Reading: Matthew 22: 1-14
Verse Nine: Go to the streets and invite to the banquet anyone you find.
Today’s parable is symbolic of God’s continuing invitation to all of humanity to come into the kingdom of God. The original invitation began with God’s chosen people, but most rejected the invite – they did not see Jesus as the Messiah. Still God invited them. They abused and killed many who God sent to invite them – even killing the Son. So God sent others out, saying, “Go to the streets and invite to the banquet anyone you find”. In the Good News translation the Great Commission from Matthew 28 reads, “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere”, mirroring the invitation to all. In God’s great patience, He will continue and continue to invite all into the kingdom. Today, tomorrow, and on into the future God will continue to send out invitations to all who are lost.
The parable goes on to say that the good and the bad respond to the invitation, filling the banquet hall. There are some who hear the invitation and come to see what it is all about. Some come because a friend or family member received the invitation and they are going. They come and they sit in the pew. But they do not take the next step. They do not become a part of the kingdom. In the parable, the king comes to look over the guests. He notices a man not wearing the right clothes. The man did not fully accept the invitation. He came to the banquet, but on his terms. He remains stubbornly silent. He is cast out into darkness.
This same idea occurs elsewhere in scripture. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, for example, the goats are left wondering why they are cast out. They knew who Jesus was and even did a few things He asked, but they did not choose to enter a saving personal relationship that changed their lives. Today, many know who Jesus is, but they cling to their old self. They appear to be at the banquet, but inside they are the ones in control, not Jesus.
To be a follower requires that we put off the old self and take on the new robe of righteousness. We must not only accept the invitation, but we must allow it to reshaped us into the image of Christ. We must die to self so that Christ can rule on the throne of our hearts. Yet even then God continues to send us invitations. He invites us to go out and live our lives as the salt and light the world so desperately needs. He invites us to go out to the street corners and to invite everyone we see, helping them into the kingdom. How will we do this today?