I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1

Prepare for the Feast; You are clothed in the Wedding Garment

Second Sunday after Michaelmas – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Matthew 22:1-14 “Prepare for the Feast; You are clothed in the Wedding Garment”
October 8, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church

In Nomine Iesu
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Lord God, heavenly Father: We thank You, that of Your great mercy You have called us by Your holy Word to the blessed marriage feast of Your Son, and through Him forgive us all our sins; but, being daily assaulted by temptation, offense, and danger, and being weak in ourselves and given to sin, we beseech You graciously to protect us by Your Holy Spirit, that we might not fall into sin; and if we fall and defile our wedding garment, with which Your Son has clothed us, graciously help us again and lead us to repentance, that we fall not forever; preserve in us a constant faith in Your grace; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, by Veit Dietrich, p. 163)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)

The sermon text for today is taken from the 22nd chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:

“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. “Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)

In Christ Jesus, who clothes you with His Righteousness, the wedding garment that marks you as one who can partake in the marriage feast of the Lamb, dear fellow redeemed:

“You are invited!” These words are recorded on invitations that are sent out every year. You can be invited to a variety of events. The summer time is when most of us get invites to weddings. Like in our text, Jesus is inviting us to a wedding as well. You hear the invite in the parable. “Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ “Come to the wedding feast.” This is what God is providing for us. Jesus is using this parable to teach the Kingdom of Heaven. As you hear this text, it is evident, that God wants you there. It is a gift for you to go there. As you are attacked daily by temptation and sin, you can rest assured that your repentance is acknowledged by God through Christ. You can prepare the feast; you are clothed in the wedding garment.

As you prepare for this feast, Jesus is trying to prepare the people of His day. The problem is that Jesus’ own people do not want to believe Him. They have rejected Him. As Jesus is getting ready to die, He tells the Pharisees, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:43). Jesus is making it clear that He has come for all. He first came for the Jews, but His message is for the Gentiles as well. Jesus stresses in this parable who the Kingdom of Heaven is for and why. “But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.”

This seems harsh, but is that not what has happened in the history of Israel? All we have to do is review the Old Testament. From the moment the Israelites were rescued out of Egypt, God called them a “stiff necked people.” They grumbled against Moses and Aaron. God would send prophets to reform. The people would not listen and they killed them. Our text is during Holy Week, and we know what is going to happen to Jesus. This parable is looking at future events. Who else do they kill? After Jesus, they begin to go after the apostles. As some headed off and some killed the servants, Jesus lets them know again, what is going to happen to them. Rome is going to come to this city in 70 AD and the city of Jerusalem is going to be destroyed. Jesus’ message is on the Kingdom of Heaven, and His own people wanted nothing to do with it.

We can be quick to hear Jesus going after His enemies but we need to make sure that we aren’t propping up ourselves. Are we Jesus’ allies? God’s army is ready for war. He goes after His enemies. God’s law says that we are His enemies. “The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.” We are invited to the wedding feast, but when we sin, we are not worthy. There is no way that we can excuse our actions to try and sneak into the wedding. God is not going to allow us to “crash it.” We are not worthy of the invite.

Not only are we not worthy of the invite to the wedding, Christ at the end of the parable has a warning about how we can reject it. “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. In the culture that Jesus is living, when you went to a wedding, you were given the clothing that you were going to wear. You couldn’t just wear street clothes. It is the host of the wedding who gives you the proper clothes. Jesus teaches how easy it is for you to decide that the wedding clothes are not for you. your sins are hard to shake and sometimes they want you to continue to wear those dirty street clothes. Discarding the garments that are freely given, many times we think that those street clothes are good enough. Jesus says we need them. When we discard the wedding garment, we reject our invite to the feast.

As Jesus teaches in the parable what the end looks like for those who ultimately reject the wedding garment, this does not mean that all is lost. Jesus wants the people that He is teaching to prepare for this glorious feast. This is His wedding. The people are His guests and the church is His bride. In the Old Testament, we see the prophets prophesying about the one who was to come. It is Jesus who comes, clothing those who believe in Him with the wedding garment. God is giving this feast and everyone is invited. This parable is teaching the people that Jesus is the bridegroom. Our text is during Holy Week. Jesus is once again teaching the people and His disciples that He will give up His life. That He will suffer and die for all people.

As Jesus prepares for His death, He wants His disciples to prepare for the feast. Jesus is about to show them how they are clothed. He willingly goes on during Holy Week. He dies, shedding His blood on the cross, covering the sins of the world. The disciples are clothed in His righteousness; they wear the white wedding garments. The marriage feast is for those before Jesus, for those who lived and heard the news of the kingdom of God, and the marriage feast is prepared for you.

God has prepared this marriage feast with you in mind. If He didn’t have you in mind, then God would, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” There would be no ifs, ands, or buts’. The punishment is severe for everyone. This parable teaches you of God’s mercy. The King has a wedding feast for His Son and Jesus, the bridegroom, gives you the gift of the wedding garment because you can’t live out your life perfectly. You can’t accept the invite. Your Savior lived His earthly life perfectly and He clothes you with it. You wear His Righteousness as He hung on the cross for you.

Not only does Jesus die on the cross, suffering death, He rose from the dead destroying death. He perseveres, following God’s plan of salvation perfectly. Christ death and resurrection is comfort for you. Life is hard, but you see how you will persevere. Jesus has done it for you, He suffered for you, and you can prepare for feast as He has clothed you. As St. Paul says, we can rejoice, “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-21). Your King is gracious, sending His Son to give you the gift of his Righteousness that you might persevere.

The world is quick to say that the feast has not been prepared for them. They want to say that they did not get the invitation. We know that Jesus through His entire ministry proclaims the Kingdom of Heaven to all. The prophet Isaiah explains well what is happening in the world. [Thus says the LORD:] “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by My name. I spread out My hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices” (Isaiah 65:1-2). The invite is there, and so is rejection of it. The servants are going out and inviting everyone and Jesus has a wedding garment for everyone because it is His Righteousness.

The prophet Isaiah continues to bring you proof of Jesus and His Righteousness. He prophesied about the One who was to come. He says, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10). Here is a description of the parable that Jesus is telling. So when you once again are tempted into rejecting the invite. In your confession you see that you can persevere, your bridegroom comes to you with the wedding garment.

The invitation comes to you. As you confess your sins, you realize that you will reject it. God gives you the invite that you don’t deserve. His Son clothes you with His blood, the wedding garment for the feast. This is a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven and Jesus allows the apostle John to see it. He writes, “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;… And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God” (Revelation 19:6-7,9). Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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