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Gerhard on Trinity 20 – Matthew 22:1-14

by pastorjuhl ~ October 20th, 2009

But what is to be understood by the wedding? It is, of course, the Christian Church here on earth and every true member in it; and every believing soul is called Christ’s bride, as evidenced in the Song of Solomon and other places in Scripture. Therefore, it is not amiss to understand this wedding as the spiritual union of the Church and each and every believing soul with Christ. Just as the heavenly Father says to His beloved Son in Psalm 2:8: “Ask it of Me and I will give you the Gentiles as an inheritance and the ends of the world as your possession.” And in Ephesians 5 St. Paul shows us the secret of this relationship; it is the marriage of Christ to His Church.

Nonetheless, since the call of the Christian Church is presented to us in the words of the parable as distinct from the wedding, it seems somewhat closer to the text if we understand it as the union of the divine and the human natures in Christ, in keeping with the words of the Song of Solomon 3:11: “Go out, you daughter of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, on the day of his heart’s delight.” For, as by the bond of marriage two become one flesh (Genesis 2:24), by the personal union the divine and the human natures in Christ are united in one Person. Just as the bride shares in the bridegroom’s possessions, so also Christ bestows His assumed human nature with His heavenly possessions. Accordingly, when the heavenly Father gives His Son in marriage, that which was determined from all eternity is accomplished in the fullness of time, namely, that God’s Son has taken up human nature into the unity of His Person.

Now, it is to this very wedding that the Lord God calls us poor humans, and it is because of us that this wedding has been arranged. For it is because of us that God’s Son has come from heaven and become true man, as attested by the Nicene Symbol. That which He has accomplished in His assumed human nature is intended for our good. Therefore, He sends forth his servants to call us to partake of the joy and feast of this wedding. The call, however, does not occur only once but at various times, as the parable shows. For, since the first of those who were to be invited disregarded the heavenly call, the king sends other servants forth and has them tell those who were next to be invited: “See, I have prepared my feast; and my ox and fattened cattle have been butchered and everything is ready. Come to the wedding.”

This is to be understood as the great treasure of Christ’s benefactions, which have been prepared in all fullness for us in and through Christ, because He offers Himself as the food and drink for our souls (John 6). (Postilla 2:208-209)

By our first parents’ fall into sin we poor humans have been robbed of our magnificent garment of perfect righteousness and holiness. The hellish murderers have stripped us (Luke 10:30) so that we are naked and bare (Rev. 3:17). If we are to stand before God, we must be garbed again and not be found bare. The garment, however, cannot be our own righteousness; for before God this is like a filthy dress (Isaiah 64:6), but Christ with His precious merits is the beautiful raiment that covers our nakedness and shields it from the heat of God’s wrath. We put on Christ by true faith: “You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as have been baptized have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). This is foreshadowed in the tunics of lamb skin the Lord God made for our first parents, for fig leaves were not fit to do it (Genesis 3:21). Christ is the Lamb of God; in His merit we must wrap ourselves, as it were, if we are to stand before God. In Genesis 27:16, Jacob acquired the blessing when he placed the goat skin around his neck and hands; this is how we will partake of the heavenly blessing – when we are garbed with the precious righteousness of Christ (who is the true Scapegoat, Lev. 16). (Postilla 2:213)

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