Matthew 22:8-14, Luke 14:21-24, Isaiah 55:1, Revelation 22:17, Matthew 11:28-30, John 14:6
Summary: The original recipients of the invitation to the banquet (Matthew 22:1-7) refused to attend, giving flimsy excuses that resulted in their destruction (v.7). Who would attend the banquet now? Here is where we see the king’s mercy extend to “the least of these.”
The Christian band, Sidewalk Prophets, wrote a song entitled “Come to the Table,” based on the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14) and the call of God for everyone, regardless of their situation, to come to the table and take place in the celebration.
The Wedding Banquet is an evangelistic illustration of the love and mercy of God toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-11). He freely offers the gift of eternal life to all who come to Him for salvation (Matthew 11:28-30; John 3:16, 10:28-30; Acts 4:12; Romans 6:23, 10:9-10, 13).
In the last message, I concentrated on the ridiculous, deliberate, and flimsy excuses the original recipients of the invitation gave, refusing the graciousness of the king and rudely snubbing him in order to pursue selfish, non-essential interests that amounted to nothing in terms of relevance, importance, or eternal peace. The king’s wrath rightfully came upon them (22:7) as a result.
The wedding banquet was ready, and the king was not about to let anything He prepared go to waste. If the original guests would not attend, then those who would never expect to be in the presence of royal favor would. The king ordered His servants to go everywhere and bring as many as they could to sit at the table and enjoy His hospitality.
Who made up this new guest list? Luke writes of them in Chapter 14:21-24. They are described as the “poor, the lame, the maimed, the blind” and anybody else, regardless of status or situation. These dear souls were in no position to return the favor. They had no assets at their disposal and no funds that would equal the abundance that was a characteristic of royal generosity. These souls were physically helpless. They had no favor in the eyes of the elite of society. They would not be treated with graciousness or seen as influencers in local businesses or religious affairs. These people were the living embodiment of lost lambs in need of a caring Shepherd. The king would not only fulfill that role but go above and beyond their expectations.
This is a side of Almighty God that is not preached all that much today, if at all, in most pulpits that would rather concentrate on social issues, trends, fads, and causes that have no eternal significance. On the other side of the spectrum, there are some preachers who are fixated on the wrath of God and how He gleefully hangs the souls of the sinners over the pit of hell like a sadistic child would a spider clinging on to its web in fright.
While God’s wrath is certain as Scripture teaches and will be meted upon all at the appointed time who refuse His offer of salvation, He also comforts the frightened sheep who have been abused, beaten, and left to fend for themselves, helpless among the wolves of the world who circle them continually, waiting for the moment to attack. He pours His wrath upon those who turn away from the offer of forgiveness and redemption He freely provides if we will but call upon Him.
This was the fate of the first list of potential guests, and it was their fault for turning down the royal banquet. We do not see this as He opens the royal hall to those whom His servants have brought in and were now enjoying a hospitality that they would never have expected from a callous world or from the nitpicky and cruel Pharisees whose religion amounted to form and function without following God.
Think about what these souls must have been saying to themselves and to each other. They were more grateful than the first invited might have been if they had come. The richer sort had a good dinner every day. These others showed gratitude and joy and praised the king for his kindness and unexpected generosity. There is no concern for status with this group of souls. They were all equal in the sight of the king and received favor that the previous guests would have taken for granted and expected.
Many decades ago, when I was a new pastor serving in the toe end of the state of Louisiana, our little bunch took a Saturday to do some much-needed repairs on the church building, and being typical Louisianians, we also put together a small feast for the congregation and those who had helped us. Down the road, we saw a young man walking toward us who looked absolutely lost and hungry. He was a sailor from another country who had missed getting on board the ship that would have taken him back to his home port. His English was broken, he was frightened, and he did not know what to do. What he did not expect was our reaction.
We invited him to eat with us, as much as he wanted. We had some donated clothing that we gave to him, and we had a running account with a local hotel that provided shelter and would help him get back to New Orleans and the port chaplain who would take the measures to get him back home.
This man never expected the compassion we gave to him. One could only imagine the testimony he gave to his fellow sailors about the generosity shown him, but also the gospel we shared with him. He had a taste of the royal banquet, and it is ours to taste and enjoy as well, telling others about the kindness of our great King.
The world is in desperate need of compassion and direction. We who are subjects and friends of the King need to invite them to the wedding feast as well and be certain they are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. They cannot get in any other way. We do not want them to be unaware of this and risk being cast out, as was the “crasher” who thought that he could come in on his own terms (22:12-14).
The King of Kings has offered you a place at the table, but you must accept it on His terms. Come to Him with your wounded heart and broken life. Admit that you are a sinner and cannot redeem yourself in your own power. Our works will never be sufficient to remove the stain of sin from us. The King is the only one who can take your life, free you from the burden and curse of sin, clothe you in His righteousness, and let you be seated with Him and all who have graciously accepted this wonderful invitation. He offers the good food the world will never be able to provide. He offers the eternal peace this world will never be able to deliver.
Don’t counter this with a load of excuses. The food is prepared, and your place at the table is set. You have nothing to lose and eternal peace to gain.