Heaven, Hell, and Predestination – Part 4

A week ago I preached a sermon at The Eastside Vineyard Church titled, “Heaven, Hell & Predestination.” Since this is such an important topic I thought I’d take that sermon and turn it into a series of blogs. Here is part 4…

[Note: if you haven’t read the previous posts of this series yet, click here]

When it comes to the topic of heaven, hell, and predestination, the Parable of the Wedding Banquet found in Matthew 22 and Luke 14 is a great story to focus on. I started unpacking it in my last blog. Let me pick up where I left off…

Verse 3…

He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come… – Matthew 22:3 (NIV)

Back in the day of Jesus a wedding banquet was a big deal. It was THE event of the town. When weddings happened, life got interrupted in a very good way. To help you understand how people treated a wedding back then, imagine what would happen to Metro-Detroit if the Lions ever made it to the Superbowl. (Ok, really really imagine!) It would be the equivalent of a national holiday. Stores would be closed because no employees would show up for work. That gives us a glimpse of the importance of a wedding back then.

That’s why the end of verse 3 is so shocking. Here’s the first plot twist of the parable:

…but they refused to come. – Matthew 22:3 (NIV)

If you were in the original audience when Jesus was telling this parable, you would have been shocked by this turn of events. Because you just wouldn’t do something like this. Refusing to come to a wedding was unheard of.

Verse 4…

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ – Matthew 22:4 (NIV)

The King finds out that the invited guests aren’t coming. But he chooses to believe the best about them. He thinks they must have misunderstood what his servants said. So he sends more servants out and makes it very clear: “The food is ready. The party is about to start. So come! Come to the wedding banquet!”

How do the guests respond? Do they change their minds and come to the party?

Verses 5-6…

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. – Matthew 22:5-6 (NIV)

Instead of honoring the king, instead of coming to the party, some of the guests blow off the invitation completely. One person goes off to tend to his field. Another goes back to work. If that wasn’t bad enough, some guests mistreat the servants of the king, going so far as to kill them (an allusion to what Israel did to the Old Testament prophets).

Imagine the outrage you would feel if you were the king. After all, you are inviting people to a wedding, not to a sod-laying “party” in your backyard! 🙂 If you were the king, what would you do? Here is what he did…

Verse 7…

The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. – Matthew 22:7 (NIV)

The king lashes out in anger, and goes beyond the law of the land back then, which was “an eye for an eye…a tooth for a tooth…a life for a life.” Not only does he take a life for a life, but he also burns down their city (an allusion to the complete destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. at the hands of the Roman Empire).

But the King doesn’t cancel the wedding banquet. Instead he changes his tactics.

Verses 8-9…

Then he said to his servants, ‘“The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” – Matthew 22:8-9 (NIV)

The King takes the original invitation list and throws it out the window. A ton of food is prepared. His house is ready for a party. So he tells his servants to invite and invite and invite.

Verse 10…

So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. – Matthew 22:10 (NIV)

The servants invite all the people they can find — the good people of the town AND the bad folks. Everyone is invited to the party.

This same parable is told in the gospel of Luke and he adds some key details in his version of it. The King is speaking and says…

Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. “‘Sir,’ the servant said, “what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” – Luke 14:21-23 (NIV)

As a result, the wedding reception is packed out. It’s standing-room-only. It’s filled with the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame…and everyone else they can find.

But then a major plot twist happens in Matthew 22:11-13. I’ll unpack it in my next blog. Part 5 is coming soon…

***Please join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. I will be unpacking an often-quoted teaching of Jesus, a teaching that doesn’t mean what I bet you think it does. The story about paying the imperial tax to Caesar in Matthew 22:15-22. April 28. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***

 

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About Dan Kopp

In 2010 Dan and Kellie felt the call by God to plant a church somewhere in Macomb County, Michigan. Several months later The Eastside Vineyard Church launched and currently meets inside Shelby Jr. High in Shelby Township. This blog began in the pre-launch phase of the church and has exceeded 50,000 hits. Thanks for reading!
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