This week’s devotional prepares readers for the 3/22 sermon, “A King and a Wedding Banquet.” About this text and this parable, David Lose writes this: “Let’s just admit it: this is an ugly parable. No amount of generalizing about God’s hospitality or vulnerability or invitation is going to do away with that.”
Read this week’s devotional guide and jump into this “ugly parable” to discover what Jesus was telling his listeners, then and now.
Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, March 13. Read Matthew 8:5-13. 1) What did the Roman officer do that distinguished him? 2) What did Jesus say to him by way of comparison with Israel? 3) What would the fate be of many who received invitations to the feast of the Kingdom?
Tuesday, March 14. Read Luke 11:37-41. 1) Where was Jesus invited to go in this parable? 2) What did Jesus do when he arrived, and how did it surprise his host? 3) What was Jesus critical of?
Wednesday, March 15. Read Luke 14:15-24. 1) In this feasting story what did invitees do when they got their invitations to a great banquet? 2) What was the master’s response to this?
Thursday, March 16. Read Matthew 23:5-7. 1) For what reason did the religious leaders wear prayer boxes and attend banquets? 2) In what ways do you see similar behaviors in today’s religious culture?
Friday, March 17. Read Matthew 20:1-16. 1) How did a vineyard owner pay his employees in this parable? 2) What was the reaction of the workers hired earliest in the day? 3) In what ways is the invitation to the wedding banquet or great feast similar?
Saturday, March 18. Read Matthew 22:1-14. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
Dear Father, please be with your people as they seek to know you through ancient scriptures and difficult passages. May we, this week, not be like the wedding invitees who refused the invitation of the king. Let our desire to be in your presence and the presence of your Son, Jesus, be so compelling that we welcome the wedding and the celebration above all other desires. In Jesus’ name we pray this. Amen.
Devotional Reading for the Week:
The God Who Loves a Party
by Tim Archer
The apostle John, in his writings about the life of Jesus, presented some interesting insights into Jesus’ life. He wrote about things Jesus did that other writers didn’t comment about.
In the second chapter of the gospel of John, we see Jesus working in two very different settings. In the first story, we see Jesus at a wedding feast. The refreshments run short, and Jesus turns water into wine so that the revelry may continue.
The second story that we see takes place in the temple in Jerusalem. There Jesus disrupts the status quo, driving the merchants out of the temple courts, accusing them of turning God’s house into a market.
We’re not surprised to see a holy man in the temple. We’re a bit surprised to see him at a party.
But that was a mark of Jesus’ ministry. He often ate with people that the religious leaders of his day considered to be sinners. (The same religious leaders, of course, tolerated the merchants in the temple.) Jesus made such a habit of eating with these people that some called him a glutton, a drunkard, and a “friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19).
All through the Bible, God shows that he loves a good party. Much of the worship in the Old Testament involved feasting. When people were especially thankful to God, they showed that by gathering to celebrate with food and drink.
The Bible also describes ungodly parties, feasts full of gluttony, drunkenness, and immorality. These aren’t pleasing to God. His people are told to avoid such events.
But when people come together to enjoy God’s blessings and celebrate God’s goodness, God not only approves; he comes to be a part. It’s common for the Bible to talk about eating, drinking, and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord (see Deuteronomy 14:22-27, for example).
When the prophet Isaiah described God’s Kingdom, he spoke of a great feast prepared by God himself (Isaiah 25:6). The last book of the Bible, Revelation, describes the end as a great triumphal banquet… a wedding party (Revelation 19:7-9).
So one day, there will be a party to end all parties. God’s people will gather from all nations, all languages, and even all times to celebrate the final victory over sin and death.
That’s a party that I want to go to. How about you?
Hymn for the Week:
The Wedding Banquet
A certain man held a feast on his fine estate in town.
He laid a festive table and wore a wedding gown.
He sent invitations to his neighbors far and wide
but when the meal was ready, each of them replied:
I cannot come to the banquet, I cannot come to the banquet,
don’t trouble me now.
I have married a wife; I have bought me a cow.
I have fields and commitments that cost a pretty sum.
Pray, hold me excused, I cannot come.
The master rose up in anger, called his servant by name,
said: “Go into the town, fetch the blind and the lame,
fetch the peasant and the pauper, for this I have willed,
my banquet seem so crowded, and my table must be filled.
When all the poor had assembled, there was still room to spare,
so the master demanded: “Go search every where,
to the highways and the byways and force them to come in.
My table must be filled before the banquet can begin.
Now God has written a lesson for the rest of the mankind;
If we’re slow a responding, he may leave us behind.
He’s preparing a banquet for that great and glorious day
when the Lord and Master calls us, be certain not to say: