Sermon for Pentecost 20 – 10.15.23

+ 20th Sunday after Pentecost – October 15th, 2023 +

Series A: Isaiah 25:6-9; Philippians 4:4-13; Matthew 22:1-14

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

“Worthy in Christ”

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Holy Scripture begins and ends with a wedding and a wedding feast. It begins with Adam and Eve given to each other by God to be one flesh, and to feast on the fruit of Eden, save one tree. It ends with John’s vision of the marriage supper of the Lamb, you the baptized and all believers are the bride. Christ is the bridegroom who saves and sanctifies you. All your sins are washed away. You are his beloved. Holy to him. Holy in him. Though our sins were as scarlet; in Christ the bridegroom you are white as snow.

A wedding is the backdrop of many of Jesus’ parables as well…like the one we heard today. 

“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”

Who is the “them” that Jesus is speaking to here? The context is similar to last Sunday’s parable. Jesus once again speaks a parable directed to the chief priests and Pharisees. Jesus is teaching the chief priests and the pharisees once again that all the prophets – like Isaiah and Hosea – who prophesied that God was Israel’s husband and Israel was his beloved bride – they were all pointing to Him. The long-expected Messiah, who is also Israel’s God and Husband, is here in the flesh, standing right before them. Jesus’ parable reveals that He is the bridegroom, the son of the king, the Heavenly Father.

This wedding story is not without drama however. Rather than rejoice in the coming Bridegroom, the chief priests and pharisees reject Jesus. Rather than praise and confess his saving Name, they plot to kill him. 

This is what’s going on in the first part of Jesus’ parable. The invitation went out. The Bridegroom is here. Come to the feast. ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ And what was the reaction? They tossed the invitation in the round file. Ignored it. Rejected the Bridegroom.  they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business. 

This was more than a deep insult. More than disrespect. It was disbelief. Rejection of the bridegroom. Jesus was warning the chief priests and pharisees that in rejecting him they were un-inviting themselves to the feast. This is what made them unworthy guests. Not their behavior, not even their sins, but that the reject the savior who comes to rescue from sin. 

You’ll often notice this pattern in Jesus’ parables. The unforgiving servant is condemned even though he is forgiven at first. The invited guests become enemies even though they have a place at the table. And it’s all their own fault. They refused the king’s goodness and so they get the king’s wrath. Turn away from the Gospel, and all that’s left is the Law with its outer darkness and gnashing of teeth. Refuse the rescue swimmer who jumps out of a helicopter to save you from drowning, and well, you drown. 

This is why Jesus tells the parable to the chief priests and pharisees. It’s a warning. Not to reject or ignore or refuse the gracious invitation of the King to the wedding feast. And yet, this is what the religious leaders do, and in doing so, have made themselves unworthy by their opposition, hatred, and plot to kill Jesus. 

The parable goes on. The King has a feast ready, and a feast needs guests. Not only that, this King is generous…no one deserves a seat at his wedding feast, but he is a gracious host and invites everyone. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’10 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.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he was speechless. 

This fellow had the same problem as the first guests who were invited. He had no wedding garment. He was there deliberately despising the king and his son. That is what it means to be unworthy in this parable…to oppose, despise, reject seek to destroy the Son of God and his gracious rescue, his wedding feast he gives freely. The king essentially says to the man, ok, you don’t want grace, wrath is all that’s left. 

The conclusion of this Parable is frightening, if it is heard apart from faith in the Gospel.  But that is precisely the point and the problem at hand in the case of this man without a wedding garment.  He approached the Feast apart from faith in the Gospel.  He presumed to dress himself, instead of receiving and relying on the hospitality of the King in the righteousness of Christ. He thought he could stand before the King on his own terms. But that’s not now it works in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Worthiness to be in God’s kingdom, to be at his table, to be his holy bride has nothing to do with our worthiness – because we don’t have any on our own. Rather, it has everything to do with Christ who is your worthiness. In ourselves we are all unworthy guests. In Christ’s death and resurrection, clothed in his righteousness, you are worthy and holy and forgiven for he has declared it to be.

Jesus’ parable also reminds us that we shouldn’t attempt to feed and clothe yourself – that we don’t stand before God the Father on our own terms, but always in Christ. So do not stay away from the Feast in fear that you are not worthy. Perhaps you’ve thought that before…I am too sinful to come to the Lord’s Table; I’m not worthy. And that last part is true, none of us are worthy. But that’s precisely why our Lord invites us to his table, because we are sick and his body and blood are holy medicine. If you’re worried your sin is too great for God’s gifts, don’t because his forgiveness is always greater. Come to Christ’s table not in our own worthiness, but in Christ who invites you to come, eat, drink, and be forgiven.

Come in this confidence, that you are called to feast upon the One who has given Himself for you in love, and you are dressed in His righteousness from the waters of your Holy Baptism. That is where you received the wedding garment. It has already been given to you. It is already yours.  You are clothed in Christ.

And here your heavenly Bridegroom cares for you as His Bride, His beloved Church.  He clothes you, and He feeds you in His love for you, in His faithfulness and mercy, in His steadfast loving-kindness for you, whom He has sought and called to be His own. 

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Since you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

You are invited. You are clothed. The feast is ready. The table is prepared. Come.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
(253) 922-6977
(253) 922-6977