Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Wedding Feast

Life of Christ 154

It is Tuesday morning. Jesus will die tomorrow afternoon. Today is the longest day of His or any man's life. Confrontation began in Jerusalem before He even arrived at the Temple and it will continue almost without interruption until His death on Wednesday afternoon.
          A moment ago He dispatched the Sanhedrin's attack on His credibility, and began an immediate counterattack on the Pharisees. He does this with three parables and today's post is the third of those three parables. (Matthew 22.1-10)
An outdoor court yard prepared for a Jewish wedding
       One of the great occasions in Jewish social life, as in our own, was a wedding. Typically the wedding was held in the evening. The bride would walk from her father's home to her husband's home. Torches were lit and often the happy group was accompanied by music and dancing along the way. The bride, who remained veiled, on her arrival stood with her espoused while the marriage ceremony was conducted. Following this a great feast was held.
          In His third parable of attack on the Pharisees Jesus likens the present situation to just such a wedding feast. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son. Without straining the text, it is quite obvious that the king is Jehovah and the son is Jesus Himself. You will recall that the previous parable, the Lord's vineyard, also contained a son likened to Jesus as well.
          And he sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Jesus has spent years issuing this call to Israel and they have clearly decided to reject the invitation. The Jews were interested in Jesus in a train wreck sort of way but there was in them no corporate reception of and belief in Him in their heart.
          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. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
          This is incredibly harsh language, beloved. Jesus, standing in the Temple and facing down the Pharisees hours before His death, holds nothing back. Again, as with the second of these parables of attack, Jesus calmly informs Israel's religious leadership that He knows exactly what they plan to do with Him. And God will not take such a vile and hateful rejection of His Son sitting down. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Make no mistake. Jesus is hurling the term 'murderer' full in the face of the Pharisees, and telling them that God is going to burn their precious Jerusalem to the ground as a result of this murder.
          Then, as if adding insult to injury, Jesus informs Israel's religious leadership that there opportunity is gone. God will now turn, in the New Testament dispensation, to the Church. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Of course, we as the Church are not worthy either. It is all of grace. Yet at least we are receptive and believing. We have accepted His wedding invitation while the Jews have not. And what, pray tell, is the Church's great responsibility and undertaking? The evangelization of the world. We are to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the Earth. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 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.

          Someday, perhaps this very day, the Church will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. Those remaining on Earth are in for an horrendous time of great tribulation. Earth's climate will be wrecked. Substantially more than half of the entire population of the globe will die various forms of cruel deaths. Satan will take over the government publicly, demand to be worshipped, and point what is left of humanity in the direction of open warfare with God. Yet during this time of great tribulation we, as God's people raptured and assembled together in Heaven, will be experiencing the singular blessing of the marriage feast of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19.9)

          God's plan for Israel is not done. But the sad truth is she long ago rejected the call to the wedding feast and judgment fell upon her as a result. At the same time, her rejection opened up the door of opportunity for Gentiles such as you and I. Let us thank God we have heard and accepted His call to the wedding feast. And let us give ourselves fervently, compassionately, and consistently to Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

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