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The Marriage-Feast is Ready! Come to the Marriage-Feast!

Matthew 22:1-14

Rev. Andrew Eckert

16th Sunday after Trinity
St. Paul's Lutheran Church  
Wellston, Oklahoma

Sun, Sep 7, 2008
17th Sunday after Pentecost

The Lord our God, the heavenly Father and King, has sent out His servants to proclaim the message: "The marriage-feast is ready!  Come to the marriage-feast!"

You may ask, "Who is getting married?" The groom is the Son of the King.  But who is worthy of marrying the spotless and holy Son of God?  Here on earth, He could not find His equal, a bride fit for Him, as Adam found in the beginning.  Here on earth, He could find nothing but corrupt, shameless, and condemned sinners.  Here, He could find nothing but people faithless toward their Creator.  He could only find those who had fallen under eternal wrath and curse.  For all born of Adam are born under the curse.

If the Son of God was to find a bride worthy of Him, then she must be pure and holy, otherwise there could be no true union.

Therefore, He first showed His love for a people not worthy of His love.  He applied His own purity and holiness to the sins and condemnation of all men, to cleanse and sanctify a bride worthy of Him.

This poor, sinful company of men, who were not worthy to behold God at a distance because of their great filthiness, have been made beautiful and holy and clean.  For Christ gave Himself by His Blood to sanctify her as His bride, washed and cleansed her by the Baptism of water by the Word.  All the filthiness is gone from God's sight, so that the Father is willing to accept this bride for His Son as His own loving daughter.  She is presented to Him without any spot or stain or wrinkle, and more beautiful and glorious than the light and brightness of the sun.

Therefore, how greatly should you cling to Christ as your own bridegroom, who purifies and adorns you as His bride.  Do not be dismayed if you feel entirely unworthy and impure.  It is true: You are indeed unworthy and impure.  But do not fix your thoughts on that.  Have confidence and trust in Christ, and heed His Word that He speaks to you now:

"Although you are full of sin, death and corruption, yet you have here My own righteousness and life that I give to you.  Although you are filthy, I have washed you with water and the Word.  I pronounce you clean, so that you can stand before My Father as the most perfect of all creatures."

This is the love of the Son for you, His bride.

In the parable, the bride and the guests are the same.  Those who are drawn by the invitation of the Father become the bride of His Son.

So I say to you: "The marriage-feast of the Son is ready!  Come to the marriage-feast!"

I do not say, "the marriage feast will be ready soon."  The marriage feast is ready now.  It is here now.  This is the marriage feast, in this house.  This is the beginning of what shall go on for all eternity.

I also do not say, "if we work hard enough, the marriage feast will be ready."  The Father is the one who has prepared it.  He has made all things ready.  He has sacrificed the fatted Calf for the marriage feast, at great price to Himself.  Make no mistake: He spared no expense, but gave His most prized possession, the greatest treasure of His heart, so that you could enter the marriage-feast.

You do not make it ready.  He has made it ready.  It is ready now.

So many ignore the invitation of the precious Gospel.  The world plays its little game, as everybody bustles about with activity.  They have so many things to do that they cannot attend the wedding banquet.  Rich and poor alike make themselves too proud to listen to the invitation of the Father.

Some used to be part of this congregation.  Some have wandered away from the wedding supper.  Fields and business, work and leisure, feelings and family: so many excuses.  How much grief must the messengers of the King endure, when those who are invited ignore the King's feast!  Pride tramples upon the message and the messengers alike.

But if they despise and ridicule God's Word and cause all kinds of heartache to the men who bring the invitation, let them.  Only one thing is important: Here is the wedding banquet of the King and His Son!  Here is the joy of the Father overflowing to His beloved people!  Here is grace untold and unimagined!  Let the whole world fall away and follow its own dreams and works.  You have the Son and His feast.

Even within the congregation of those who gather around His holy banquet, there are some who do not wear a wedding garment.  Such a person is really mocking the Bridegroom as well as His Father, the King.  Everyone knows that at a marriage, a person should dress up out of respect for the Bridegroom and the Bride.  It is a great insult to both if you do not.  If you come to the wedding straight off your job, covered with dirt and sweat and filthy clothes, surely you would feel ashamed of yourself!  If you came into the feast with tattered shorts and torn t-shirt, surely you would hang your head in embarrassment.

Such a person stands out at the wedding like a sore thumb.  We on earth do not have eyes to see it.  But the Father who sees all, He knows.  He recognizes the shabbily-dressed people who have no respect for His wedding-feast.

These poorly-dressed guests are those who are numbered on earth among the Christians, and who hear the Gospel, and who belong to the visible organization of the church.  They sit in the pew, they listen to the sermon, they are Baptized, they receive the Sacrament of the Altar.  Yet they do not truly, in their heart, believe.  They are not really in earnest about it.  They do not really take this marriage feast seriously.

These are make-believe Christians.  They are here in this house for something besides this Gospel.  They are not really concerned about salvation.

They may fool us time and time again, since we cannot see into their hearts.  But the Father knows their heart.

The proper garment is offered freely.  It is the righteousness of Christ that you put on at your Baptism.  But if your heart wanders away from faith, then the garment may be removed and cast aside.

I beg you, do not let this happen to you!  Fix your eyes upon your Bridegroom, who gave His life for you!  Fix your eyes upon His feast of grace that you receive here!  The wonders and glory of the wedding banquet are here!  Receive them with joy and thankfulness and praise.  But do not take them for granted, or simply go through the motions, lest you hear the Father's voice say to you, "How did you get here without a wedding garment?"

Woe to you if you come to think that the things in this house are not so important.  Woe to you if you believe that you can live without them.  Woe to you if your eyes become fixed upon the things of this world, as if they were more important than the King's wedding-feast.

Such people will always be found among Christians.  It is impossible to avoid it from happening.  The Church cannot remove them or recognize them all, but must bear them and suffer their company.  Only when God Himself comes will He separate the weeds from the wheat, and the sheep from the goats.  Only at the Judgment will the false spirits and false hearts be revealed.

The Church cannot remove them, but you can at least avoid being one of them.  Cling to your wedding-garment.  Cling to your Bridegroom.  Of yourself you can do nothing.  Yet the Spirit will give you strength to cling to Him with a strength greater than death.  For you will cling to Him even beyond the grave, into the neverending Day when the Wedding Feast is revealed in all its glory.  No more by faith, but with our fleshly eyes, we will see the dear Bridegroom who gave His life in agony to purchase us, so great is His love.

In His Name alone, with the Father and the Spirit, one God, forever praised.  Amen.

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