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173 - Party hardy? Hardly

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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November 18, 2023 1:00 pm

173 - Party hardy? Hardly

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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November 18, 2023 1:00 pm

Episode 173 - Party hardy? Hardly (18 Nov 2023) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City


You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. So when someone invites you to a party, you say, will there be food? Well, and what if it's someone who's incredibly wealthy and powerful who invites you to a wedding? Well, you say I'll be there. Absolutely. But today in the parable, Jesus is going to tell us, he's going to talk about people who said no. Said no to the party of the century.

Absolutely. Today on More Than Ink. Well, here we are, and we're glad you joined us. I'm Jim. And I'm Dorothy. And this is More Than Ink. You pick up a Bible, you open the page, and what's there is more than just ink on a page. It's God speaking.

It's God speaking to us. And he's speaking to us today in Matthew chapter 22. And so we've come upon one of the, well, pretty well known parables of Jesus about the wedding feast. Well, and it's one of several parables that are grouped together that Jesus appears to have told in very close succession.

And if you remember at the end of last week, we finished with the parable about the cornerstone and about the stone that the builders rejected becoming the chief cornerstone. And at the end of that section in last week's chapter, Matthew says that the chief priests of the Pharisees, when they heard that, they knew he was talking about them. They got it.

They got it. So when he picks up again, Jesus spoke to them in parable saying, so this is kind of one more in the same series. He's talking to and about the religious leaders of Israel. Yeah, the religious leaders, their relationship to God's people, Israel, they're meant to be under shepherds of the great shepherd. And last time in the last parable, we saw that they were failing at that. And so they were being pulled away from that job.

Today is another kind of failing in terms of God's people, but in a really unusual way when you think about it. So we'll use the natural example of a wedding feast. So that's where Jesus goes. Yeah, if you just think about a wedding for a minute, it's a special event. It's long planned. The guests are carefully chosen and there's an expectation that they will come ready to party because they're happy about witnessing this beginning of a new relationship.

Good food, lots of friends, lots of family. It's a good thing. It's a wonderful thing. Well, let's go to this wonderful thing. Chapter 22 of Matthew verse one.

All right. And again, Jesus spoke to them in parables saying, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. And again, oh, you want to stop there? Wait. Who in the world doesn't go to a wedding when they're invited?

That's a good point. And Jesus sets this up as it's a king. A king.

So this is a big affair. We're talking royal weddings. A big important person has invited you to a very special event.

Yeah. The joining of his son to one with whom he will continue the kingdom. And if it was an ordinary non-royal person that was invited, father of the bride, you'd go, but this is the king. Well, and even these days, if you're invited to a wedding, you don't just say, well, you know, I have something else to do. I'm doing my hair that day.

I'm washing my hair. Okay. So I just wanted to stop us there because that right there is the first inkling that something is really upside down.

They would not come. Yeah. Okay.

Well let's find out why. And again, he sent other servants saying, tell those who are invited, see, I've prepared my dinner. Now he tries to tempt them. The oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered.

Everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast. But they paid no attention and went off one to his farm and another to his business while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully and killed them. What? Do we need to stop there and talk about that? Yeah. The stories get even more crazy.

This is a weird story, right? Nobody expects this. Right. You know, and even the king goes to the extent of telling him, look, there's going to be good food and let me tell you what kind of good food.

You can smell it from here. We're talking feasts, man. We're talking feasts. Let's go, no, I want to go to my farm.

I want to go to my business and no, send your guys away. Treat them shamefully and killed them. Well, so of course, I mean such outrageous response from a king to a wonderful, joyous event full of food. So the king was angry.

He was angry and he sent his troops and destroyed those murders and burned their city. Oh my gosh. Well, that's kind of prophetic.

Well, it is. And I mean, we know what this is pointing to, but in just the ordinary story, it is so outrageous. I'm sure that everyone's going, what are you talking about? That is outrageous behavior. Well, if you're just thinking about an ancient kingdom, a group of people in any little city who simply refused to participate in the acknowledgement that the heir to the throne was about to be married.

So this dynasty is going forward. They refuse to come is basically saying, we are not going to, we're not going to submit to this kingdom. Right. It's extraordinarily disrespectful, disrespectful, non-submissive.

