Recently, we held a birthday party for my daughter at the local skating rink. She had begged for a party there and since her birthday is in December, it’s best to have those parties inside. She was allowed to invite 12 friends, all who would be able to skate for the whole day, so it was important that those invited would RSVP their intent on coming. Although it started in formal French society, the RSVP is considered the polite way of accepting or declining an invitation. Interestingly, Jesus told a parable during his ministry of the importance of graciously accepting his invitation.
In Matthew 22:1-14, we find recorded Jesus’ Parable of the Wedding Banquet. In it he says,
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. “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.’ “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. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. “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.’ 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. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
This parable was told to the chief priests and Pharisees in the temple courts. These were students of the law, those who should be most devoted to the service of God’s kingdom and Jesus’ story doesn’t pull any punches. Those who were invited to this great banquet refused to go. They had the audacity to tell their king no. The king even went as far as to extend the invitation again, and those who were invited killed the king’s servants.
Sadly, even today people are turning their backs on the King’s unique invitation. He says, “Follow me,” and instead of courteously accepting, we find excuses why we can’t come. “I don’t have time,” some say. Others reply, “I have a job to keep and a family to raise.” Still others believe that the banquets of the world are enough to satisfy. They don’t even realize that those parties end, that they’ll soon be forgotten and that God’s invitation doesn’t last forever.
The King of creation has invited you to his banquet. It’s a celebration bigger than any you could imagine. He’s waiting for your response. Can he count on meeting you there?