WE’RE back to our exciting study of Matthew. We continue our series, The Clash and today we tackle Talk 4: Invited vs. Chosen.
Today, I want to preach the wonderful message, Come to The Feast. At the start of the talk, may I recruit your imagination?
Picture you were a Jew living in Jerusalem, around the year 90 AD, the same time the Gospel of Matthew was written.
Since you were a tiny kid in diapers, the Torah was drilled into your skull; The 613 Laws of Moses were your life and oxygen; They were your breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You ate Kosher food—no pork, no crabs, no shrimp, no tulya, tahong, adidas, bopis, Betamax, IUD… You observed the Sabbath to the letter—you didn’t even light a fire to cook anything on Saturdays.
And then you met Jesus. He revealed the Father to you in such a revolutionary way, you were never the same again. And you followed Him.
But you remained a Jew, still following the 613 Laws of Moses. It was easy because The Feast Light (He-he)— okay, house church—you were attending, out of the 16 members, all were Jews like you.
But one fateful day, strange people started to join: A Greek guy with tattoos and a few earrings, an Ethiopian guy with a funny accent, and a woman who admitted working as a prostitute. They all wear funny clothes, didn’t speak Hebrew, and even smell different.
But they say they believe in Jesus.
Obviously, you get the shock of your life when they don’t know, much less do any of the 613 Laws of Moses. You fall off your chair when you learn they all eat dinuguan, gambas, crispy pata—all unclean food. They don’t know who Abraham is. And they all work on Saturdays. OMG!
You pull the Feast Light Leader to the corner and complain.
“I don’t like those new guys,” you say. “How can they follow Jesus but not Moses? This is wrong. We’re destroying our church!”
But in truth, God was building the Church.
And Matthew’s Gospel was speaking into this divisive situation.
Today, we have the same problems.
When we meet someone with different beliefs and practices, we think we’re better than them. But Jesus is condemning this elitist attitude. God is building a Kingdom that embraces everybody.
And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Jesus is saying:
In God’s Kingdom, He Favors the Underdog
Let’s now dive into our key passage: Matthew 22:1-14…
The first line says:
Because this parable belongs to a set of three parables:
You can call these the “underdog parables” because especially in the first and third parable, there were two groups— a top dog and the underdog—and by some twist, the underdog wins.
Why? God always favors the underdog.
Today, in your situation, do you feel like an underdog? Do you feel like David fighting Goliath? Dear friend, God is fighting beside you. Your victory is coming.
‘Come to The Feast!’
Matthew tells the story: Note: For Matthew, “Heaven” doesn’t mean future paradise, but God’s Kingdom here and now.
Check this out. These guests were already invited—they were just being reminded. But they refused.
What an insult to the King. But do you know what the King did? He invites them again.
In our language, He emailed them a copy of the Menu. With a photo of the Lechon Baka in all its beautiful brown crispy glory, dripping with delicious fat. Yum.
But these guests responded in two ways, representing the two temptations that we experience today.
Here’s the first response:
People ignored the invitation because their other concerns were more important. Not sinful things, but good stuff. Farming is a good thing. Their job is a good thing.
But that’s the point: I urge you: Don’t settle. Aim for the best, and the best is Jesus.
Here’s the second temptation…
You will be horrified by the second response.
OMG! They murdered the messengers.
This is very similar to the previous parable we talked about last week: The tenants killed the messengers of the landowner. This is a picture of how Israel rejected God’s Prophets.
Parables Are Not 1:1 Analogies
Watch what the king did:
Pretty intense. Which makes some Christians uncomfortable because up until now, they saw the King as God.
But here’s a Bible Lesson:
They are familiar stories with one message and the details are not expected to be totally aligned 1:1.
But after this, the King does something surprising…
What? Bad People Are Invited?
What a strange thing to do— invite everyone not on the original guest list.
Don’t you notice? This is the Beatitudes all over again—the nameless, powerless people are VIPs of the Kingdom.
