First Sunday in Lent
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’ But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. They he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. (Matthew 22:1-10)
We misuse parables when we think we can “fit” them into our experience in every point and aspect. For example, this parable, as with all parables, is meant to communicate a particular message. It is not intended to suggest that God, like the king in the parable, “send his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” Those are details of the parable intended to make the story real to its hearers. It is not intended to say that is what God is like.
The message of the parable, however, is clear: God extended an invitation to the Jewish people to come share in the marriage feast of His Son, Jesus. Many in Israel, especially many religious leaders, rejected the invitation and would not come. God also, then extended his invitation to all—both good and bad, Jews and Gentiles! While not quoted above, the parable goes on to proclaim that guests enter the marriage feast by putting on a wedding garment—in other words, we enter only by being clothed in our baptismal garment—being clothed in Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
The parable does, however, present some details that are all too relevant to our human experience and real life today. Every week, we are called to come share in the marriage feast of the Son of God, as the Lord’s Supper is the foretaste of the feast to come. Every week, all sinners are invited, but many will not come. Many “make light of it” and go off, “one to his farm, another to his business.” We can blame our culture and the demands and temptations which are barriers to our regular participation in worship, but the gracious, loving invitation stands and it is for us to respond and come, as the Lord has made all things ready and is present to host the meal! Many consider Lent a heavy, dark, burdensome season. Perhaps we can give thanks and rejoice that Lent allows us to hear again the invitation and joyfully respond with our presence at the marriage feast!
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the invitation to the marriage feast—and for clothing us in the righteousness of Christ, our proper wedding garment! Amen.
Lenten Response: Make the Lord’s Supper a priority in your life each week!
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Additional Daily Readings: Genesis 35:1–15; Psalm 45; Matthew 21:45–22:14
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2CMv4Lp
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.