Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
COME TO THE WEDDING FEAST OF MY SON
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
14 OCTOBER 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Song of Solomon 3:11
Preparation Verse: (Song of Solomon 3:11)
"Go forth, O daughters of Zion,
And gaze on King Solomon with the crown
With which his mother has crowned him
On the day of his wedding,
And on the day of his gladness of heart."
When was the last time you were invited to a wedding feast?
Did you go?
Did you enjoy yourself?
Was there someone there that perhaps you wish was not there?
Did you think that everyone that was there was worthy of being there?
Was there someone there that did something you didn't like, and it spoiled your day?
Did you not go because you thought it would obligate you to reciprocate in one way or another, which you didn't want to do?
The reason I am asking all of these questions is because sometimes people go, or don't go, to a wedding for the wrong reasons.
And there is one wedding feast that I pray we will all be at, for we all have been invited.
Jesus tells us about this wedding in a parable that is recorded in Matthew 22:1-14. Let's take a look at it.
1. And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying,
2. "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son.
3. "And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.
4. "Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast." '
5. "But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business,
6. and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.
One of the things that bothers us about such gatherings or feast is the utter disregard for the pain and suffering inflicted upon innocent animals, and the emphasis on being joyful because of it.
And we struggle to see how such a disconnect can occur within the heart and mind of a person who claims to be a Christian and is filled with the Holy Spirit.
This parable was originally spoken to the Israelites, God's chosen people; and the call to the wedding is their invitation to dwell in heaven forever, as if they were the bride of their Messiah.
And this same message is being spoken today to the church.
But, we need to remember one very important thing; in heaven there is no death and thus no killing of any animals.
We have all been invited to the wedding feast.
But the tragedy of the matter is that most of those, who supposedly knew the Lord, refused to come, finding one excuse after another.
Haven't you heard these excuses from people who claim to be Christians?
Perhaps we may even have made up some of these excuses ourselves.
And when we make up excuses like these, we don't want someone telling us what the Lord wants us to do; and we even may abuse, in one way or another, those who tell us the truth.
There should be such joy at a wedding, why would we not want to be there, particularly this one?
Well, as you can imagine, the king was very upset with this turn of events, for he even tried to entice them with the worldly things they desired.
7. "But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire.
8. "Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
9. 'Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.'
10. "And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
Israel had rejected the message of salvation and had not accepted the Lord's invitation, so the Lord went to the peoples of the world and invited them to come, and many came.
And as was typical in those days, the servants would greet the guests as they arrived, wash their feet, and give them a clean white robe to wear, so all would appear as equal before each other.
11. "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes,
12. and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And he was speechless.
13. "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
14. "For many are called, but few are chosen."
Sometimes we, as the Church, forget that there will one day come a time when we must be accountable, as were the wedding guests.
We so often don't think that the Lord wants us to do what He wants us to do, today, and not sometime in the future.
We think we can still continue to do our own thing, and not turn from our sinful ways and be cleansed.
That was the state of that man who was cast into hell.
He is no longer with his friends. He is separated from everyone. He is lonely and in darkness and in pain, and there is no one to help him forever and ever.
What should we feel about that man?
Should we consider ourselves better than that man?
Should we gloat over his punishment and our apparent acceptance?
Listen to what the prophet Obadiah tells Esau about their brother Jacob, or Israel, in verses 12-14.
12. "Do not gloat over your brother's day,
The day of his misfortune.
And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah
In the day of their destruction;
Yes, do not boast
In the day of their distress.
13. "Do not enter the gate of My people
In the day of their disaster.
Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity
In the day of their disaster.
And do not loot their wealth
In the day of their disaster.
14. "And do not stand at the fork of the road
To cut down their fugitives;
And do not imprison their survivors
In the day of their distress.
We are to feel remorse over the loss of any person, for the Lord our God has given each and every one of us the free will opportunity to repent, to be forgiven, and to enter into everlasting life in heaven.
We not only should feel sorrow for the lost, but also for those who are heading in that direction, those who have hardened their hearts against the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
We are to feel sorrow enough to do something about it.
Within our own engraved invitation to come to the wedding feast of the King's Son is an open invitation for us to bring along others who have not responded to their own invitations.
