[Matthew 22:1-14] And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
The Feast Is Ready. Time to Come
Parents have a lot to pay for – and the price of it is going up. Young people have a lot to achieve, to accomplish – goal posts to reach – and the expectations keep rising. Yet there are other things to which we feel we have a right without achieving – no one dare deny it to us.
Achieved, earned, accomplished. Paid for. Or owed to me; it’s my right. The king in our Lord’s parable today gives a feast, a banquet, to which none of these parameters apply – a wedding feast.
A wedding invitation is not earned or achieved or paid for. You don’t pay a ticket price or get a bill for the food. Someone else has paid – you’re invited. Yet, you’re not entitled to the invitation – it’s up to the groom and bride – or, in this case, a king.
You’re invited. The feast is free. Yet there are preparations. You dress for the event. You conduct yourself with the right respect and reverence for the event. You’re invited. You are technically free to attend or not attend. Yet not attending can cause offense.
In our Lord’s parable, there were those who did not attend. The king prepared the feast. He paid the price. He invited His dearest ones. “Everything is ready! Come to the wedding feast.” “But they paid no attention.” One went off to his farm. Another went off to his business.
They engaged in those things which were their own – their own achievements, their own goal posts. And perhaps they felt entitled to the time, to do with it what they chose. In Luke’s Gospel it says it this way: “They all alike began to make excuses” [Luke 14:18]. And others even mistreated the king’s servants. They all alike neglected what the king had prepared for them. They’ve despised or neglected God’s grace, we would say.
The king, who is God in our Lord’s parable, is angry with those who don’t come to His feast – “The king was angry”, it says – the Greek word means He had wrath – He then destroys those who neglected His free gift with sword and fire.
Achieved, entitled. Are we here on this Confirmation Sunday to talk about what has been achieved, accomplished – what goal post has been met? Or, are we here to talk about something we’re entitled to? Neither. We are here, rather, to acknowledge that the preparations have been made for these young Christians to receive this particular feast to which their King has invited them – this Sacrament of our Lord – a feast which is free gift and grace.
Each Sunday, we come here not for something we’re entitled to, and not for something we’ve achieved. We’re here for a gift that our King and Lord has prepared for us. And He, our Lord Himself, dresses and prepares us to receive it. He dresses us in our Baptism, and He prepares us by instructing us in His Word [Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 3:16].
God your king has prepared a wedding feast for you. Heaven is this feast. Heaven is the ongoing wedding banquet, the wedding celebration of that union of Jesus with His baptized people, His Bride, His Church [Ephesians 5:25-26].
God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has provided that feast. When Jesus died as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world, when He became the sacrifice which has washed away sins, He created this marriage bond between you and Him. You were a stranger. He forgave your sin by His blood and made you His.
The feast of Heaven is the forever-celebration, not of what you’ve achieved or paid for, but of what Jesus has done for you. His Gospel proclamation goes out into the world to inform all that this salvation has been prepared, that all is ready, and that you are invited.
And God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, dresses you for that heavenly banquet. You can’t enter it in your sins. And you can’t enter it by your effort. You are dressed by your Baptism. In Baptism, you were dressed in the robe of Christ’s righteousness which covers all your sins. Dressed for the occasion, you enter.
That celebration-feast of heaven for which we wait already belongs to you in full now. Even the littlest infant who has been baptized already possesses heaven’s whole feast and has all its benefits of life and salvation. It’s already been yours in full, yet it’s to come.
In the Lord’s Supper, in this true body and blood of Jesus, you receive an earth-side foretaste – a taste-ahead-of-time – of heaven’s feast for which you wait. And, the Lord’s Supper, according to our Lord’s words, is a remembrance – a true and present remembrance, reminder-for-your-faith, of what Jesus has done for you – that His body is crucified for you, that His blood is shed for you. In receiving and believing, you enjoy the forgiveness of sins.
Baptism dressed you for heaven’s banquet. Instruction in God’s Word prepares you to wear that baptism-garment to this earth-side taste of the feast.
Scripture teaches us that we must examine ourselves – and therefore must be equipped and able to examine ourselves – before partaking of this Lord’s Supper [1 Corinthians 11:27-29]. We come repenting, pushing away from our sins, and trusting alone in God’s grace. We must examine ourselves with God’s commandments so we know where we need to repent.
Scripture teaches us that we must discern – and therefore be able to discern – what this Supper is and believe it – that it really is the body and blood of Jesus. Because it is Jesus’ body and blood, it delivers the benefits of Christ’s body and blood. But, because it is His body and blood, we can be guilty of sinning against His body and blood in this meal.
Scripture teaches us that we’re to be of one mind, gathered together truly as one loaf, united in one faith – believing and teaching and confessing the same confession. Not a body divided by contrary beliefs nor by a refusal to forgive one another.
Clearly, so that we don’t sin against this Supper but instead receive it to our benefit, instruction and preparation is necessary, young or old. And I’m not talking about Confirmation Sunday but every Sunday. What we do one time in confirmation is what we each must be doing every time we come to this Supper. Come in repentance; come believing what it is; come clinging to God’s grace; come forsaking your own way.
In our Lord’s parable, there was a man who came and ate the feast without wearing the wedding garment. These are those who come believing they are worthy in themselves, that they need no repentance or weekly instruction or forgiveness of sins – they believe they simply have a right to it.
But here, brothers and sisters, is a wedding feast – an invitation that is not our right, yet is not achieved or bought. It’s a gift and invitation to receive something that your King has prepared for you. Food and drink “without money and without price” [Isaiah 55:1]. Your food given “in due season” [Psalm 145:15].
The Lord has dressed you. The Lord prepares you. Do not neglect His grace, today or any week. Repent, believe, and receive. His feast is ready, and it’s time to come. Amen.