Sunday, October 21, 2012

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity. Matthew 22:1-14.
Parable of the Wedding Feast

Norwich


The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, 2012


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #  39        Praise to the Lord                              3:1
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 370            My Hope Is Built              3:11     

The Bride and Groom

The Communion Hymn # 246            Holy, Holy, Holy             3:35
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 309                 O Jesus Blessed Lord             3:70

KJV Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

KJV Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Twentieth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We thank Thee, that of Thy great mercy Thou hast called us by Thy holy word to the blessed marriage-feast of Thy Son, and through Him dost forgive us all our sins; but, being daily beset by temptation, offense, and danger, and being weak in ourselves and given to sin, we beseech Thee graciously to protect us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we fall not; and if we fall and defile our wedding-garment, with which Thy Son hath clothed us, graciously help us again and lead us to repentance, that we fall not forever; preserve in us a constant faith in Thy grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


The Bride and Groom


KJV Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

The parable has several lessons, which remind us about the basic Gospel. In this parable we can see the wonderful unity of the Scriptures, where each passage is related to the others.
We also have such clear pictures of the lessons being given. Parables are for believers, for additional instruction. They deepen our understanding of the Gospel, which is designed for one purpose – that we believe in Christ, receive forgiveness of our sins, and dwell with Him now and in eternity.

We can see that this parable is an answer to what just happened before –

KJV Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

The context matters especially when the introductory sentence shows a transition, as this one does. Jesus is warning the religious opponents, and this next parable serves as a warning and a lesson.

Jesus described Himself as the Bridegroom and the true Church as the Bride. This relationship is also used in Revelation.

KJV John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

KJV Revelation 21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

So first of all there is a spiritual meaning to this parable, and it is built around an event common to all people – being invited to a wedding. But this is a royal wedding.

This king is God, and his son is Christ.

Lenski:
The unity of the parable is at once expressed: “a king who made a wedding for his son.” We are told what happened in connection with this wedding, namely how the king and his son were treated by the various persons who had been invited to the wedding. For this reason nothing is said about the bride of the king’s son. The moment we perceive the force of the opening statement and note that it governs everything that is introduced into the parable, its grand unity will be apparent, and we shall not agree with those who speak of two parables pasted together (v. 3–10, and v. 11–14) or of a parable consisting of two parts. The perfect unity of the whole is again stated at the conclusion in v. 14. The word γάμος or its plural may mean either “a wedding” or “a wedding feast”; in v. 2–9 we have the plural, but in v. 8 and in 10–12 the singular. This wedding and the invitations to attend it picture the grace of God that provides salvation for the world of sinful men in connection with Christ. It includes redemption, the means of grace, and the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, as these apply equally to all men.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 848.


2 The kingdom of heaven is like

The parable answers the question about salvation – who is saved and why? Many different voices try to confuse the issue, because people would rather dither about many things than listen to the clear teaching of the Word.

So, if someone is wondering about these matters, or needs to be instructed in more detail, this parable answers the big questions about the Christian Faith, about all religions.

 unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,


The king is God, and the Son is Christ. A royal wedding is a national event in any country. This is One King and One Son, so it means the one true God and His only-begotten Son.

All weddings are special events. When my Facebook friends get married, I make a point of wishing God’s blessings, because it is a witness to society in this age of do whatever you want. A wedding unites friends and families. The wedding traditions of other societies are more illustrative than ours.

An ethnic wedding includes as many people as possible, and the service itself is followed immediately by a huge feast, which lasts for hours. The German tobacco farmers in Canada would have a formal meal for 400 guests, which they considered modest and typical, followed hours later by a second midnight informal dinner. Everyone was expected to come, and everyone was expected to eat heartily both times. One cousin said, “A dinner for 600 is just too much – showing off.”

In India, there are many traditions for weddings, and each wedding is expected to last for days to accommodate all the individual events.

We can picture this parable as equivalent to the only son of the monarch of England getting married. Who would not want an invitation? Who would not want to go? It would be the event of a lifetime. Since the king can avoid anyone he wants, each invitation is gracious, special, and to be treasured.

Matthew 22:3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

This is redemption in the parable. In the Scriptures, the Gospel is an invitation. Christ has died for the sins of the world. He allowed the law to throw its entire force against Him so that He carried the full weight of the sins of the world.

Redemption (one English word) has two different but related meanings in the New Testament.