It is much better that we bring them along, in the hope that they will soften their hearts and clothe themselves in righteousness, than not to bring along one who would repent.
Don't let their present sinful condition prevent you from reaching out to them in love, and don't allow sin to creep into your lives because of their sins. And don’t stay away yourself because of their sins.
Each of us may be, or could have been, that one; or maybe we are the one designated by God to bring them along.
Accept everyone as being potentially acceptable to God, and let God decide who is not worthy of the kingdom of heaven.
Let's not worry so much about what is wrong with some people, but let us rejoice in the fact that we know the truth and, because of our rejoicing, others might see the light.
Hear the encouragement of the psalmist in Psalm 135:
1. Praise the Lord!
Praise the name of the Lord;
Praise Him, O servants of the Lord.
2. You who stand in the house of the Lord,
In the courts of the house of our God!
3. Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.
4. For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself,
Israel for His own possession.
And the Lord has chosen the Church of believers for Himself, for his own possession.
Don't forget that Jacob was a deceiver; but by the grace of God, he became one who wrestled with God until he was worthy of the kingdom of heaven, worthy to be at the wedding feast.
So we are to rejoice; we are to praise the Lord.
Are you praising the Lord?
Do you praise Him continually?
A wedding feast needs the music of praise.
Remember who the Lord is, as the psalmist does:
5. For I know that the Lord is great,
And that our Lord is above all gods.
6. Whatever the Lord pleases, He does.
In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.
7. He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth;
Who makes lightnings for the rain;
Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries.
If we can't recognize the Lord's greatness in our heart, then at least recognize it in His creation.
If your invitation was from the governor of our state or perhaps even from the president, and he offered to pay all of your expenses, would you not go and wear the finest of wedding clothes?
The Lord offers us even more.
And if we have trouble accepting the Lord's invitation, then recognize who He is by His actions against those who reject.
Listen to the psalmist as we continue:
8. He smote the first-born of Egypt,
Both of man and beast.
9. He sent signs and wonders into your midst, O Egypt,
Upon Pharaoh and all his servants.
10. He smote many nations,
And slew mighty kings,
11. Sihon, king of the Amorites,
And Og, king of Bashan,
And all the kingdoms of Canaan;
12. And He gave their land as a heritage,
A heritage to Israel His people.
These kings and nations all rejected the invitation of the Lord our God, and all that they had was given to God's people.
But when Israel also rejected God's invitation, what they had was also taken away. Observe that this is beginning to happen to our nation.
All we could ever need or desire will be provided for us at the wedding feast.
Don't forget who has invited you:
13. Thy name, O Lord, is everlasting,
Thy remembrance, O Lord, throughout all generations.
14. For the Lord will judge His people,
And will have compassion on His servants.
15. The idols of the nations are but silver and gold,
The work of man's hands.
16. They have mouths, but they do not speak;
They have eyes, but they do not see;
17. They have ears, but they do not hear;
Nor is their any breath at all in their mouths.
18. Those who make them will be like them,
Yes, everyone who trusts in them.
Don't let the sins of others, the cares of the world, and the desires for possessions keep you from coming to the wedding feast.
There is no substitution!
Our salvation is only in and through Jesus Christ.
19. O house of Israel, bless the Lord;
O house of Aaron, bless the Lord;
20. O house of Levi, bless the Lord;
You who revere the Lord, bless the Lord.
21. Blessed be the Lord from Zion,
Who dwells in Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!
Perhaps the problem with the Church today, and that of the people who no longer come, is that we have forgotten how to praise the Lord, and how to live in His heavenly will.
And even more tragic is that we have forgotten why we praised the Lord in the first place, if in fact we ever did truly praise Him.
We have forgotten the joy that comes with being a Christian, and having become the bride of the King's Son.
For you see, you are really the guest of honor at the wedding feast.
The Church is the bride of Christ.
And if we truly believe, if we accept this greatest of all invitations, all that is in heaven and all that is on earth and all that has ever been created that is worth possessing is ours.
But, much more importantly, we will have the Lord Jesus Christ for all eternity.
And it begins with our gathering here, and grows stronger, as we continue.