Honor Fit for a King
by Pr. Dave Mann
This is a challenging parable. Here is the order of events.
An initial invitation to the king’s son’s wedding celebration was sent to an elite guest list. But “they refused to come.”
A reminder of the invitation was sent to the same guest list with an explanation that “the oxen and fattened cattle had been butchered, and everything was ready” at great expense. But “they paid no attention and went off” to their regular activities. They even severely mistreated the servants who were messengers sent by the king.
In anger the king sent his army to render judgment and punishment as they burned city of those who had despised the king’s gracious invitation.
Then, the king sent out new invitations to “anyone” found in the streets. So, the king’s servants invited “the bad as well as the good.”
Finally, the wedding hall was filled with guests.
The next part of the parable is also challenging. One of the guests who was part of the expanded invitation list was audacious enough to come to the celebration without the appropriate attire. Some commentators state that the standard practice of the time was to provide at the door the necessary attire if one arrived in a garb below the standards of the required dress. This might be similar to the practice of an upscale restaurant providing a necktie to those who arrive with an open-collar shirt. To refuse the offer of the provided attire and still enter the celebration is also an act of dishonoring the king, every bit as egregious as the actions of those on the initial guest list.
So, in this parable we have two kinds of disdain for the King: 1) those who were part of the initial invitation list and chose to consider the invitation insignificant, and 2) those who barge into the celebration but refuse the requirement of the proper garb that would bring honor to the King and his Son.
The application is clear. The grace of God is extended extravagantly to all—invitations sent multiple times and in many ways – through holy Scripture, through the Word and Sacraments, through the people you send into our lives. All that is necessary to be part of the eternal wedding banquet is provided. Those who despise the Lord’s grace exclude themselves from the celebration.
Heavenly King, thank you for your patience and for the numerous invitations you have sent to us. We are undeserving of the great expense you have proffered for our inclusion in your salvation. We wish to accept the robe of righteousness that you freely offer us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.