Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus has entered Jerusalem with hails of Hallelujah! Blessed is the One who come in the name of the Lord! Yet he is standing before the religious leaders entreating them to understand they are not entering into God’s banquet. These scribes and Pharisees are getting the fear of God put into them by this very unafraid rabbi who escapes them at every turn by his wit, by his wisdom, by his proclamation he is the Son of Man: the eschatological presence of the one sent by God to bring justice on the earth. Yet if the host of the banquet is God that host goes to great lengths to bring in any who will feast at the table. If the slaves are the prophets like the slaves from last week’s parable of the vineyard, they too have been thrown out of the city mistreated and finally killed. And the banquet awaits its guests. So they come from far and wide yet are to wear the wedding garment. This is 1st century Palestine protocol for attending a feast to which one is invited. Wear the proper garment to be treated like the proper guest. And the proper garment to Jesus is a life that has been transformed.
When we read these passages from Paul and from Matthew we are invited to find the joy even when we find life difficult and disheartening. We are not facing execution nor crucifixion; we are facing a world filled with doubt and fear, a world that lauds the liar and the cheat a world that exalts the predator and the selfish. But at the heart of these lessons is the very profound message we must accept God’s invitation to the banquet, to the life of ministry, to a way of living that is completely counter-culture. If we do not we will find ourselves as post-modern Christians missing out on the feasting and only getting the crumbs. And I would say that is not what we came to receive! Our lives must be transformed, our hearts must be filled with out-of-this-world joy if we are to find not only peace but tranquility of spirit and ultimately God.