Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This morning, we hear a violent story from Matthew. A king is trying to get people to his son’s wedding banquet; and when they refuse, he pretty much kills everyone. When we read this parable, it is easy to turn it into an allegory for God’s relationship with God’s people. We can even assign parts for each character in the story, BUT right away, if we see the King in the story as God. We are all in big trouble, because this king is vengeful and violent when disobeyed. That is not the kind of God we believe in. The God we believe in is Love. Not loving, but love itself. So, let’s put away trying to make this story about who God is.
But then what is this weird story about? And why did Jesus even tell it? Maybe the stories are about who WE are. We need to remember this is the third parable Jesus tells in answer to the question of the religious authorities. Jesus was teaching in the temple, and they asked him, “Who gave you the right to teach here?” The leaders wanted to control any teaching that went on in the temple, and Jesus was stepping their toes. Of course, Jesus does not answer their question.
What he does do is tell them a story – actually, several stories. In the past few weeks, we have heard…
…A story about two sons. One says “yes” to his father’s request to go work, but doesn’t go. And one, who says “no,” but actually does do what he is asked to do.
…A story about tenant farmers, who kill the landowner’s servants when they try to collect the harvest of the vineyard, which ends very badly.
…And the one we have today, about a vengeful king who becomes violent when the rich and famous of the kingdom refuse to come to the party for his son.
I think Jesus might be saying that the leaders talk a lot about what God wants the people to do, but refuse to act as they say others should.
So, what does this have to do with us? Well, remember in the last parable that man who was invited to the party but refused to wear the right robe? Maybe Jesus is talking about how what we say we are about as Christians doesn’t always reflect our actions. We come here each week; we profess that we are followers of God and disciples of Jesus. But when we leave this place, we don’t always act out what we say we believe. You may have heard me say this before: sitting in a church does not make us Christians any more than sitting in a garage makes us a car.
God loves all creation and God will not give up on us. Unlike the king in the story, God will continue to reach out to us, inviting us to relationship. God wants a relationship with us. Throughout the Bible, we see God reaching out - beginning with the first people. When Adam and Eve broke their promise, God did NOT smite them and start over. God reached out in love. And as we continue through all the stories in the books of the Bible, we see God reaching out to God’s people. God is reaching out always, calling us back to the party, welcoming us home. Amen.