Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for Sunday 11 October 2020

by Andy Cokayne 11 October 2020

Welcome - A call to worship from Psalm 145 v 1-8

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Our first hymn is : ‘How can I keep from singing’

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Prayer and Lord’s Prayer

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Our second hymn is : ‘I am thine, O Lord’

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One of the passages of scripture set for today is : Matthew 22 v 1-14 - The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Message: God’s Gracious Invitation and Uncompromising Acceptance

In the parable that Jesus tells, the invitation and acceptance are central themes. I wonder how many times you have sent out invitations to a particular event, and included a clear date to reply by, RSVP, giving you plenty of time before the event. After all you need to organise the catering, the size of the venue, the seating, and also have the chance to invite others if some people advise they cannot attend. Yet still some people appear not to understand the concept of replying by a date. When questioned, the following is occasionally a response “Well I was waiting to see if so and so was going, before I replied.” Hmmm! How frustrating. However I cannot complain too much. Every 3 months, Local Preachers are asked to submit their dates of when they are, or are not, available, and I am terrible at replying.

Jesus is continuing his teaching on what the kingdom of heaven is like, and the event to which the invitations refer is a banquet. Banquets play a big part in Jesus’ life and ministry. A place where enjoyment and celebration were key. In Luke 14 v15-24 we read of The Parable of the Great Banquet, where many are invited, but begin to make excuses why they could not attend. So the servants are instructed to invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. In Luke 15 v11-32 in the Parable of the Lost Son. v23 The Father says “Let’s have a feast and celebrate.” In John’s gospel 2 v1-11 Jesus performed his first miracle at a Wedding Banquet, where He changed water into wine. In Matthew’s gospel 11 v18-19, Jesus is accused of spending too much time at banquets. He is invited to them, he knows how to celebrate, and he refers to them often in his teaching, especially when trying to describe what the kingdom of God is like.

In this parable, the King is His Father God, the King’s Son is Jesus himself, the first guests to be invited are believed to be the Jews - the people of Israel, the guest referred to as ‘anyone you can find’ ‘both good and bad’ are believed to be the gentiles, which includes you and me. A parable has various levels at which we can learn from. Here are just three:
There is no sitting on the fence with an invitation, we either accept it or reject it. God is fair, He gives us plenty of opportunity to accept His invitation, whether we accept or reject, it is our free choice, and He accepts our decision. It would be unfair of Him to do any other.

  • Firstly in the culture in which Jesus told this parable, it was usual to send out two invitations to any feast or banquet, the first to invite the guests and the second to say that all is ready please come straight away. Here the King has already sent out one invitation, he then sends out two more that are still ignored. The King has gone over the top to ensure that those that are invited attend the banquet, and yet still the invitations are ignored. The gospel is rejected by many to whom it is offered. It is never like a bus, where we may say, “Oh! I just missed it!” Our Father makes a clear and obvious invitation, and we decide whether we want to accept or reject that invitation God makes on our lives.
  • Secondly the guests, when invited the third time “paid no attention and went off, one to his field, another to his business.” (v5). To them, there were plenty of more important things. It sounds similar to the parable of the wheat and the tares. Where the wheat is sown, and weeds grow around it, similar to the cares of the world. Just like the weeds strangle the wheat and prevent it from growing, so the cares of the world prevent the gospel sown in our lives from growing. Here the cares of the world are, a field and business, in other words what the world would consider more important, take priority over God’s invitation to salvation.
  • Thirdly there will always be hypocrites in God’s church. It is impossible for us to say whether others have accepted God’s invitation in their lives, and have become true followers of Jesus or not. It is not our job to judge, Jesus calls us to follow Him, He will take care of the rest, but remember God cannot be fooled. At the final hour God himself will judge, He will know who really has been a true follower of Jesus, and so been clothed with wedding clothes, and who has not (v11). But at that stage, there is no time to turn to God. We have made our decision, and if we have rejected his invitation, God makes His ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (v13).

We need to learn from this parable that we are to make our calling and election sure. We are amongst those who are invited to become christians, to follow Jesus. We must not miss the invitation. Nor are we to let other things get in the way, and so ignore our invitation, or put it off for another day. Thinking that we have our whole lives before us, we are a bit busy now, we will pick up the invitation later. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 6 v1-2 ‘As God’s fellow-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. ... I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.’ Finally we must remember that God cannot be fooled, He knows whether we are following Jesus or whether it is pure pretence that others see. But it is not our task to judge others, we are called to follow Jesus, God is our judge.

May those final words echo in our ears “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” May we take up our invite, and follow Jesus, that we may receive the prize. Our God is not one for compromise, once we have made our decision.

Our final hymn is : ‘Go forth and tell!’

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We are united with churches throughout the country as we share together in the ‘The UK Blessing’.

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