The Great Wedding Feast

Scripture: Luke 14:15-24, Matthew 22:1-14
Date: 10/19/2002 
Jesus illustrates the essence of the gospel in parables of weddings. The stories teaches us the gospel in stories. The church is the bride of Christ. The parable speaks of an abundance of food which represents the word of God.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

This morning I would like to do a Bible study with you from the word of God and I’ll be commingling a couple of different parables that Jesus tells that have similar themes. As we look at them together I think that there’s a lot of very valuable lessons. The message this morning is “The Great Wedding Feast” and it’s based on two passages of scripture. My primary scripture is going to be in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 14. If you have your Bibles I’d invite you to turn there. Luke 14 and the parable begins with verse 16. Oh, I better read verse fifteen also. “Now when one of those who sat at the table with him heard these things he said to him,” saying to Jesus, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” One of the guests of this dinner was saying something pious, a platitude. And Jesus said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many and he sent his servant at suppertime to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I’ve bought a piece of ground and I must go and see it. I ask you have me excused.’

Another said, ‘I’ve bought five yoke of oxen and I’m going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I’ve married a wife and therefore I cannot come.’ So his servant came and reported these things to his master and the master of the house being angry said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and the lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and the maimed, the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and the hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled. For I say unto you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’” Ok, before I comment on that take your Bibles please and go to the book of Matthew chapter twenty-two, and I may not read all of this to you but beginning with verse one. It says, Matthew twenty-two, “And Jesus again spoke to them again by parable saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son and he sent his servants out to call those who were invited to the wedding and they were not willing to come.

Again he sent out other servants saying, “Tell those who were invited, ‘See? I have prepared my dinner. My oxen and fatted cattle are killed and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.’” But they made light of it and they went their way one to his own farm, another to his business. The rest seized his servants and treated them spitefully and killed them. But when the king heard about it he was furious and he sent out his armies and destroyed those murderers and he burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore, go into the highways and as many as you find invite to the wedding.” So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom found both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests but when the king came to see the guests he saw there a man who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, “Friend, how did come in here without a wedding garment?” and he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, cast him into outer darkness and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth for many are called but few are chosen.”’ Now these are just a couple of the many parables that Jesus uses to illustrate the essence of the gospel in the context of a marriage.

Now I don’t know how you feel but I don’t always get thrilled when Karen gets a wedding invitation so maybe I’m not the one that’s most qualified to talk about this subject because in the Bible going to a wedding was to be something you were excited about, it was to be joyful. For me it means she’s got to go find a gift and there goes another Sunday afternoon. Any other men with me out there? Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Ok. But you want to endorse, you want to support, you want to encourage a wedding. Now of course my attitude would be very different about the wedding of one of my children. Am I right? If it’s one of your children, uh, uh… But if it’s my child you better be there. I want the whole world there. And so this marriage is of course the story of the marriage of the king’s son. This is the story of Salvation. That’s why I had Annette read for the scripture reading from Revelation where it talks about the wedding supper of the lamb.

The church is the bride and the Lord uses this language all through the gospel. Let me give you a few samplings the New and Old Testament. If you have your Bibles you may want to turn quickly or get a pencil and jot some of these references down. Isaiah 65:5, “For as a young man marries a virgin so your sons marry you and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride so shall your god rejoice over you.” So in the Bible this marriage is a joyful time. Hosea 2:19 & 20, “I will betroth you to me forever. Yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice in loving kindness and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness and you will know the Lord.” God says he wants to be married to us. Matthew 9:15, speaking about John the Baptist, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them and then they’ll fast.” This happened after some of the disciples of John the Baptist asked why Jesus’ disciples weren’t fasting. And he said he’s the friend of the bridegroom. He’s the best man, but the bridegroom is here. Why would you fast? The wedding is a time for rejoicing. And so again they’re using that language. Matthew 25:1, you know this. “Then the kingdom of heaven is likened unto ten virgins that took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”

Another parable, the gospel in the context of a wedding. II Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy for I have betrothed you to one husband that I might present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” If you are a Christian you are engaged to Jesus. You are his property. We want to be at that wedding. Revelation 19:9, “Then he said, ‘Right blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the lamb.’” Revelation 21:2, “I John saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for the bridegroom.” So this is the language, this is the context that is used in so many of the Bible stories. This king makes this great wedding feast. One more thing, if you go back to Luke, just to illustrate it with one more parable, if you are in the same chapter of Luke 14:8 before he gets to our parable, “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast” and then he goes on to say don’t seek out the best seats. So even this parable is given after Jesus uses another parable about a wedding feast. Now do you have the picture, the context of how God compares the Gospel to the wedding feast? First of all, what is the food at the feast? It’s the Word of God. You’ll find out that in this parable there is an abundance of food, but they’re having a hard time finding people to eat the food.

You know the Lord says, “The harvest is great but the laborers are few.” There’s plenty of wheat, but you don’t have enough people to gather the wheat and you don’t have enough people to eat the wheat. It’s the opposite of the famine. It’s an indifference. There is a famine for the Word of God today, but it’s not because there isn’t an abundance. Well, let’s look at our story quickly and discover a few things that happen as soon as this wedding feast takes place. First of all, when the individuals are invited to the feast he says, “Come.” Notice how you’ve got this emphases in the story. First he says, “Come for all things are now ready.” The Lord says, “Come now for everything is prepared.” Has the Lord made a complete preparation for you and me to be at that feast? You’ve received an invitation. In the bible you have a very beautiful wedding invitation. I know that Bonnie has done some wedding coordinating and Karen has always been intrigued by that and whenever an invitation comes they always evaluate the esthetics of the invitation. “Oh, this is nice. Good color coordination. It’s embossed. Oh, look at this. This is so trivial.

A wedding should be sacred.” And it’s interesting to hear them. They take the invitation very seriously. For a man, “Where is it? When is it? How long is it? What’s the information?” But the women, “Look at the card! Oh, that envelope! I like that one. Look at the grain and there’s a fabric. Oh, how clever.” You know what I’m talking about. The invitation is very important. For the man we want to know when is it? For the woman they want to know… the delivery of the invitation is important. God has delivered a beautiful invitation to you in person to the wedding. And he wants you to be an honored guest there. And he says, “Come.” The great invitation begins with, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden.” You’ll notice you’ve got the great invitation here. He says, “Come.” But when they don’t come he tells his servant, “Go! Go and tell them to come.” We’ll get to that in just a minute. “But they all with one accord began to make excuses.” Now who is the “they” making excuses? Do people wander off the street to a wedding? Now that does happen from time to time, and Karen and I stay in a lot of hotels as we travel and every now and then there’s weddings going on in the hotel lobby and we’re usually dressed up for some church function and I’ll tease her and say, “Hey, it looks like we could find something to eat here.”

I say, “Let’s go in. They’ll never know. We’re dressed up.” I tease her. We’ve never done it. And I say, “You know and if the groom talks to you say, ‘Yeah, we’re with the bride’s family.’ And if the bride, ‘We’re with the groom’s family.’” And there’s so many relatives at these things they have no idea. They’d say, “Who the? Oh, well I don’t know.” Nobody would dare question you. It is true when we were in India, and Doug’s in the studio now. He may remember this. Doug Hill and Mike Adonis Watkins and I, we were walking down the street and this big, big wedding. And they saw us walking down the street and they invited us in because westerners at the wedding, even if they didn’t know who in the world you were somehow added stature to their wedding. “Oh, come in! Come in!” They tried to pull us in off the street, these strangers, to their wedding. They wouldn’t invite the people on the street to the wedding but for some reason they wanted us there, honored guests just because we were from America. We didn’t go in. We didn’t feel right. I don’t remember if we went in or not. You weren’t there. I know. Anyway it all kind of blurs together after a while.

So these men had been invited in advance and evidently they had accepted the invitation. They made a pretense of willingness to go, but when the time came they didn’t go. Let me tell you what brought this on and there’s not a strong connection but there is a connection. I was invited. You know I have gone a couple of times to this prison in Southern California and done a couple of evangelistic meetings and weeks of prayer and I was invited this week to go back down to this prison in Vacaville that’s actually, it’s a, Victorville, I’m sorry. Victorville, not Vacaville. And I went down there because they had asked me to come. They’d been asking me for three years to come back and the prisoners really enjoyed it when I came and hundreds were there. There’s five hundred inmates there. It’s a minimum security prison. 3ABN said, “We’re going to come. We’ll bring our trucks.” They brought their trucks. They got permission to bring their equipment, their cables in through this high security system and through the roof and brought the cables in then you’ve got to go through two or three doors. And we were going to tape this meeting with the prisoners. Well, just before, the morning I’m supposed to leave we get a phone call and they said they’ve called off the meeting. We said, “What?” They said, “Well, I guess they’re having a strike in the prison and they don’t know if it’s safe for you to come down. And so I said, “Well, if that’s what the Lord wants.” Later in the day they called back and they said, “No, it’s on. Come on down.”