One meaning of redemption is to pay the price – easily recognized in Greek as related to the market place (agora). People with agoraphobia are afraid to go out in the public.

KJV Galatians 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Another meaning of redemption is release or ransom -

KJV Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

KJV Luke 2:38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

KJV Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

KJV Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

As Lenski argued, this redemption is an accomplished fact, announced by the apostles and followers of Christ.

and they would not come.

This is the efficacious call of the Gospel. Everyone is invited but many refuse. Many begin in the faith and fall away.

The obstinate refusal of man is often turned into “making a decision.” This is common (but not universal) in Baptists, for there are Calvinistic Baptists. This is also common in Universal Objective Justification, where people are told they are already forgiven, without faith, and now they must make a decision about this (J. P. Meyer, WELS, Ministers of Christ).

The crucifixion, resurrection, and Gospel call are a fact. The Holy Spirit stirs up faith in this truth, this action from God, in the very act of inviting and proclaiming.

The Word has an effect, and we should never doubt that effect. The more someone is lost in his own righteousness, the more he will respond against the alien righteousness proclaimed in the Gospel Promises.

Faith makes a meager beginning, and Satan reacts against that, eager to keep his own kingdom full. Baptized babies are blessed with parents who believe (unless they just want their child “done”), and lack the adult resources to doubt everything. Children have years of wanting to learn, being eager to learn, and parents can teach them without hesitation.

Adults are often surrounded by antagonists against the Gospel and cultural bias. Our friends from Hong Kong said their conversion to the Christian faith was seen by their families as a betrayal of the clan, which is very powerful in Asia. One never goes against the patriarch. An immigration leader said that an Asian patriarch could decide to move to another city, and 150 people would move with him.

This particular example, in the parable, illustrates the refusal of the Jewish people to receive Christ. Many did, but the many conversions cause a reaction where the Jewish Christians were kicked out of the synagogues and people like Paul (before his conversion) worked against the Christian Faith.

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.



Luther:
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.”

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Jesus Weeping Over Jerusalem, by Norma Boeckler
http://www.normaboecklerart.com


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.

This great invitation is mocked, because of the foolishness of man. Three responses are listed in regard to material concerns. One went back to his farm, the other went back to his business.

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.
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Luther’s words describe three groups of people quite well. One group is offended that they might need God and forgiveness. Another group, especially the clergy, worry that faith would cost them comfort, security, and a full tummy. The clergy can pretend to believe and go through the motions, but they do not believe if they reject justification by faith – which is the Gospel. The third group today is the hierarchy of all church bodies. They are timid and helpless, until they get a chance to get rid of the pastor, scatter the flock, and grab the property for themselves. The quivering, passive bowls of jello—the DPs and Bishops-- turn into savages who roar their revenge and spare no effort to express their vindictiveness and greed.

This has been the case throughout history. The teaching of the pure Word has been accompanied by rejection and violent reaction. Luther describes the fruit of the Spirit as affliction. If the affliction is great, the Gospel is having a greater effect. Our weakness sees the affliction more than the blessings, because there is no obvious blessing meter to show us the daily score. The afflictions are easy to experience, count, and recount. As Luther observed, the worst is having it come from within the visible church.

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.

This is the Destruction of Jerusalem, about 40 years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. It happened after Christianity took root in Jerusalem, so strongly that apostles were killed and the believers driven away. Jerusalem had many warnings and gracious invitations – from the prophets, from Jesus, from the apostles.

Some would say that God is so gracious that He forgives everyone without any notion of faith. This parable says the opposite, because the one thing that matters is faith.

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.

I find this to be humorous in an ironic way. The traditional guests did not accept the invitations, rejected the servants, mocked and killed them. So God invited the left-overs, the good and bad – and we are those people.

This parable reminds us of the Sower and the Seed. The sower throws the seed in all directions, knowing it will take root (or not). God broadcasts the Gospel invitation through believers, and we know that the seed of the Word will take root. We do not have to judge, because it is up to God, and God will prosper His work.

Very Important Climax of the Parable
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.
The under-text of the parable is the relationship between the Bride (the Church) and the Bridegroom (Christ). Faith draws them together. On this earth, the bride cares only for the groom, and the groom does all he can for the bride. People put their wedding photos on Facebook, and we see that reflected in their faces. Even better, we see the photos from 40 and 50 years ago. I know a couple that met at my elementary school. They are retired and living near their grandchildren. They look like Ken and Barbie in their wedding photo.

