Twentieth Sunday after Holy Trinity
Sunday Sermon Notes
October 14 & 15, 2018
KJV Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
The parables of Jesus are so powerful because they preserve the teaching of Jesus in a concise and easy to remember way. They translate easily because the circumstances of the parables are basic to all cultures. The main loss can be seen today when only a small percentage of Americans understand the plants and animals created for our benefit. That is not the fault of the parables but the result of an agricultural society that is largely urban now.
The rationalists and scoffers try to separate the ministry of Jesus and the teaching of Paul in this way. They claim that Paul presented faith in Jesus as a new doctrine that was unknown to Jesus. Here is a parable that no one would dispute as coming from Jesus, and the necessity of faith in Him is taught so clearly and from so many perspectives, that missing the lesson can only reveal blindness and hardness of heart.
Am I wrong in saying most people know this parable by heart in most of the details? The ending is quite strange, with one wedding guest being tossed into Hell, so that is hard to forget by itself, not to mention the details about the excuses.
2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
This certain king - typical parable language - is God the Father, and the marriage feast is for His Son Jesus. The Old Testament has this image already in the Song of Solomon, and our relationship with God is often discussed in the same way, such as Hosea's marriage to a wanton women representing the faithfulness of God and the apostasy of His people.
Jesus spoke of Himself as the groom and the Church as the bride. God created the marriage of a man and his wife by the Word. All societies recognize this as basic to their structure, even though there are exceptions that prove the perversity of man. Those women caught up in polygamy, still widely practiced in Utah and elsewhere, hate it.
So a marriage is a major event in the lives of people, and we all know about weddings we have attended going back to childhood. They are special occasions where people set aside their schedules to participate, often traveling to be there.
3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
The various invitations can be seen as happening over centuries, because the Promise of the Messiah began at Genesis 3:15 and continued throughout the Old Testament. Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5).
The binding of Isaac foreshadowed the sacrifice of Christ. The Gospel began in the Old Testament, because Abraham believing God (Genesis 15) meant more than having a son. The Promise was being a Father of Many Nations. Abraham was the forerunner of the Messiah and the Christian Church, the Father of Faith in Him.
The Psalms and the prophets are full of the Gospel Promises, too, all invitations to believe in the coming Messiah.
But the Jewish people did not remain faithful to the Word and hoped for another kind of Messiah. As Israel declined, Greece took over. Then a brief rebellion restored the throne, but that did not last long. Once they had enough turmoil and bloodshed, they invited Rome to come in as peacekeepers, and Rome stayed. Israel became a Roman province and a pagan king was placed on the throne of David.
"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." Gen 49:10
4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, 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. [fatlings are the young fattened for slaughter]
More invitations are sent, and these are repeats to those who refused before. Now the feast is made even more attractive.
4. These words beautifully picture to us and teach how we should make use of the life of the saints; namely, to introduce examples by which the doctrine of the Gospel may be confirmed, so that we may the better, by the aid of such examples and lives, meditate upon Christ, and be nourished by and feast upon him as upon fatlings and well fed oxen. This is the reason he calls them fatlings. Take an example: Paul teaches in Romans 3:23f. how the bride is full of sin and must be sprinkled by the blood of Christ alone, or she will continue unclean, that is, she must only believe that the blood of Christ was shed for her sins, and there is no other salvation possible. Then he beautifully introduces the example of Abraham and confirms the doctrine of faith by the faith and life of Abraham, and says, 4:3: “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.” That is a true ox, it is properly slain, it nourishes us, so that we become grounded and strengthened in our faith by the example and faith of Abraham. Again, soon after Paul lays before us a fine fatling, when he cites David the Prophet of God and proves from him, that God does not justify us by virtue of our works, but by faith, when he says, Romans 4:6-8: “Even as David also pronounceth blessing upon the man, unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works,” saying in Psalm 32:1-2: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin.” thus far Luther
My oxen and my fatlings are the feast of Gospel blessings and comforts. These examples convey the enormous amount provided to us as well as the varieties of comforts and blessings. At any given feast, multiple examples of meat, fish, vegetables, desserts, and other food are provided, not out of necessity, but to please everyone in every possible way.
The Scriptures, hymns, and liturgies provide countless ways in which to keep us in the faith and enjoying the benefits of Christianity, in spite of bearing the cross.
5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
The reaction to the Gospel Word has always been apathetic, hostile and violent.
These are the three barriers that prevent us from coming to the marriage feast. The first, or the farm, signifies our honor; it is a great hindrance that we do not think of Christ and believe in him; we fear we must suffer shame and become dishonored, and we do not believe that God can protect us from shame and preserve us in honor. The second go to their spheres of business, that is, they fall with their hearts into their worldly affairs, into avarice, and when they should cleave to the Word, they worry lest they perish and their stomachs fail them; they do not trust God to sustain them. The third class are the worst, they are the high, wise and prudent, the exalted spirits, they not only despise but martyr and destroy the servants; in order to retain their own honor and praise, yea, in order to be something. For the Gospel must condemn their wisdom and righteousness and curse their presumption. This they cannot suffer; therefore they go ahead and kill the servants who invited them to the dinner and the marriage feast. They were the Pharisees and scribes, who put to death both Christ and his Apostles, as their fathers did the Prophets. These are much worse than the first and second classes, who, although they despised and rejected the invitation, yet then went away and neither condemned nor destroyed the servants. Thus far Luther.
Most recall from Mark 13 and parallel passages, that Jesus predicted the Fall of Jerusalem, and it happened as He described it. This is another reference to that future event. Rejection of the Son and the Apostles meant that Rome would come and destroy Jerusalem.
8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
The wedding feast is something out of the constraints of time, because the festal invitations began when the Gospel was first taught in Genesis and continues today as people hear about the Son's love for the Bride, those who believe in Him.
The initial guests rejected the invitations, though they were well prepared with the Old Testament lessons and worship for many centuries. The apostles went out in all directions to find people to attend this festival, and they gathered them, the good and the bad.
11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
This part threw me, long ago, when I was a young seminarian. How can one explain such a strange and violent reaction to clothing. As I mentioned before, the baptism robe probably was doubtless associated with the idea of "putting on Christ," a term used by Paul.
The Groom is the Savior and the Bride is comprised of the sinners who are Christian believers. The Groom is "Beautiful Savior" but we are not. We are gnarled and twisted by the effects of sin, but we are given the robe of Christ's righteousness, so we are beautiful too.
As Luther wrote in his sermon, when a man marries a woman, he thinks only of her, and she thinks only of him. Two individuals become one and grow away from the self-centeredness of individualism to the selflessness of marriage and family.
Likewise Christ thinks only of His Bride, all believers, and they think only of Him.
But some show up who still believe in their works making them righteous. Martin Chemnitz taught in his Justification book that justification became so distorted that people had to examine exactly what it meant.
Before the Reformation, justification by faith was not taught as the Gospel. Works had to be added. When Luther emphasized justification by faith, the Church of Rome did everything possible to silence Luther, kill him, and scatter his followers.
In era after era, Lutherans have abandoned the Biblical doctrine, only to have it scorned and rejected again. As we can see from the ending of this comforting and warning parable, this is aimed at us also. Our hope is based upon the merits of Christ, not our own works.