So I had to rush, and I flew down. I hopped in the plane. I flew down to Victorville and it’s really neat. You fly over Edwards Air Force Base and you can hear them talking to the Space Shuttle on your radio. It’s getting interesting. And so I flew down, I got there and when I came in the guy that picked me up looked a little somber. He said, “Well I don’t know if anyone’s coming.” He said, “They’re striking.” I said, “What are they striking for? Higher wages? They’re prisoners! What are you talking about, ‘they’re striking’?” He said, “No, they’re upset. They’re you know…some of the TV’s are broke and now all they have are 13-inch TV’s rather than the 60-inch TV’s and several of the phones are broke.” How do you think they got broke? “Well, they broke them. And so they’re having a sit-out. They’re not participating in any prison functions.” Now this prison is getting ready to introduce people back into society so they’ve got training programs and religious programs and educational things and they say, “We’re not going to go to anything” and they’re having a strike. So I got down there and I said, “Well, let me go visit the prisoners. Maybe I can talk to them.” So I went to both of the different wards and I mingled with the manager there and visited with him and I said, “Come on. We’re having a Bible study! Come on over.” “Hey! I’ll be there.” “Yeah, I’m coming.” “OK, that’s great!” Finally when the time for the Bible study came five men out of five hundred showed up. Here we’ve got all the seats, we’ve got the cameras, 3ABN’s got their whole uplink truck there and a crew and we’ve got five prisoners! We’ve got more crew than prisoners! I’m not exaggerating. All these empty chairs. How do you think I felt?

I felt like we had a party and nobody came. We later found out that the, they call them the “reps” in the prison, this is like the gang leaders is what they are. They were saying, “Look! If any of you Christians go you’re going to wake up with someone thumping on you in the middle of the night. Now because this is a minimum security prison they’re not locked in cells at night. They’re more in like a dormitory situation and they get beat up if they come. So they’re being intimidated by the enemy. He’s saying, “Don’t go!” Well, we had five guys that had the courage to come. Five strong men, that’s right. And we said, “Aren’t you afraid?” And they said, “Well, we’re more concerned with what God thinks of us than what these guys are going to do.” And so they came. We pushed all the chairs back. You’ll end up seeing the tape. I said, “Let’s call this a prison Bible study because it looks pathetic to have all these empty chairs.” Pushed all the chairs back. We gathered the five guys around and I just did a Bible study which really happens a lot in prison. Just a small Bible study. And it was a good Bible study. I know the Lord brought me down there.

I said, “Now you go tell your friends that the wedding is ready (so to speak). I want you to bring them on back.” I don’t know what happened to those guys that night but the next day I said, “We’ll try one more meeting.” Only four and most of them were not the same so I think the other ones got romped on for coming. And you know as I was flying home… we taped another small Bible study, and I was flying home I thought, “You know the devil does not want people to hear the Word of God.” And because of his intimidation he will give people a lot of creative excuses not to go, but in this story it’s a little different because the people who say they’re going that don’t go represent first of all, the Jewish Nation who they’ve got the fig tree, the leaves and no fruit. They’ve got the outward forms and no power. And it also applies to the organized church today that is making the same mistake as ancient Israel. We’ve the forms of religion, we’ve got the pretense of wanting to be Christians but we’re really preoccupied with our concerns, with our worldly interests. And when Jesus says, “It’s ready! Come now, let’s go all the way.” We start to make excuses. Now people are extremely creative and clever when it comes to rationalizing and making excuses. Children are pretty good too. It’s one of the first things they learn to do is how to make excuses.

I’ve got a list here I’ve compiled. I don’t know, somebody, it might have been some of you, I’m on your e-mail list. I do save some of the things. I’ve probably got one of the largest collections of clean Internet humor because I save some of these funny things that I get sometimes. You may have seen this before. In the working environment sometimes people get tired and they fall asleep. Sometimes they’re late for work for one thing. And I heard about this one man, he’s got a business in Oakland, supposed to be a true story, and people sign in when they show up for work. And they are supposed to clock their time. And if you come late you’re supposed to write what your excuse was. It might be, “there was an accident”, “a lot of traffic”, “there was fog” and usually everyone late, after the first person who signs in late simply puts ditto marks underneath that name because it’s usually the same thing. “Fog,” yeah, “fog, fog, fog, fog, fog…”

Well the employer noticed that one day a guy came in and he signed in late and he said, “Wife had twins today.” Everybody put ditto marks underneath his excuse! “Well, that’ll work for me.” Others get to work and then they’re tired. It says here, “Here are some of the best excuses you can offer if you’re caught by the boss sleeping at your desk.” “They told me at the blood bank this might happen.” “This is just a fifteen minute power nap like the ones they raved about at the last management course they sent me to.” “Whew! I guess I left the top off the liquid paper!” “I wasn’t sleeping. I was meditating on the mission statement, and envisioning the new paradigm.” “I hear this is one of the seven habits of highly effective people.” “I was testing the keyboard for drool resistance.” “Are you discriminating towards people who meditate?” “Why did you interrupt me? I had almost figured out our solution to the biggest problem!” “Boy that cold medicine I took last night just won’t wear off.” “I wasn’t sleeping. I was trying to pick up a contact lens without hands.” And the best one is, you’re just supposed to go, “Amen!”

