ve ever seen or experienced. John tells us there will be no darkness in heaven, but only light, radiating from the Lamb of God. Jesus says there will be many mansions in heaven, and He will come again to take us there. Scripture also speaks of eternal rest and peace, being completely free from all worries and troubles, being face to face with Jesus, our Savior, and being confirmed in bliss, never able to fall away like Adam and Eve did. John tells us “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
But unfortunately, many will not make it there. And so Jesus says, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” And today Jesus says, Many are called, but few are chosen.
Clearly, we need God, we need His Word, we need His grace. We need to be reminded of our Baptism. We need the true body and blood of the Lord, given and shed for the remission of our sins. We need to be reminded that we are invited to heaven. “All things are ready: Come unto the marriage.” God invites us to enjoy eternal salvation through faith in Christ. It makes no difference whether we are rich or poor, young or old, “As many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.” He wants us there with Him in His eternal home. He does not want us to be excluded so He sends us His Word and Spirit that we may know we are invited. His Word is spiritual food for our soul that far outweighs the costliest treasures of this world. And His Spirit works through the Word to assure us we are God’s children by grace through faith.
Today Jesus mentions 3 specific groups that will not enter heaven: those who politely refuse the invitation to heaven, those who violently refuse the invitation to heaven, and those who secretly refuse the invitation to heaven, outwardly pretending to accept it, but inwardly rejecting it in their heart. May our review of Jesus’ words today be for the strengthening of our faith, for our comfort and assurance.
We are invited to the kingdom of heaven, and, by God’s grace, we have accepted that invitation in our hearts, through the power of His Word and Spirit. Our sins are forgiven and covered by Jesus Christ, by His perfect life, through faith in Him. We are called, and chosen for salvation, being baptized into Christ, and having that faith in us nourished by the Word, and by the true body and blood of our Lord.
Jesus says His kingdom is like “a certain King, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.”
Was there just some kind of mistake? Was there just some kind of misunderstanding? Not at all, yet, the King persisted. This is God’s love for us. He sends more servants to invite them again: “Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.”
But, they still wouldn’t come “They made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise.”
They just couldn’t seem to be bothered with the invitation. Their earthly possessions, farm and merchandise, clearly were more important. But what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and yet lose his own soul? Do we care about our eternal soul? What could possibly be more important than receiving the only thing that can save our eternal soul? Scripture says to “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”
This first group refuses the invitation politely. They don’t make a scene. They simply don’t come. But the next group is not so polite.
“And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”
God sent not only Moses, but also Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and many more prophets to invite the people to believe and be saved. Yet, they refused, some politely, some violently, even killing the prophets like John the Baptist. But in the end, being polite did not save anyone. Both groups needed to receive the invitation just as much. Both groups rejected it and as a consequence, God destroyed their capital city in 70AD. God doesn’t care much for political correctness or the world’s idea of politeness – He cares about the truth, and the salvation of eternal souls.
“Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.”
As many as ye shall find. The refers to God turning to the Gentiles and giving the Gospel to them. The Gospel invitation is for all, for both Jew and Gentile. God sent His Son to the cross not for some, but for all people. Scripture says, “He died for all.” We can be confident that we are included in that word “all”. The Bible says that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” We notice that word “all” again. Christ came for the whole world. Are we not part of the world? “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” No matter how great our sins may be, they too, are forgiven. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” Christ went to the cross for all, even for the greatest of sinners, as Jesus says, both the good and the bad are called. Both Joseph of Arimathea, and the thief on the cross, were called, both the good and the bad.
God does not count our sins against us because Jesus already paid for them on the cross. That is why every sinner is invited.
Jesus rose from the grave which proves that God the Father accepted His sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. He won eternal peace between God and man. Whoever believes in Jesus is covered with the robe of His perfect righteousness and will be saved.
“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.”
It’s not an easy truth to face, but many come to church, hear the Word, receive the Sacraments, act like they believe, but yet, they don’t believe. They don’t have on the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness.
Imagine looking forward to attending an important wedding, but then realizing, there's just one problem. You only have one set of clothing. It’s not clean or appropriate for a wedding. You can't afford to buy another set. What will you wear? Longer ago, many people had only one set of clothing. So what would they do when invited to a great wedding? In the East, especially for a royal wedding, there was a simple solution. The King could not have guests showing up without a proper wedding garment, so he provided it for his guests, free of charge. No strings attached. Every guest would have something nice to wear, because it was provided.
This is the Gospel of salvation. Everything needful for our salvation is provided in Christ. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Because of our sin against God in thought word and deed, we are not fit for the kingdom of God… until God covers our sins. We must have on the wedding garment, the righteousness of Christ. And “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
“My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus' blood and righteousness, When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found, Clothed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne! On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.” (TLH 370)
We are invited to the kingdom of heaven, and by God’s grace we have accepted that invitation. Let us not forget or disregard the invitation like Israel did, but continue to gladly hear the Word of God and keep it. Nothing matters more than the salvation of our eternal soul. Through faith in Christ, our sins are covered, and we will be saved. In Jesus’s name. Amen.