I mean, in every single way, this is, this is something that a citizen does not do. And so the king says, well, you can't be them in my kingdom. Right. And wipes them out in the story. And they no longer are in the kingdom.

That's right. If you notice, I mean, they've been wiped out in there and they've been killed and burned their city. That's, I mean, the people are listening now. We're like, whoa, where is this story going?

Okay. So let's pick it up in verse eight. I mean, it's just so outrageous.

It's unbelievable. Then he said to his servants, the king is talking, the wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find. And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. Okay.

Let's stop there. So he goes, well, admittedly, maybe outside the kingdom, normal kingdom. He goes to people on the main roads, people coming and going from other places and invites them to the wedding feast and look at their qualifications, both bad and good. Right. Everybody could come. Every invitation goes out in general.

Right. So it's a broadcast of an invitation. I mean, all the preparations are ready and now the wedding hall is filled with guests. And look how many times just up to this point we've been told it's a wedding feast, wedding feast, wedding feast, wedding feast, half a dozen times just to drive home. The meaning of this gathering is to celebrate the union of the heir to the king with his intended bride. And that's a very important distinction because if this was just a feast, it would be a celebration for something. But here we're talking about honoring not only the king, but honoring the son as the son of the king. That's why you can, it's a really big deal.

And it's a wedding is forward looking. Yeah. Yeah. So it's, it's a really big deal. It's the reputation of the king as well as his son is on the line for those who respond.

And who would not want to go to a royal wedding? All right. Yeah. So you know, you go far and wide, you invite people in and both bad and good. They go, okay, we'll be there. And they show up. Verse 11.

Okay. 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 his 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.

Wait, whoa, what? There's clearly something going on here that we don't understand culturally. Well, I mean, for one thing, it was culturally appropriate for you to come and dress appropriately as a way of honoring the host. You are expected to show up at this kind of an event dressed appropriately. And it's a sign of respect.

Now, if someone instead just came, you know, in their cutoffs and t-shirts and whatever like that and sat down and said, I'm just here for the food. That would be very disrespectful to what's going on in the ceremony and why you're actually being asked. So there is something that we even still relate to today about dressing in a way to respect not only the host of the celebration, but to respect the son as well who's getting married. And it's a sign of willing participation.

I am presenting myself in an appropriate manner. Yep. And we lose something in our present day because anciently, you know, what you wore was an important reflection of who you were. And not only that, but it's also an important reflection of who you respected. So what you wear is a big deal.

It's almost sort of is, but not in the same way. Yeah. But this is a big deal. This is a big deal.

Much, much more. So when he sees people that come in and they had no wedding garment on, he's saying, you haven't come respectfully. Right.

You're here for the food, not for the event. Right. Right. Right.

And that would always be taken as an offense. So it's interesting that Jesus, when he says, and he said to him, friend, how did you get in without a wedding garment? That word friend.

And I think we've mentioned this before. There are a couple of words in the New Testament that are translated as friend. One of them is very common. It's philosophy. And it's the one that means your heart friend, right?

The one that you share things with and who's going the same direction in life you are. This is the other word, hetairos, which is only used a couple of times here. And it's the way Jesus referred to Judas in the garden when he came to betray him.

Friend, do what you've come for. It refers to somebody who's your companion, your comrade, but they may not have the same heart interest that you do. Yeah. I mean, the closest translation I usually use for this is acquaintance.

This is a tiny bit stronger, but not much more. Like, I know who this is. I know who they are. But you know, are you best buddies? Well, no, we're not best buddies. In fact, we probably don't see eye to eye. And they don't necessarily love what I love. Right, right.

Very little in common, but we are acquaintances. So that's that's what this is. So this is a recognition on the part of the king. This guy, this guy is here under other circumstances, right? He wants to be present. He wants to be included in the action. But he's not really there with his heart. He's not there to celebrate what the king is celebrating and what the son is celebrating. He's he's not there for the son. He's there for the feast.

