Monday, April 21, 2008

The Greatest Lie Ever Told - Apr 21

If the greatest truths are about God, it stands to reason that the greatest lies we face also concern God.

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

1Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4"Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'

5"But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11"But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.

13"Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

14"For many are invited, but few are chosen."

(Matthew 22:1-14)

Let's see if we can figure out what this parable means.

The King: This one strikes me as obvious. This is God the Father. The son is none other than Jesus Himself.

The Invitees: The high muckity-mucks of this world. The 'beautiful' people if you will. In 21st century terms, they'd be the Hollywood celebrities and the political elite. Sadly, their businesses keep them away from God.

The Servants: This one is the most curious of them all. Three times the King sends forth His servants. These are three seperate and unique groups sent out in chronological order:

Verse 3: Those who served God faithfully prior to His First Advent such as the OT prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Verse 4: God's people, the Jews. Don't you find verse 7 terrifying? Yet that's exactly what happened to Nazi Germany in the waning months of WW II (More specifically, think of the firebombing of Dresden). It was God's plan that it would be the Jewish people who were going to spread the gospel. Satan's great plan therefore is to rid the world of Jews because they delivered the gospel to humanity.

Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed." (Isaiah 61:9)

Verse 8-10: Seeing as European Jewry fared poorly, the third set of servants must be Gentiles. These are your pastors, your Sunday school teachers, and (blush) your faithful Christian bloggers.

The Guests: These lucky guests have chosen to accept Jesus Christ as their saviour. However in verses 11 and 12 the King confronts an usurper. Who is this person who has shown up in his old, shabby clothes?

Many Are Invited But Few Are Chosen

Thus verse 14 closes the parable. But we are still left with the question: What is the greatest lie ever told? It is this: We CANNOT stand before God based on our own righteousness. This is exactly what the usurper finds out when he is dramatically given the heave-ho. On the surface, this seems strange to us. After all, Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax-collectors. Why is our King so enraged at our usurper not wearing the wedding clothes? It is the sin of pride. Not just any kind of pride mind you, it's religious pride.

For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

Not by our own efforts and by our works do we please Him. When we put on the garments of salvation and robes of righteousness it is only then we are allowed to enter into the banquet hall. By believing in the shed blood of Christ alone do we achieve full atonement.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

Johnny Cash

The second part of this post can be found here. Please do give it a read.

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