So Christ, as the Groom, loves those within the true Church and yet never stops extending the Gospel call to believe. The Bride returns this divine love and is united with Christ in faith and love.

http://www.normaboecklerart.com


16. Now, what do we bring to him? Nothing but all our heart-aches, all our misfortunes, sins, misery and lamentations. He is the eternal light, we the eternal darkness; he the life, we death; he righteousness, we sin. This is a marriage that is very unequal. But what does the bridegroom do? He is so fastidious that he will not dwell with his bride until he first adorns her in the highest degree. How is that done? The Apostle Paul teaches that when he says in Titus 3:5-6: “He gave his tender body unto death for them and sprinkled them with his holy blood and cleansed them through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” He instituted a washing; that washing is baptism, with which he washes her. More than this, he has given to her his Word; in that she believes and through her faith she becomes a bride. The bridegroom comes with all his treasures; but I come with all my sins, with all my misery and heart-griefs. But because this is a marriage and a union, in the sense that they become one flesh, Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5, and they leave father and mother and cleave to one another, they should embrace each other and not disown one another, although one is even a little sick and awkward; for what concerns one, the other must also bear.

The many invitations to the festival are the Means of Grace. This confrontation teaches justification by faith. For unbelievers, the ending of the parable is nonsensical and confusing. Why would someone be invited to a feast, attend, and then be cast out for not being dressed properly?

The king sees a guest without a proper wedding garment. The confronted man has nothing to say – he is speechless. The king casts the man into the outer darkness, where he is also bound hand and foot. “Many are called but few are elect.”

The proper wedding garment is not our righteousness but the righteousness of Christ, which is ours only by faith.

“Clothed in righteousness” is an important phrase to remember.

KJV Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

KJV Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

The baptismal robe signified the external or alien righteousness of Christ, which we put on through faith in Him. It is the only appropriate garment, since otherwise we are simply sinners without forgiveness.

That seems so clear to believers, opaque to the rest. When confronted about doctrine, the false teachers defend themselves with their own honor – they have the right relatives, the right teachers, the right membership in the right visible church.

The false teachers strike by saying, “You are a bad person. You do not count for anything. You have talked to me in the wrong way, which is a sin.”

Repeating Lenski:
This wedding and the invitations to attend it picture the grace of God that provides salvation for the world of sinful men in connection with Christ. It includes redemption, the means of grace, and the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, as these apply equally to all men.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 848.

Therefore my death thus vanishes in his life, my sins in his righteousness and my condemnation in his salvation. Here my sin is forced between the hammer and the anvil, so that it perishes and vanishes. For now since my sin, my filth is taken away he must adorn and clothe me with his eternal righteousness and with all his grace until I become beautiful; for I am his bride. Thus then I appropriate to myself all that he has, as he takes to himself all that I have; as the Prophet Ezekiel 16:6f says: “I passed by thee, and thou wast naked, and thy breasts were fashioned and were marriageable; then I spread my skirts over thee and covered thy nakedness, gave thee my Word and put on thee beautiful red shoes.” Here he relates many kind acts he did for her; and later he complains in verse 15, how she became a harlot. He tells us all this, that he clothed us with his riches and that we of ourselves have nothing. Whoso does not here lay hold of this as sure, that he has nothing of himself, but only Christ’s riches and cannot without doubt say, Thou art mine, he is not yet a Christian.

18. Now since Christ is mine and I am his: if Satan rages, I have Christ who is my life; does sin trouble me, I have Christ who is my righteousness; do hell and perdition attack me, I have Christ, who is my salvation. Thus, there may rage within whatever will, if I have Christ, to him I can look so that nothing can harm me. And this union of the divine with the human is pointed out in the picture here of the marriage feast, and the exalted love God has to us, in the love of the bride.

19. Now the wedding garment is Christ himself, which is put on by faith, as the Apostle says in Romans 13:14: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Then the garment gives forth a luster of itself, that is, faith in Christ bears fruit of itself, namely, love which works through faith in Christ. These are the good works, that also flash forth from faith, and entirely gratuitously do they go forth, they are done alone for the good of our neighbor; otherwise they are heathenish works, if they flow not out of faith; they will later come to naught and be condemned, and be cast into the outermost darkness.

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So we can see how Jesus gives us a clear portrait of salvation in Him, the rejection of the Gospel, justification by faith, and unbelievers within the visible church.

The more we think about this parable, the more clearly we can see church history and the state of the church today.

http://www.normaboecklerart.com

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