Who doesn’t like great food with friends? There’s nothing like the music of a room filled with good conversation, perfumed by the aromas of excellent food. In Jesus’ parable in Matthew 22, a king invites a long list of friends and acquaintances to a banquet celebrating the marriage of his son.
Now we all know there are things that come up in our lives that absolutely prohibit us from accepting such an invitation, but that is not the point of Jesus’ parable. He simply wants us to imagine how a king would feel if all his invitees sent letters of regret or maybe just didn’t show up.
Imagine it. Banquet time and no one is ringing the doorbell. Hors d’oeuvres ready. The finest wine poured. The Greeter stands ready to announce the guests. And the musicians are playing a waltz. But no one arrives.
Jesus told the parable for the benefit of the religious leaders. They already figured that out because they knew they were the stars of the first parable about the Vineyard Owner. And now this parable. If you were standing nearby you would have seen the sweat on their temples and the blood pulsing through their necks. If they could have, they would have killed him on the spot.
This parable is full of Calvary. You can almost hear, “Crucify him, Crucify him,” in the malicious scorn of the first invitees. In the Parable of the Vineyard Owner, Jesus reminded in the telling of the parable, that a Psalmist wrote about the rejection of the stone that became the cornerstone, Psalm 118:22-23.
Matthew concludes the parable with the comment that the religious leaders plotted to entrap Jesus (MAT 22:15) and later that they conspired to arrest him and kill him (MAT 26:1-5). How else do you rid yourself of the One who exposes you. Whose utter truthfulness lays bare all your lies and self-deceits. A hit squad is all you have left if you refuse to admit the truth.
In the parable a father invites friends and family to a grand banquet in honor of his Son’s wedding. Why wouldn’t you want to go? The best food, fine wines, beautiful music, and great companionship. What’s not to like about that, unless……
Going to the banquet means you have to give up whatever prejudices and grievances you’ve carried around all your life. You have to accept that maybe this Son is someone you should have been better acquainted with.
O God of the Banquet. Of the meal to beat all meals. How tempted we are by the distractions around us to skip out, to think we have a better offer, or maybe even to resent the Son a little because he tells us things we don’t want to hear. O God, do not let our consciences grow indifferent to your invitation. Help us to drop everything and come to the banquet. In Jesus’ name. Amen.