Now here is another list of excuses that people offer to either insurance companies or police men for auto accidents. These, I guess some of these, you can find them on the Internet, are actually written down. These are written excuses that were given. “The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intent.” “Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree that I don’t have.” “In my attempt to kill a fly I drove into a telephone pole.” “I had been shopping for plants all day and was on my way home. As I reached an intersection a hedge sprang up obscuring my vision and I didn’t see the other car.” “I’d been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.” “I was on my way to the doctor with rear-end trouble when my universal joint gave out causing me to have an accident.” Why do these strike me as funny? I don’t know. I thought you’d enjoy this. These excuses are… I’m not reading all of them too, I want you to know. “The indirect cause of this accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.” “A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.”

I know this is serious but some of these are funny. “I thought my window was down but I found that it was up when I put my head through it.” “The guy was all over the road! I had to swerve several times before I hit him.” “An invisible car came out of nowhere and struck my car and then vanished.” “I pulled away from the side of the road. I glanced at my mother-in-law and then headed off the embankment.” Those are kind of funny but you know, why do people make excuses? Usually it’s because they’re embarrassed about something they’ve done wrong or something they know they should do or some neglect responsibility and it really isn’t funny when people are making excuses about not going to the wedding feast. What are some of the excuses you’ve heard why people don’t come to church? Tired. Have you noticed that people generally have energy to do what they want to do? “I was too tired to go to church so I went snow skiing.”

Or they had problems with their car. Of course there are six hundred other people whose cars were working fine. You could have asked for a ride. People generally do what they want to do and if people make excuses it’s typically because they don’t want to come. That’s what is at the heart of it. Now making excuses is not a new thing. Our first parents, the first thing they did after sin is they began to make excuses. Remember God said to Adam, “What is this you’ve done?” And Adam said, “The woman you gave me, she gave me of the tree and I ate!” Then God says to the woman, “What have you done?” The woman says, “That serpent that you made, he deceived me.” And at that point the serpent doesn’t have a leg to stand on, so to speak, because he doesn’t offer an excuse. The buck stops with him. Aaron, you remember? Moses said, “What is this you’ve done?” “Well, we threw some gold in the fire and out jumped this calf!”

God says to Saul through Samuel the prophet, “What is this you’ve done?” He sent him on a mission. He said, “Well, it was the people. And we wanted to save a sacrifice for you.” Someone told me once, “You can rationalize almost anything.” During the trials, was it the Nuremberg trials they had for the war crimes of the Nazis? They had excuses for genocide. You can find an excuse for almost anything. But what is a good reason for not coming to the Lord? There is no good reason. Now notice that in this list… what’s a noun? A noun is what? Person, place or thing. Have you noticed that there’s three things that are mentioned here. It’s a person, “my wife”, a place, “a field”, a thing, “a yoke of oxen.” That’s the…a noun, you might say, described it. And these are the same three things covered in the Garden of Eden, the sin there. They blamed a person, “It was Eve.” They blamed a place, “Well, if it wasn’t the tree in the garden.” And they blamed the serpent. Something else I notice when I look at these three things. In creation first God made earth, then he made animals, last thing he makes is a wife.

That’s the same order of the same three things in creation of the world which tells me that what keeps people from the feast are the things of the world. They start making excuses. It’s possessions, it’s people, and it’s… It’s possessions, people and places. Those are the things that keep us, like Lot’s wife. Why did she look back? Because her people, her possessions and her place were in Sodom. And you know what Jesus said in one of his only commentaries about warning of the last days? “Remember Lot’s wife.” He said, “If you’re on the house, don’t turn back when you’re invited to run. If you’re in the field don’t even go back to get your coat.” Don’t look back. And these people, they said, “Sure, I want to come”, but when the time came to go they made light of it. They had all these excuses. They didn’t really want to go. They did not want to be at that wedding. They start to blame the people. It’s like when the religious leaders said, speaking of Jesus, “Have any of the rulers of the Pharisees believed in him?” Now is there anything wrong with buying a field? Is there anything wrong with buying five yoke of oxen?

That’s ten oxen. Is there anything wrong with having a wife? There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with any of there excuses except that they make them a priority. They become absorbed with these things of the world. Jesus said, Luke 21:34, speaking of the second coming, “But take heed to yourselves lest your heart be weighed down with carousing drunkenness” now those are bad “and the cares of this life” those are not necessarily bad, but if they eclipse seeking first God’s kingdom then they’re bad. And Jesus is telling us, Take heed… be careful, be on your guard, watch out, don’t let it happen that your hearts be weighed down with the cares of this life, with your places and your possessions and your people. The Bible says, Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made. Even his eternal power and godhead” notice this “so that they are without excuse.” In the great judgment what excuse will anyone be able to offer for not attending the wedding when the invitation was provided, the garment was provided, is there any excuse we can offer that will fly?

Have you ever had a teacher and you tried to make some excuse for not getting an assignment in and they said, “Stop making excuses.” Have your parents ever said stop making excuses? Take responsibility. Be honest. You just didn’t want to go. And when the king asks that man who shows up at the wedding feast without a garment, “Friend, what are you doing here? Where is your garment? I bought a garment for you.” You know what the answer is. He’s speechless. He has no defense. There is no excuse. So if the Lord has provided the invitation, he’s provided the means, he’s given the warning, he’s provided the food, everything is as his expense and if we say we’re not interested what excuse is there? Will you look at the excuses again? He says, “I bought a piece of ground. I must go see it.” Well, didn’t you look at it before you bought it? Anyone here buy any land sight unseen? And if you by some chance, I actually know somebody that bought some land sight unseen, never saw it. That doesn’t happen very often, but you know what? You can go look at it after the wedding if it’s that important. This other man says, “I’ve bought five yoke of oxen and I’m going to give them a test drive.” You going to do all ten, that’s two oxen apiece, by yourself? Can’t you put that off? Does that have to happen now? You knew the wedding was coming.

You could have waited. Didn’t you test them before you… Anyone here ever buy a car without a test drive? Probably. Did you have problems? No problems with that car. Not too many. And then the finally he says, “I’ve married a wife therefore I can’t come.” Now there is something in the Mosaic Law that if you marry a wife you don’t have to go to war and you’re to nurture and encourage your wife but there’s nothing that says you don’t have to go to weddings. So what kind of excuse is that? Could it be your wife doesn’t want to go and so he’s trying to wait until she’s ready? How many people don’t go to the feast because they’re waiting for someone else that may not be interested? I can’t tell you, friends. There’s so many people that say, “Well, you know, I want to come to your meetings.” Or “I’d like to come to church, but I’m waiting for my husband.” “I’m waiting for my wife.” We are not to put places or possessions or people ahead of that invitation. It’s a terrible insult to the one who has invited us. Now you know what happens. After they offer up all these excuses the Bible says in both these parables, matter of fact, there’s others I haven’t even read, “The king was angry.” And the word is “furious, filled with wrath.” Revelation 16:16 & 17, those who do not make it to the wedding feast are going to experience the wrath of the king.

It says, “They are calling for the rocks and the mountains to call upon them. ‘Hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb for the great day of his wrath is come and who is able to stand?’” Now what’s interesting, it talks about the marriage supper of the lamb and it talks about the wrath of the lamb and they happen the same day. John 3:36 these are the words of Jesus, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” That’s the wedding feast. “He who does not believe in the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abides on him.” That’s serious. You might be thinking, “Oh, Lord, why are you getting so upset just because we’re not going to the wedding?” I won’t tell you who, but when Karen and I got married we had some mutual, very good friends and we sent them an invitation and they didn’t come. And it deeply hurt us that they didn’t come because we thought if they’re friends and if we’re important to them this event would be important. And we were both friends. I mean, usually you’ve got the friends of the bride and the friends of the groom but we were both good friends. And they said, “Well, we’ve got some other appointments.” And yet they had cancelled those appointments for other things. And then they said, “Well, send us a videotape.” That really hurt. We wanted them to participate.

They were too busy with their own affairs. Do you think that hurt our friendship? That told us something about our relationship is not what we thought it was. We weren’t friends. We were acquaintances. That’s how they saw it. We thought we were friends. When we tell the king that we’re more preoccupied than to go to his Son’s wedding after we’ve said we’re going to go and after he’s paid for us to go. You know when you, I’ll tell you one reason the king is upset. Weddings are expensive. I went to the Internet and I got a list of the average expenses for weddings, this is North America. Ceremony, $532.00. These are averages. Reception $9,500.00, attire $2080.50, flowers and decorations $1,168.50, music $1,558.00, photo and video $1,425.00, stationery $380.00, rings $380.00, transportation and lodging $361.00, attendant gifts $380.00. Some of you are writing this down trying to decide whether or not to get married, right? It’s not cheap. Tips and taxes $1,235.00 for a total average wedding of around $19,000.00 for the average North American wedding. Karen and I…did I? I don’t know if I told you this, we went to a wedding last year was it, dear? I know. Well, you go to more than me, but I only went to one with you recently and it was my relative. Was that last year? $150,000.00! The Beverly Hills Hotel? I forget what that’s called.

