The Lectionary readings for this week include Exodus 32:1-14 and Matthew 22:1-14. While both texts introduce us to a party that is going on, they are very different parties.
In Exodus Moses is on a business trip to Mt. Sinai. On the mount, God provides instructions of how to set up a dwelling place (tabernacle) for God and how to establish the priesthood. From the people’s perspective, hanging out at the bottom of the mountain, Moses has been gone far too long. As a result, they approach Aaron with a request: “Come, make gods for us…as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” And what does Aaron do? He complies with their wishes.
How could such a thing happen? How could the people of Israel respond to God’s abundant care by turning their backs on all that is holy? It is a good question, but it is not for the people of Israel alone. It is a question for us as well, for aren’t we all guilty of rejecting the goodness of God at some time, in some way?
It is rejection of God that brings us to our New Testament reading from the Gospel of Matthew. The religious leaders have rejected the authority of Jesus. As a result, Jesus offers three parables—the last of which we consider this week. In this one Jesus paints a picture of the kingdom of God. Although many guests have been invited, they discard their invitations without so much as the courtesy of an RSVP. Their actions portray a total lack of respect for the king who wishes to honor his son.
The parable indicates that, ultimately, even the most unlikely of guests will receive an invitation to the Table of Grace; yet who will respond? Who will put on the new wedding garment—the garment of Christ Jesus?
“Putting on Christ” is a picture of discipleship. Dietrich Bonhoeffer may provide us more insight from his work, The Cost of Discipleship::
The way is unutterably hard, and at every moment we are in danger of straying from it. If we regard this way as one we follow in obedience to an external command, if we are afraid of ourselves all the time, it is indeed an impossible way. But if we behold Jesus Christ going on before step by step, if we only look to Him and follow Him, step by step, we shall not go astray. But if we worry about the dangers that beset us, if we gaze at the road instead of at Him who goes before, we are already straying from the path. For He is Himself the way, the narrow way and the strait gate. He, and He alone, is our journey’s end. When we know that, we are able to proceed along the narrow way through the strait gate of the cross, and on to eternal life, and the very narrowness of the road will increase our certainty.
On the journey toward Sunday, consider the following:
1. In what way are the two Scripture passages related?
2. In the parable, who calls or invites?
3. What does this say about God’s grace?
4. Why is the guest who is improperly dressed thrown out of the banquet?
5. What does it mean to be called / chosen?
May the Lord bless your week. I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday.