Can you remember the best birthday party you were ever invited to? At my school, I remember that birthday invites were something of a currency. One of the worst things you could possibly say to someone was ‘you’re not coming to my birthday party’ but they’d always, well almost always, forget they’d said that when their birthday actually came around.
The invitation in the story was from a King putting on a wedding feast for his Son. He sent his servants out to gather the people who were invited – but they weren’t interested. They were distracted and busy. They wanted to tend to their farms and their businesses. They didn’t have time for a party.
But some went further. Some even killed the servants that the King had sent. Understandably, the King was upset and angry and brought judgement upon those who had rejected his invitation and killed his servants.
And so the King extended the invite far and wide, to both the bad and good. He filled the wedding hall up with guests and they enjoyed the extravagance and the abundance of the King’s generosity and hospitality together.
God the Father is inviting people into the great banquet in the Kingdom of God. This parable is one of extraordinary mercy and grace. The most unlikely people are invited in to share in this incredible feast – that’s you and me! We are unworthy and undeserving, we are not part of the original people of God, but because of Jesus, we have been grafted in. Because of Jesus, we can share in the lavish abundance of God’s goodness to us.
But at the end of the parable, it says that someone had snuck in through the back door. Someone was at the wedding feast who was not wearing the proper clothes. And so he was bound and thrown out into the darkness. We too did not have the proper clothes for this extravagant feast. But because of Jesus, we are clothed in His righteousness. Because of Jesus, we are adorned with the finest clothes. Because of Him, we are ready for the greatest wedding banquet there ever will be.
This parable also shows how important it is to go out, and to invite people in. In the story, the servants were sent out to the roads to gather all the people they could find. No one can come to a party they have not been told about. And this is where we come in. We are now God’s people and we have the privilege of sharing this invitation with others.
These are very strange and uncertain times, but they do also present different opportunities to share this extravagant message of God. How could you shine God’s light into the darkness? How could you display the Father’s generosity and hospitality? How could you reach out to your neighbours, colleagues and friends and invite them to the greatest party of all time?
The second passage in our reading today told the story of the Pharisees trying out a clever ploy to trick Jesus. They ask whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. If he says ‘no’ he would have been guilty of treason against Rome, but if he said ‘yes’ he would be accused of disloyalty to the Jewish nation and lose the support of the crowds.
And so Jesus asks them to pass him a coin. He shows them the image of Caesar etched on the coin and says ‘give therefore to the Emperor the things that are the Emperor’s and to God the things that are God’s’ (v. 21).
In those days, Caesar was the ruler of the worldly Kingdom. But there is another, greater Kingdom which comes under the rule of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are part of two Kingdoms. We come under the authority of those leading us on earth: we have to pay our taxes, obey the law or go to school. Whatever it means to be a part of our society today.
But ultimately, God’s image is imprinted on our hearts. We belong to God. And what he requires from us is not taxes or strict law-following, but relationship, devotion and surrender. He wants our hearts.
What does it look like for you to give your heart to God today? Could it look like carving out time to spend in His Word? Or perhaps serving those in your home and helping around the house? Does it look like reaching out to an old friend on the phone? Or maybe just sitting in His presence, worshipping Him for all He has done.
Because of Jesus, we have been welcomed into the most incredible wedding feast of all time. Because of Jesus, we can come dressed in the finest clothes we could never deserve on our own and because of Jesus we have received the abundant riches of God’s generosity and grace. The very least we can give him is our hearts.
Lord God, You are our King. We worship you with all that we are. Thank you that you have made the way so that we could be invited into relationship with you. Lord God, You are our King. All that we have, all that we are belongs to you. Accept this offering of our hearts, we pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.