It’s where Bill Clinton stayed. The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, honeymoon was the presidential suite. We got to go into the presidential suite where President Clinton stayed. They had pillars of flowers, roses. I was just “Whoo!” Everybody’s going, “OOOH! Ah! Oooh!” It’s breathless. The wedding lasted less than a week. No, no. The wedding lasted one day. The marriage lasted less than a week. $150,000.00! We’re still waiting to get our gift back. That just doesn’t seem right. Can you imagine? Now that wedding was nothing compared to the wedding that like Prince Charles had with Diana. They spent millions on that wedding. Can you imagine if you planned this lavish wedding at tremendous sacrifice and you invited people that you thought loved you and it’s for your only begotten son and they say, “We’ll be there, front row cheering you on.” And when the time comes, notice it says everything is ready. They didn’t have refrigerators back then. “The fatted calf has been killed.” They’re trying to keep the flies away. The musicians, they’re on the clock. They’re playing. And you say, “Well, you know, I’ve got some other plans.

Please excuse me.” Would that cut it with you after you paid all that for a wedding? Aren’t some weddings RSVP? They want to know how many people. When Karen and I got married, you know, we had our reception at the Radisson? We wanted to know, we had to pay for each person who came to eat. Are you coming? Good. Alright, I’m writing it down. Another $15.00 and every person that comes. And so people had said, “I’ll be there” and they don’t come. We saw all this food getting hauled off that we’d paid for. That’s a little disconcerting. Well, the king has provided for this wedding with the life of his Son. See it’s the Gospel wedding. And when we say, “I’ll be there” after he’s paid so much and we don’t come it was so expensive to get you there, it was so expensive to get that garment and we don’t come! Can you understand why the king is hurt? Even angry? It’s I think the best definition for the wrath of the lamb. So he then gives the message to his messenger, “go!” First he says, “Come!” then he says, “Go! Go out quickly into the streets and the lanes of the city.” Notice first they go to the city, “and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.” Now you notice in the parable in Luke it says, “his servant” one. Because it’s the Father who has this wedding he sends Jesus. Isn’t Jesus identified in the prophesy as the “suffering servant”?

He comes and he invites everybody and they’re not interested. And first he goes to the city. This is the symbol for going to the Jews. And it tells us that he goes into the city and he says, “Bring in the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.” Now there are two classes that are being invited here when the initial invitees reject the invitation. Keep in mind there was a Jewish law that said, “For any man who has a defect shall not approach the house of God, a man who is blind or lame or has a marred face or a limb too long.” People who had some physical blemish or defect of blind or lame or maimed could not be priests in the temple of God. Now you are a nation, a kingdom of priests. The religious leaders at the time of Jesus believed that the common people were accursed. They even said that. It’s in the gospel. And when Jesus began his ministry who was it that even heralded his birth? Two classes; the poor class of Jews and Gentiles. Those are the ones who end up going to the feast. When Jesus began pulling together his team did he get the priests and the lawyers and religious leaders or did he get fishermen, he got tax collectors.

That’s what it’s talking about because they would not accept him. Jesus said, notice here. Luke 5:31&32, Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Jesus went to those who were spiritually crippled, those who were poor in spirit and that’s why people like the fishermen and the shepherds and the tax collectors they followed Christ. They were the ones who were spiritually poor. They were maimed and blind and the religious leaders said, “We see you.” They were the blind leading the blind. The poor people said, “We don’t see.” They don’t understand. They made no pretense. They did not have that self-righteousness. Again Jesus said Matthew 21:32, “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you believed him not, but the publicans and the harlots believed him.” So they’re the first class; the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. They came, they listened, they believed. But then when that does not work he says to his servant there’s still not enough. Notice what it says here. The servant said, “Master, I have done as you’ve commanded. Still there is room.” Then the master said, “Go!” You notice he says go again. “Go now into the highways and the hedges. He begins in the city. That’s where the temple was.

That is indicative of the holy place. Now he’s going out of the city to the highways. Highways go almost indefinitely until you reach the ocean typically. In the hedges. Along the highways you had the hedges where the people lived. That word hedges is also translated the fences. And what it’s telling us is the servant is going out and in Matthew it would be servants going out. They’re going after the gentiles. They’re not just in the highways. They’re climbing over fences into people’s yards and notice what he says here. “Compel them to come in.” This is the gentiles now. I also want to read another reference for you here. Well, actually I’m not going to read that. I already read it. The gentiles are symbolized by the ones who are in the highways and the hedges. Remember what Jesus said? “Wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit is come upon you and you’ll be filled with power.” Then after they received that power he said, “Go ye therefore, preach in all nations beginning in Jerusalem” (that’s the city), “Judea” (that’s their people), “Samaria” (that’s the highways. These are entering into gentiles now) “and the outermost parts of the earth.” How many stories did Jesus tell about many will come from the east and the west and sit down in the kingdom and feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the children of the king that will be in outer darkness?

