The Wedding Feast
19th Sunday after Pentecost
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
More than once Jesus speaks in parables and more than once, he compares the kingdom of heaven to an earthly setting. He takes a picture of a mundane occurrence, that which we have seen, experienced or at the very least heard of, and compares it to something that is literally out of this world.
He uses these short little stories in order to allow us to conceptualize something that in no way could be understood by our small human and sin filled minds. No creature of this earth could ever understand the breadth and depth of a heavenly kingdom. One cannot mentally grasp the idea of a place where there is no sin, no pain and no death. Since we are all sinful creatures, we cannot fully visualize an existence where all are righteous and holy as God is holy.
Therefore, Jesus creates an analogy for our child-like minds to take hold and maybe glean the tiniest bit of understanding. Through his words we see a picture of a wedding feast in a royal kingdom. Revealed to us is a king who is to host a wedding for his son.
This is not an earthly kingdom but a heavenly kingdom, where God alone is King. Jesus is His son, the bridegroom, and the Christian church here on earth is his bride. The royal marriage is for Jesus and his church. The good and gracious king invites many guests to the wedding. For this reason we say that the kingdom of heaven is also on earth; however, it is not a worldly or temporal kingdom, but a spiritual and eternal kingdom. In this way the reign of God and His kingdom comes to us here on earth through faith.
Because our God is with us and rules over us in this earthly realm, we can see His work among the people and wherever the gospel is preached. We partake of His kingdom wherever believers in Christ partake of his body and blood in the sacrament of communion and in the forgiveness of sins through the sacrament of baptism. The “kingdom of heaven” is the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of the gospel and faith.
Where the gospel is, there is Christ. Where Christ is, there are the Holy Spirit and his kingdom, the true kingdom of heaven. Through our baptism Christ claimed us as children of God and makes us heirs to the kingdom of heaven. We fully realize eternal life in this kingdom once we shuffle off this mortal coil.
The kingdom of heaven is where the Word and faith are to be found. In this Word and faith we have a living hope, cleansed from sin and delivered from death and hell. This is why St. Paul exhorts the faithful in Philippi to ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice… The Lord is at hand’ [Philippians 4:4, 5b] The Lord is not far away but near. We have no reason to fear but to give thanks joyfully.
The King of heaven has sent out the invitation for the faithful to celebrate a wedding feast without end in His eternal kingdom. The invitation began with His chosen people, the Israelites. Through the prophets they were given the news of the savior and redeemer who was to come into the world from the line of David. This Prince of Peace would tear down the curtain that separated us from his kingdom. The royal Son of God was to become man to be crucified for our sin and pay the ultimate debt of death in order to end the reign of the Lord of Lies.
Sadly, as in the parable, the invited guests stayed away and even killed the servants of God. They wished to stay in their sin believing their lives here in this kingdom were more important. They focused on their business and their vice, ignoring the message of salvation.
Oh how well we see those invited to the feast shunning the Word of God. They do it openly and publicly. The first step is to deny the master of the feast, God Almighty. Next, the Son, the bridegroom, is denied and finally, the selfish excuses of their own importance is propped up as their new god.
Therefore, God sent out other servants, for the time was at hand for Christ to come. There were John the Baptist and the disciples of Christ who announced that the wedding feast was prepared, and nothing was lacking. But all was in vain. They paid no attention, says the Lord, and went their ways. Just as today many are being invited to this marriage but do not want to come; and as a result they do not come to Christ and obtain eternal life.
Our God says to us now, all are welcome. Go into the world and call everybody without discrimination. He bids us come to the marriage, believe in Christ, be baptized, hear the gospel, love one another; you are to be the guests of the Lord God, to eat and drink at his table to your heart’s content. You are to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Some people want what God is offering through His Son, yet they do not want to follow God’s commands. Many people wish to make up their own rules and follow their own path. They end up substituting God with material things and human wisdom. They wish to have their own ‘truth’. They wish to put their faith in ‘the science’ and for their moral, or pitiful spiritual life they choose ‘karma’.
On the Last Day, when all the tables are filled, the King will enter the room and look over his guests. At that time, all who are not wearing the wedding garments given by the blood of Christ will be cast out into the eternal darkness. These are the people who use the name Christian and may even listen to the preaching of the Word and partake in the body & blood of Christ but do not believe. When the master of the kingdom asks them why they are there, they will be unable to answer because they have no faith.
Our Lord wants so dearly for us to receive the gospel as our greatest treasure and gladly hear and believe it. By means of the promise, he tugs at our hearts. We bring nothing to the table. It is by grace alone we are saved. Yet we can be obstinate and stubborn. We can refuse to come to the feast that has been prepared for us.
Dr. Martin Luther put it this way in his sermon in 1533:
“Were our Lord God to rain down money, there would be no lack of people whose desire would be to obtain heaven. However, since he promises eternal life and threatens with eternal death, no one wants to pay heed and mend his ways, until too late they realize what they have done.”
The invitation has been sent. Through the water and the Word we have been invited into the kingdom of heaven to forever rejoice in the salvation of Jesus Christ. You have been given the wedding garment by the Holy Spirit in your baptism. It is Christ that now clothes you and it is his blood that cleanses you from all sin.
You have been made heirs to the kingdom of heaven. Through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the debt of your sin has been erased. Through the resurrection of the bridegroom, your life is redeemed. This is the Good News that you have received in your hearing.
You need not be anxious about anything but in everything give thanks. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:7]
 Luther, Martin (1996) Sermons of Martin Luther, Vol. 3. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House Company