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Trinity 20 – Matthew 22:1-14

by pastorjuhl ~ October 22nd, 2009

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

They were not willing to come. They made light of it and went their ways. Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment? For many are called, but few are chosen. Harsh words from our Lord’s parable in Matthew chapter 22. A certain king arranges a wedding feast for his son. Those invited are not willing to come. They don’t give the invitation due consideration. They think the king a fool. The king sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

Wedding feast, take two, this time with uninvited strangers along the highways. One among the many filling the wedding hall isn’t wearing the proper garment. The king says bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then comes the difficult saying for many are called, but few are chosen.

Jesus’ saying is hard to understand, especially in today’s politically correct environment. It is offensive to leave anyone out of anything. The world says, “What do you mean many are called, but few are chosen? Either all are called and chosen or none are called and chosen.” To say all are called and chosen is universalism, the belief that all mankind will be saved whether or not they believe in the Triune God. To say none are called and none are chosen is declaring the Christian faith a lie. There will be no eternal life. There will be nothing to look forward to after death. Dead is dead.

Those who refuse our heavenly Father’s call are dead in their sins. They cling to their vocations as their salvation. They treat the King’s messengers spitefully, seize them, and kill them. Holy Scripture has many examples of the prophets being treated worse than heathens are. The apostles did not escape poor treatment. Christian tradition has it that Saint John the Evangelist is the only apostle of the first twelve to die a natural death. The others were martyred for their bold confession of Jesus Christ crucified.

Part of the martyr’s confession of Christ is the stern preaching of the Law. Isaiah says in the Old Testament reading why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Saint Paul says in the Epistle See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise…do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with win, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. Notice that Paul calls walking outside the will of the Lord unwise and those who do so are called fools. Nevertheless, Christians seem to be the ones called unwise and fools for proclaiming the immortal and exclusive God.

Our Lord’s hard saying means that heaven will be full, but not as full as our human minds might think. It does no good to talk about those who refuse God’s call to the wedding feast because they aren’t here. No matter what you and I say or do, they won’t be persuaded by God’s Word. They have their own gods. They have their own comfort in people and things that will be destroyed on the Last Day. What the mind can’t get around is this business of those who act like Christians on the outside, but on the inside care nothing for the kingdom of heaven. That’s what the expulsion of the man not wearing a wedding garment is about.

Christians wear two garments. One is the robe of righteousness put upon you at your Baptism. Christ’s garment of incorruption covers your sins and makes you a new creation. The other garment we wear is the garment of the New Man who hates walking as a slave to sin. Daily you cast off the garment of the Old Adam so the New Man may emerge and walk in righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. Casting off the Old Adam is what it means to live in your baptismal grace. As a new creation, you want to love God and your neighbor. You despise sin and want to do better.

When the Old Man’s clothes cover up the robe of righteousness, or when the Old Man’s clothes are worn exclusively, you are not clothed properly for the King’s wedding feast. You love your own way rather than the Lord’s Way. You say and do all the right things on the outside, but inside there is no renovation of the heart. You mouth prayers and praise to God, but the heart and the mouth are not in harmony. The heart is set on worldly things. The heart is set opposite God’s will for you.

Who then can be saved? You and I have cast off our wedding garment many times. If Christ’s Word is true, and His Word is true because the Scriptures cannot be broken, then there is no hope for a Christian. Where Christ is, there is no lack of hope. Though many are called, but few are chosen, there still is room in the heavenly mansions. There still is hope for the hopeless, even when you believe heaven’s doors are closed. You are here to receive God’s precious gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. You come to God’s House with a repentant heart that longs to cast off Old Adam and put on the New Man. You seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

Did you hear those words? The Lord has mercy and pardons those who return to the Lord and forsake the way of wickedness! Saint Paul writes be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. God’s standard default position with sinners is mercy. He has mercy on you when you stop walking the way of death and return to the Way of life.

The preaching of the Law is a preaching of repentance. It is as if you are about to walk off the side of a cliff and someone cries out for you not to walk any farther lest you die. You don’t have to trust the person crying out for you to stop. You can trust yourself and take your chances. On the other hand, you can heed the call of safety and return from whence you came.

The Collect for the day bids the Lord to grant His faithful people pardon and peace. These things are yours because Jesus Christ is the One Whose Father arranged a marriage. The marriage is when the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary conceives Jesus. God and man come together in her womb. God and man come together and is born without sin, yet suffers the death you deserve. God and man come together out of the grave so when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead, you will come out of the grave leaving your old grave clothes behind. You will be the new creation that is yours through water and the Word of God in Holy Baptism.

See, the Lord has prepared a Supper before you in the presence of your enemies. All things are ready. Come to the wedding feast that is a foretaste of the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb in His never-ending kingdom. Eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Hear, and your soul shall live. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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