There's another aspect to this too, which is interesting. And it's it's speculated a lot about with commentators, but there there is some evidence of the fact that hosts for weddings would actually provide wedding garments for people in which and if that's the case here, if that's what's actually going on in the background, then for someone to be there without that wedding garment that was provided is another sign of rejection about coming to a feast like this. You're coming to the feast, but I'm not going to wear your wedding garments.

I'm just going to eat. You know, probably a silly example of that would be if you go to somebody's birthday party, they give you a party hat, right? If you refuse to wear the party hat, it says, well, I'm not participating in the celebration. I'm just here for the cake. Cake and ice cream. I'm here for the cake and ice cream.

I don't want to celebrate anybody's birthday. Right. Yeah. So it's Yeah. So if that's the case, it kind of amplifies the problem.

But without question, the issue is they came and their garb is telling them that they are disrespectful of the purpose of the feast. Right. But it's a pretty violent response on the part of the king.

Yeah. I would say, again, it's another really over the top reaction here, which the listeners would listen to this story and say, this is just nutso. This is just way over the top crazy. First you have people who don't want to come to the wedding feast for a king. Who says no to a king for a wedding like that? And now you have them coming in from who knows where off the streets and they're not wearing the right garb. And what does the king do?

Well, he binds them hand and foot and casts them into the outer darkness. And there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. I mean, it's like you don't belong here. You don't belong here. Well, you don't belong here.

And that's a very severe picture of where you do belong. Right. Right. And you can't do anything to help yourself. If you are bound hand and foot, you can't run away. You can't untie your own ropes.

You can't do anything. Yep. And the judgment of the judge is final in this case. It's also, you know, when you see that phrase in the end of 13, weeping and gnashing of teeth. You know, we've been in Matthew for quite some time.

Right. We've seen this before. And this is not a new phrase to us. You know, I went and checked. We saw it back in Chapter 8. We saw it back in Chapter 13.

We'll come up against it again at the end of the book in 24, in Chapter 25. And it's just a profoundly evocative picture of a very unpleasant place to be. In the extreme. In the extreme. And so, and of course, that's applied to those who in judgment end up going to hell. The weeping and gnashing of teeth. It's just a horrible place.

A place of great regret and great frustration. So what do you make of the end that Jesus puts on the story? His final commentary is, in verse 14, for many are called, but few are chosen. Yeah.

Well definitely the many are called. He put out a call. He did. To the entire countryside. Right.

Wasn't even technically his kingdom. It was broad. And many people, both bad and good, showed up. Showed up to the party. But they didn't show up to the party respecting the purpose of the party. And as a result of that, they don't fit in this place.

So who are the chosen ones? They're the ones that accept the invitation and wear the robe to indicate that they belong. And in every, in every sense, respect the host of the celebration and respect the son who's being married.

I mean, they respect the whole purpose of the celebration. So they're full participants. Yeah. Full participants.

Full supporters of this King. In celebration. Yep.

Yep. They're celebrating not just because of the accouterments of the celebration, like food and all that stuff, but they're there because they're there to share the heart of the King and share the heart of the son in what's being celebrated. So you know, it's interesting if we're talking about the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the ruling religious political party. At every event, every part of the temple service, they were there, but it wasn't necessarily God they were celebrating.

It was their own authority. That's the interesting thing. They're there, but they're not really there.

They're not full heart, heart-wise there. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So that describes them perfectly in terms of the first century state of the religious rulers there. You know, they were there and they were there in body, but they weren't really there enthusiastic about the King who is God himself. Indeed, they rejected the King.

Right. Or his son who comes and they're not celebrating him either. So all that disrespectfulness, somehow they think that if I just show up, I get points and God's saying, no, you have to actually be here celebrating for the same reason that God is. So, you know, the Pharisees, the religious leaders might not actually have thought it through that deeply in hearing the story, but they knew he was talking about them because Matthew says then in verse 15, then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. Like, okay, we got to find a way to trip this guy up. Right, right. So again, I think this is really a very obvious public shaming of the religious leadership right here.

I mean, he is condemning and confronting them right there in public. And I don't think they missed the import of this parable. I think they got it.

