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718. An Invitation to Joy

Is the greatest invitation ever awaiting your response?

IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING

In Matthew 22: 1-10 we find Jesus telling a parable of a king who was arranging a wedding for his son. When he sent his servantsinvitation to wedding feast to summons those who had been invited, most of the would-be guests were too busy with their worldly affairs to attend the sumptuous meal and the joyous festivities of the wedding. Others attacked and killed the servants. The king was so furious that he sent his armies to destroy these murderers and to set fire to their city. Then the king told his servants that all the wedding preparations were ready, and those who had been invited didn’t deserve to come. So he sent his servants to the highways to invite everyone they could find, no matter how good or bad they were. As a result, the wedding was supplied with guests.

Jesus’ story was very real to his audience. In their day, when invitations to a great feast, like a wedding feast, were sent out, the date and time were not stated. When all the preparations were ready, the servants were sent out to announce that the time had come. In His parable, the invited guests refused to come and went so far as to kill the servants. The king responded with great wrath.

Jesus was addressing Jews and His message applied directly to them. Long ago, they had been invited by God to be His chosenDestruction of Jerusalem people, but when God sent His Son into the world, they refused His invitation to follow Him. They had killed God’s previous messengers, the prophets, and they called for His Son to be crucified. In 70 AD God used the Roman army to destroy Jerusalem, setting it on fire just as Jesus had predicted. Complete disaster had indeed come to those who refused to recognize and accept God’s Son when He came.

AS I SEE IT

wedding joyLet’s fast forward to today. What is God’s message to us from this parable? What could an invitation to a wedding feast have to do with us? Actually, a lot, and it’s all about joy. The wedding feast in Jesus’ day was a tremendously joyful event and it went on for days. It was a celebration where all the cares and worries of the day were forgotten.

The Bible speaks of the greatest of all wedding feasts that will take place in heaven. It is called themarriage supper of the lamb Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19). It will be the celebration of the marriage between Christ and His bride, the Church, made up believers from all over the world-all those who have believed in God’s Son. These are the ones in the last part of Jesus’ parable-those who were not originally invited (the Jews), but were eventually invited purely out of God’s grace-the good and the bad-those whom the servants found along the highways-ordinary people who would respond to God’s call to come to His feast-those who would respond to God’s invitation-none of whom deserved to be there, but were invited only because of God’s compassion, His love, and His grace.

Let’s get down to the heart of the issue. What is His invitation really all about for us today? It is an invitation to enter into His joy. The Kingdom of Heaven, which was the real topic of Jesus’ parable, is a kingdom of joy and it isn’t just for heaven. It is for right now! The joy of the wedding feast pictured the joy God was offering to those who would receive His Son as their Lord and Savior. Not a joy that promises to remove all pain and suffering, but a sustaining joy that transcends any trial that we may encounter-a joy that produces hope in the darkest of times, and a joy that elevates the believer into the Joy of Christ Himself as He said in John 15:11:

joy 1“These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and that My joy may be made full.”

More than anything else, it is this joy that one will miss if he refuses God’s invitation to receive His Son. What then, could cause anyone to refuse such an invitation? Well, why did those in Jesus’ parable refuse the king’s invitation? What were their excuses? They were too busy with their farms and their businesses-not bad things in themselves, but stumbling blocks if we allow the good to take precedence over the best. We can be so busy making a living that we fail to make a life. We can be so busy with the details of life that we miss life itself and the joy God has for us.

Fortunately for us, the invitation is still being offered. Will you accept God’s invitation to enter His Kingdom by receiving His Son? Will you accept His offer of joy beyond measure? Some day it will be too late.

 


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