This is the message that you find reoccurring time and time again through the gospels is the people that make a pretense of believing but don’t really want to come to the wedding they are cast out and those who are just hungering, they might be poor and lame and gentiles and blind, but the ones who really are hungering for righteousness they’re the ones who are going to be there in the kingdom feasting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And he says, “Go into the highways and compel them to come in.” Now, what does that word compel mean? It means to constrain, to encourage, to invite, to urge. Now, des that mean that you take a whip and you twist their arm and you drag them kicking and screaming to the feast? No, it’s everything short of that. If you saw some hungry people on the street… suppose that you were homeless… and I’m really thankful for what Carolyn has announced that we’re getting back into the feeding of the hungry and the homeless out on the streets. And suppose you lived in a community of starving people and you’ve got a banquet hall filled with food and the banquet hall filled with food is empty and surrounding the banquet are all these people dying of starvation and you know that the doors are open and anybody who wants can come in. Would you want to tell people?

If you told people there’s plenty of food in the banquet hall and they thought it was too good to be true would you invest a little more energy in encouraging them to go? “Everything you need is there! Don’t miss it! It’s an abundance. There’s room for you!” “Oh, not me. I’m not good enough to go to that wedding.” “Yes, you are!” See? This is what the compelling means. The people really are struggling to believe how good the message is and the messengers have to convince them to try it, to taste and see that the Lord is good. You know that’s why the gospel is called “Good News.” There is an abundant feast. You notice in this story there is not a shortage of food. There is an abundance of food. There’s a bounty and yet there is a reluctance on people to go, there’s a reluctance on people’s side to see. How many of you remember the story in the Bible where there is a terrible famine? II Kings chapters 6 & 7. Terrible famine in the land of Israel. They’re surrounded by the Syrians and the famine is so bad that they’re eating donkey heads and dove droppings and bean pods, and they’re eating each other.

They had resorted to cannibalism. Starving! God creates a disturbance on the horizon that somehow terrorizes the Syrian army that has surrounded the people of Israel and they get up and they flee in a panic and they leave their tents, their horses, all their provisions intact. It would be like you’re going to a massive picnic where nobody’s touched the food. There’s an abundance and you’re starving. These four lepers find all this food and they go back to the city and they say, “There’s an abundance of food! Come and eat!” And you know what the king said? “Oh, it’s probably a trap. It’s too good to be true. What do you mean there is an abundance of food? They’re just trying to trick us.” And these four lepers had to urge the people in the city that were dying of starvation to come out. You know that’s almost what it’s like for you and I. You and I have been sent and told to go and tell the good news. You notice the go comes twice.

First Jesus told the apostles to go to the lost sheep of Israel. That’s the first go. Then after you have the stoning of Stephen then they’re being told to go into Samaria and the outermost parts of the earth to the gentiles in the highways and the hedges. You and I are part of that commission. We’re being told to go and to tell people that there’s this great feast and there’s an abundance of food. Luke 22:29, “And I bestow upon you a kingdom just as my father bestowed one on me that you might eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Now, it’s not only true in the Jewish economy and in the Bible, but one of the greatest signs of a relationship is not that you shake hands at the door.

That’s an acquaintance. It’s where you, when you sit down and you eat with somebody that was a sign of relationship, intimacy. People invited Jesus to their homes to eat. Matter of fact, Jesus indicated an interest that he wants to eat with us. What did he say to Zaccheus? “Today I must abide at your house.” Do you think Zaccheus was going to make Jesus bring his own food? Or would he provide the food? When Jesus stands at the door and he knocks. ((knocks three times)) I always like to illustrate that so you’ll hear it. ((knocks three times)) And he calls, in Revelation, what does he say he wants to do if you open the door? Come in. Come in and what? Sup. He wants to feast with us. Why is it the Lord is having such a hard time getting people to the dinner? There’s an abundance of food. Some people think, “Well, there’s not enough for me.” You know that song, we can’t sing it because I don’t know all the words, “plenty of room in the family,” I think it’s a Gaither song. Is that a Gaither song? “Plenty of food on the table.” What is the rest of that? “Plenty of food on the table, room for the young and the old.”

Yeah, see, you’ve got to start singing it or you don’t remember. There’s plenty for everybody, but people don’t want to come. Notice what else he says here. “Go out into the highways and hedges, compel them to come in that my house may be filled.” God wants his house filled. Some people’s idea of the gospel is, “Ah, he’s being very discriminating. He’s being very exclusive and he’s just kind of ‘I’ll take this and maybe this one.’ And he’s selecting, he’s predestined that he wants a few.” That’s not the message of the Bible. Many are called, few respond to the call! That’s what it means few are chosen, it means few have chosen to respond. But the invitation is very broad and encompassing. God wants many to come. Have you listened to the message at the end of the Bible?