They totally got it. And, you know, interestingly enough too, when we pull back a little bit, we know that the coming of Jesus as a Messiah, he came to save and he also came to get a bride. We talk about this a lot of times metaphorically, to get a bride. And what Jesus does in getting this bride is in purifying her with his own sacrifice. And you see in some of the apocalyptic literature that what results in that is the bride is then clothed in white.

Right. So there's a sense in which Jesus came to get a bride, which is the believers, those who are like his heart. And he did that by cleansing them himself sacrificially, gave himself for her.

So when you take, when we use that metaphor, which is a really, it's a highly used metaphor, Paul uses it and it's also a revelation. When you link it into this story, it's really quite profound because when Jesus comes to town here in Jerusalem in this Passion Week, he's coming in a way in order to find a bride by his own sacrifice, but those who will believe in him. And do the religious leaders celebrate his coming to find this bride and to equip her to be his bride?

No. Instead they kill him. So they're there, they're just holding their stations, but they're not actually in part of the celebration of the father, the host of the feast, as well as the son who's come to have a wedding. And indeed then you get to Revelation and you have a wedding.

Well that's what I was going to say. If you want to just have another thing to read, the description of the wedding feast of the lamb in Revelation is just so beautiful. It's in chapter 19 of Revelation. But it also is very similar to one that we find in Isaiah 25. Yeah, it's really profound. It's a beautiful picture of this lavish, lavish feast. So Isaiah 25, I'm not going to take time to read it because we still have a little other passage to talk about. But the description of the banquet winds up by saying, he will swallow up death for all time.

Yeah, it's remarkable. The Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. He'll remove the reproach of his people.

The Lord has spoken. That's worth celebrating. That's the feast we're being invited to. Yeah, and it's very good news.

So dress up and go. Yeah, very good news. That's what the gospel means.

It's very good news. That's why the whole story here just seems so preposterous that in the face of such good news and great invitations of the grace and loving kindness of God, that people would so profoundly turn their nose up and say no. No, I'm doing my own thing. Don't have time for your prayer. And in the story, it seems preposterous.

In the reality of mankind. It's even worse. It's happening. It happens. Yeah. Well, we need to move on to the next passage. Oh, we do.

We have one more little thing to talk about. So picking it up in verse 16. And they sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians saying, teacher, we know that you're true and teach the way of God truthfully and you do not care about anyone's opinion for you're not swayed by appearances.

Okay, wait a minute. Who's saying this? This is the Pharisees and their disciples and the Herodians. These people were not friends.

No, no, no. They're classic enemies. Right, because the Herodians were all about enhancing the power and influence of the Herodian family and the Pharisees were all about preserving their Jewish heritage and their Jewish power. Right, right. So but they get into cahoots to take Jesus down. They have a common enemy. Okay, so they come with this wheedling approach.

Well, they're flattering him. Oh, great, wonderful teacher. You're so wise. Verse 17.

Tell us then what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Boy, is that a historically hang up question?

Well, they think it's a lose, lose question. But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax. And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, Whose likeness and inscription is this? And they said, Caesar's. And then he said to them, Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's.

And when they heard it, they marveled, and they left him and went away. You think? In their minds, in their minds, this was an absolute lose, lose question. There's no way Jesus can answer this and not be stuck. You know, I mean, if he says yes, we need to pay taxes to who? Tiberius.

And you know, it was inscribed on the Tiberius denarius coin, it would say Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus. I mean, it was blasphemous. It was blasphemous to carry him around. So if he says we need to pay taxes to say, well, no, I mean, that's immoral. That's immoral.

But then if you say, no, you don't pay taxes, well, then we'll report to the Romans. So either way, he's stuck. He's stuck. And they've got experts in both sides of that argument here posing the question. Exactly. Exactly.

It's fascinating the way he just lifts it completely out of the tax question. Right. And turns it right back on them to say, And whose are you?

Turns it into an important issue. That's right. Whose image and likeness do you bear?

Yeah. Render to God what's his. And that does beg the question. And to God the things that are God's. What am I indebted to to God, right?

Well, life and breath and, I mean, just about everything. Well, and I am created in his own image and likeness. So in a sense, I am stamped just like the coin as belonging to God. I have the image of God on me.

