This weekend many people will pause and be thankful … or at least they will be reminded that they should be thankful. Too many people these days don’t have the time or the inclination to be thankful. And if you have to be told to be thankful (as I heard woman do to her daughter yesterday), will you really be thankful, or just put out? This civic holiday is not for everyone. Will you be thankful or not? Or do you find yourself too busy? Or too worried? Is your heart too full of grief and pain and sadness to find the joy that you know should be part of this celebration? No matter how well you are able to embrace this weekend’s festivities, I pray at least that you are not like far too many friends and neighbours around us who are simply too full of themselves and their life goals to be thankful for what has been given them.
That was the problem of the chief priests and the pharisees, and all those who fought with Jesus in those last few days at the temple. They were too full of themselves to be thankful. They had worked hard to deserve what they wanted from God. They didn’t want Jesus taking that away from them. We can often fall into the same trap. We work hard, we look out for others, we volunteer, and go to church … why some of you are even reading your Bibles with pastor! When good things come, its because you deserve it, right? So why be thankful for the things you so rightly deserve?
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come … But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.
God Himself is the king. The wedding-feast is that of the Messiah’s kingdom, the marriage of the Lamb. The first invitation was issued to the chosen people of the Old Testament, the nation of the Jews. The prophets came to them in increasing numbers, with increasing clearness of message. Then came John the Baptist, Christ Himself, the apostles, with their urgent call to repentance and salvation. But the answer was indifference, hatred, blasphemy, murder. Then God’s patience was exhausted, then His judgment was executed upon Jerusalem and upon the Jewish nation, the Romans under Vespasian and Titus laying siege to their capital and destroying both Temple and city, 70 A. D.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Since that time the Lord has faithfully attempted to get other guests for His wedding-feast. His messengers have gone forth on the highways and byways of the Gentile nations throughout the world. The Christian Church has spread to practically every country of the earth. Men of every tongue have been assembled in the great hall of the Lamb’s wedding-feast. Good and bad, hypocrites and sincere believers, are joined in the outward communion known as the visible Church. But the time of the King’s reckoning is coming.
He has provided, through His Son Jesus Christ, a wedding-garment of spotless righteousness and purity for every sinner that is called to the feast. This festal garment covers the filth and nakedness of their sin. He will lay bare the deceit, if not before, then on the great Day of Judgement. And the insult to the love of God will be properly punished when every person that puts his trust in his own merit and works will be cast into the dungeon of hell with its everlasting torments. The meaning of the parable couldn’t be more clear.
And yet this parable is so much more than mere warning for those who are unthankful and unreceptive to God’s call. It is primarily about that gracious call, by this loving God. For consider this, it is not a commoner who invites, but a king. And not to a concert or a show or a lecture that we are invited us, but a feat, a banquet. To His own palatial table. It is not just any feast, but a marriage feast for His Son. It is God who furnishes everything and makes all the preparations; there is nothing we have to bring. He invites rather than commands our attendance, and He personalizes the invitations.
What’s more, He invites again – and more hospitably – when they don’t first come. He does not become disillusioned and abandon the project when the first guests invited scuttle His plans. He insists that His house be filled with guests (for God will have all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth). He does not discriminate; He instructs His servants to pick up guests from the highways and byways, regardless of whether the are bad or good. Finally, He even supplies the clothes for the occasion and graciously comes around to talk personally with each of the guests present.
While this parable holds a warning for those who will not be thankful no matter what, it also seeks to show why we can and should be so eternally thankful. For everything is ready. And the invitation is for one and all. ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’
When it comes to our salvation, all is of God: the idea, the food, the preparations, the invitations, and even the garments. There is nothing left for us to do but to enjoy! This thanksgiving weekend, whether happily or not, as we sit down with our loved ones I pray that our Lord would teach us thoroughly and bring us to that point that we can be truly thankful for that great mercy we have received in being invited to such a blessed heavenly feast, where we shall find salvation from sin, devil, death, and eternal wailing! Rejoice, Give Thanks, and Sing … for everything is ready!