He says, “Whosoever will let him come.” Matter of fact, Revelation 22:17 again one of the last verses in the whole Bible is in the context of a wedding. “The spirit and the bride say come and him that heareth say ‘come’ and let him that is athirst come and whosoever let them take the water of life freely.” God has invited people to this feast and yet when he is asking us to come to him and to surrender and to follow him why does he meet with such hesitation? Why do we make excuses? How sad. How dangerous. What was the first miracle of Jesus? Where was the first miracle of Jesus? It was a wedding feast. Do you think that was an accident he just serendipity said, “Oh, what should I do first? Oh, I’m at a wedding. OK, I’ll make some water into wine.” Or was it calculated? Everything that Jesus did was for a reason. The first thing he does is he provides refreshment at a wedding. The very first miracle in Jesus’ ministry is in the context of a wedding because he’s wanting to illustrate to you and me that heaven is going to joyful, that he wants to be united with us. We are his bride forever. And to say, no. And he’s paid for everything.

What a tragedy that would be. Now, I’m closing by going back to the beginning. “Come for all things are now ready.” I want you to notice that now. Then, when they don’t come he sends out his messengers and he says, “Go out quickly.” Come, now, quickly. Is there a sense of urgency? The door is going to shut. Have you read the story of the virgins? The Bible says that there is a time when the door will shut. Have you ever gone to the wrong feast? Not too long ago I… this has happened to me several times, but it happened very recently. I went to a, where was I? Mid America Union to a convention in a hotel. Karen joined me for that one. Huh? Kansas City. It was in Nebraska. We stayed at a hotel. We were supposed to meet in the basement, no not the basement, the ground floor. And I went downstairs and went to where I thought this church function was where all this evangelistic people were going to be meeting and talking about soul winning, and as I got closer to the room I heard the music and I thought, boy, they’re really liberal here in Nebraska. And I came around the corner and I got ready to go into the ballroom and I saw that they were eating what looked like rolled up pork orders and drinking martinis and dancing. I thought, man! I had no idea. Wait till I get back to California. They thought they were liberal there!

I went to the wrong feast. Of course as I got closer to the door I realized this doesn’t look like the right party. I went to the wrong function. You know there are two feasts in Revelation, and everybody here is going to be at one or the other. Now, this may not sound positive, friends, but it is scriptural and so on leave that with the lord and you deal with it. There is the wedding feast of the lamb and then there is the feast of the vultures. You’re going to be at one feast or the other. If you are indifferent about the feast the Lord has invited you to you’re going to be at a feast. It’s the feast that happens after the wrath of the lamb. What a terrible thing. The Bible says that the door was shut and they were left in outer darkness and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is serious business, friends. This is the wedding of the king. You’ve been invited. It's not just a social insult if you don’t go. It’s life and death. If you’re not at this feast, it’s life and death. And he says now, today, quickly. Why would we hesitate to come when the Lord has provided that time for us now? He’s asking us to follow him.

Don’t make excuses. Peter, James, John, Andrew left their nets, Matthew left his tax table, and they followed him immediately. He’s inviting us to that wedding feast. He wants us to feast with him in that kingdom around that table. I want to be there, don’t you friends? I want to be in the presence of the King and see Jesus on his throne and sit down with Abraham Isaac and Jacob. I do not want to be among those who are going to beat the door and say, “Lord, let us in.” And he’s going to say, “I don’t know you.” I don’t want to be among the ones who try to creep in without a garment and he says, “I’m sorry, you can’t come in without that garment that Jesus has provided.” This is the context of the gospel. He’s provided the food, he’s provided the garments, he’s provided the table, he’s given the message “come now, come quickly.” If it's your desire to be there reach for your hymnal. Please turn to 426, “I will see the king” and it talks about our gathering in that kingdom. This is a happy song so I want you to sing it, you know sometimes trying to get a congregation to sing a song with gusto is like trying to turn an ocean liner and so we’re going to sing this the way I think it was designed to be sung.

There has been a wedding planned for the King, for his son. You have received a very expensive royal invitation delivered by a royal messenger. Do you plan on attending? The devil is going to try to intimidate you and keep you from going and get you preoccupied with the cares of this life. Friends, don’t make any excuses. There will be none. Plan on being there. Amen?

Father in heaven, we want to thank you for the invitation to the marriage supper of the lamb. And Lord, this is a tremendous privilege that you provided at tremendous expense. You provided the food, you provided the music, you provided the garments. And, Lord, I pray that each one of us here will understand what a wonderful blessing and privilege this is and plan on being there and not let anything obstruct us and not rationalize or have any excuses. This we ask in the name of your Son. Amen.

See you there, friends! God bless.

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