Not only that, but the parable includes something disturbing to our religious expectations.
Jesus said The good and bad alike are both invited to The Feast.
Huh? Here we are, trying to be good boys and girls so that we can enter Heaven, and then bad boys and girls are welcome too? Unfair!
But that’s the kind of Kingdom Jesus was building.
The Rise of the Underdogs
Tax collectors and prostitutes were now welcome.
Because God is the God of second chances.
His Mercy is bigger than our mistakes.
This is the heart of God. His heart is always saying, “Come to The Feast.” And The Feast is a symbol of God’s abundance.
In the entire Old Testament, God chooses Israel—the greatest underdog. For 400+ years, they were slaves in Egypt. And for centuries after that, they were a tiny nation in the middle of giant kingdoms and conquering empires.
And yet God made a covenant with this tiny underdog, Israel, to be His people and He Their God. Do you know what that covenant looked like? Marriage. God married Israel. Remember, this Feast is a wedding Feast.
Alas, something went awry…
The Underdog Became Unfaithful
Israel acted just like her neighbors—they neglected the poor, the broken, and the outcasts. Ultimately, they rejected Yahweh and worshipped other gods.
Here’s the key problem: They took for granted God’s Love.
It’s true that God will always forgive us. But the question is, “Are we sure that we will always say yes to that forgiveness?”
In this transaction, God is not the problem. We are.
God will always love us. But we have the power to reject that love.
This was the message of the prophets in the Old Testament.
And this was the message of Jesus in this parable:
We take God’s Love for granted.
Which is the central point of the ending of this parable…
The Shocking Twist in the Story
The story could have ended here, but it did not.
Something unexpected happens.
This guy shows up at the party not wearing the right clothes.
And he gets kicked out…
Don’t Take God’s Love for Granted
Please know that the king wasn’t expecting people to show up in black tuxedos and shimmering gowns. He just wanted people to be decent. And the decent clothes symbolize our humble “yes” to God’s Love.
Jesus does not bring in a tax collector into the Kingdom to remain a tax collector.
The tax collector who walks into The Feast—dressed in the right clothes— means he’s praying, “Lord, I want to change but I can’t do it on my own. That’s why I’m here at your party of abundance. Because there’s an abundance of mercy here…”
I love preaching how God’s Love is unconditional. But if we’re going to be strict with words and definitions, God’s love is not so much unconditional as it is unconditioned. Here’s the difference: Unconditioned means Unmerited and Undeserved—while Unconditional means Non-Reciprocal.
You cannot earn God’s Love. It’s given for free. But His Love demands a response: Will you accept His love?
The entire New Testament says this point:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him…” (John 3:16 NKJV)
The word “believe” is not mental assent, but a trusting relationship.
Don’t take God’s love for granted. Allow His Love to change you.
Jesus Is Committed to You
Here’s a crucial Bible Lesson: All parables are about Jesus.
Recall how this parable started by saying, “a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son.” (v.2)
In the same way that God married Israel, Jesus is “marrying” His Church– His broken, wounded, sinful people.
That’s why Paul said, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…(Ephesians 5:25 ESV)
Jesus is committed to you. He believes in you. He trusts you!
Jesus, the Groom, the most important Man in the Party, becomes the Servant at The Feast. A Servant who, ironically, is killed by people who think they deserved God’s Love because they were so holy.
A few days after telling this parable, Jesus stepped into His Cross, feet, and hands bound, and left to die. But it didn’t end there. Three days later, He rose from the dead so that He can welcome you at The Feast.
Friend, do you feel unworthy to join this party of love?
Through the Cross, Jesus has already made you worthy.
Come to The Feast.
Let us pray:
Lord, here, by Your Presence, we come in full humility. We strip ourselves, Lord, from anything that might prevent us from seeing You. We strip ourselves from our self-made crowning, from our pride, our ego, and our arrogance, things that we put in ourselves that we think will glorify us. We want to see You, Jesus. Come into our life. Thank You, God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.