That's right. So, yeah, and I brought this up last time at the end of the last parable is the fact that we all do have a natural expectation that we should be thankful to a God who created this and created this place we're in. I mean, we are indebted to God just in the very simplest ways. And so that's how Jesus very artfully turns this thing so much on his head. And he goes from it looks like a lose-lose painted into corner situation to a situation where they are confronted so powerfully that all they can do is be marveled and turn away. And they got nothing to say. And they got nothing to say.

So that kind of makes me think of the guy back at the wedding feast after the king confronts him and says, how did you get in here without a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Speechless. The implication of that is he had no response. Right, right. There was nothing he could say in response to that in self-defense.

Right. Yeah, the word literally means muzzled. When you put a muzzle on an animal, it's like don't know what to say. I got no defense for how I'm trying to turn this party to my own ends, which actually even connects back into the previous parable about the tenant farmers who decided if they killed the sun and the air, they could seize the property and it could be theirs. It's like, well, no, that doesn't happen. There is no defense for that way of thinking.

Right, right. And we look at these natural stories and say, well, the responses were outrageous. And yet they're exactly what mankind does in relation to God. It's just, it's fascinating. And that's why Jesus tells the parable. You understand the story and you say to yourself, well, that is such an outrageous end to that story, but it's exactly what mankind's doing. That's what's so glorious about the parables is they're such memorable stories, but they usually only have one main point.

They say one thing that then you need to think about and apply. Yeah. Yeah.

Well, gosh, we're almost out of time again. I know. But you know, this last section was, it was a test question. We know this.

It says that. And so they put him into corner. They figured the best way we can take him down during this rise of popularity, during this week in Jerusalem, is to ask him a question that we are more expert in than he is. He won't wiggle out of this one, they're thinking.

And he wiggles out of it. And the Pharisees and the Herodians step aside next time and they'll say, well, you Sadducees, who they're ruling class two. They'll give somebody else a turn. Yeah. But the Sadducees and Pharisees don't see eye to eye theologically. Right.

But they basically tag team wrestle and say, okay, you guys are in. So next week, they're going to come with their pre-thought through best trick question. What is your best trick question you got? The amazing thing is the Sadducees being smart guys next time. The Sadducees have to come up with a question that actually violates their own theology. Knowing that Jesus believes this theology, but they don't. So they're going to rely on the fact that Jesus, well, again, it's like a lose-lose. So read ahead.

Yeah, so read ahead. So we're going to jump in in chapter 22 and verse 23 next time, and we're going to look at the next best argument that the other guys come up with, and they're going to present that to Jesus, trying to trip them up. And they know. They know if Jesus fails to handle these questions well and he's surrounded by these huge throngs of people and he's stymied, he's stymied by the religious leaders, he'll look so bad that people say, well, maybe he's not the guy we thought he was. And that way they can discredit him without having to cause a stir with Rome or without having to cause a stir with the people revolting because they'll understand this guy's not who he claims to be. He's an imposter, they think. And so this is their way, and it's very clever, this is their way to take Jesus down without getting in trouble with Rome or getting in trouble with the people.

They'll do it by embarrassing him with the best questions they can think of. You know, it's really interesting, it just occurs to me while you're talking that we watch this happening in our news and political system all the time. All the time, yeah. Right, interviewers will try to throw their very best stump ya question in order to entrap the person they're trying to expose.

The one running for office or the one holding the office or whatever. So this is a tried and true, very human way of entrapping someone. Yeah, yeah. So we just went past one, paying taxes, which seem like an open and shut, easy pain in the corner.

And everybody's interested in what you're going to say about paying taxes. Yeah, that's right. And yet, Jesus wiggles out and next time he will too. So we want you to come back next time, we'll see this. He doesn't just wiggle, he flattens the argument.

He turns it on top of them and convicts them. So come back with us next time as we look at this gigantic duel of words. I'm Jim. And I'm Dorothy.

And this is More Than Eight. Bye. There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, And while you're there, take a moment to drop us a note.

Remember, the Bible is God's love letter to you. Pick it up and read it for yourself and you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. Okay, close. Let's mess with it a little.

Okay. This has been a production of Main Street Church of rhythm city.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-18 14:31:25 / 2023-11-18 14:43:36 / 12

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