Do you ever have a bad dream? Or is it just preachers that have bad dreams? You might say, "Well, what does a preacher ever dream about that would be a bad dream? Let me just tell you about one of my bad dreams. This particular dream I have dreamed over and over again. I wish I could stop it. Well, I can't control my dreams. So, I'm going to just share it with you. This is one of the worst ones: I'm due out on the platform in just a few minutes to preach, just any minute, and I'm still back there, almost like I was today after the baptism, and I am not quite dressed yet. In fact, I can't find my tie, I can't find my coat, and I can't find my shirt. So I'm running around behind the baptistery somewhere in my tee shirt and my pants trying frantically to find my tie and my shirt and my coat. I look out through the curtains and I see the whole congregation waiting on me. I suppose any minister who has had many baptism has this dream. Maybe that's where it comes from. I don't know. Well, I'm running around trying to find the rest of my clothes and I just in a dither. I can't find them. I peak out every once in a while and my time has come and I've got to get out there. I'm in a terrible quandary. I don't know what to do. I'm hopelessly running out of time. And I wake up in a sweat. It was a preacher's nightmare. And I have that dream over and over. And I said to Pastor Crutcher, "Do you ever dream that?" In fact, he asked me if I dreamed that. "Yes I do" And he does, too.
The sobering truth is that someday in the future this nightmare could be yours. I hope you won't. You don't have to. It could be yours. If you respond correctly to this parable here in Matthew 22:1-14, I don't think there is any need for any of you to have a dream like that. Let me just share with you this parable Jesus told about a man who was not wearing the appropriate clothing at an elaborate black tie wedding banquet. That's what this is about.
Come over here to Matthew 22:2,3 and I would like to begin with verse 2. "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." God Himself is preparing this banquet, and He's preparing to for every human being on the face of the earth. And He send forth golden invitations from the "Hallmark Center of the Universe." These are good cards. In fact, they are made of solid gold. And they are not mailed. They are delivered by hand, personal invitations to His great banquet. In the Middle East in Jesus' time it was a custom that you need to know that obtains it in this parable. The custom was that when an individual invites somebody to a banquet you get an invitation, but you do not know when the banquet is going to be. That knowledge is not given. The time, the day or the hour is not known. And then, just prior to that banquet, they announce the day and the hour. So that would be the second invitation.
In this parable, those who initially received invitations stood the king up. They did not come. The King is God. The Son is Jesus Christ. The marriage is between Jesus and the church. And so all of us are invited because we are the bride. That's easier for you ladies to identify with than me because I don't prefer to be a bride. And so His servants go out and they again urge the people to come. Why is the King so anxious for the guests to arrive and to not miss the wedding?
Because He Loves them and they are indeed the bride of His Son, and He wants them to share in His joy. So, don't miss heaven. Heaven is going to be special. If you get there, you will enjoy it.
Matthew 22:3-7. ...they refused to come. They would not come. They were invited. The servants of the good King and gave everybody an invitation but they wouldn't come. Then what happened? They refused it. Why did they refuse it? Look at verse 5. "But they paid no attention and went off-- one to his field, another to his business." In other words, they had a lot of excuses.
Now there were two different groups of people that got the invitation. The first group did not come because they were too busy. They gave excuses:
We don't hear of anybody going off to a wild party, or an immoral adventure or night club. These were not "bad" people. They weren't going out to do something wrong. They were going about their business. They were simply too busy to come to God's banquet.
And that's our problem. This really fits us here in Tennessee because we are too busy. Honestly, we are. We are too busy for life, preoccupied with the routine things of life. We're not bad people in general. We're pretty good people here. But we're too busy for God. We're too busy to study His Bible every day like we ought to. We are too busy to be in prayer like we ought to be. We're too busy to read the Bible in the morning because we want to flip on the TV to see if Bin Laden is captured. Isn't that the truth?
It is so easy for us to be so busy with the things of time that the things of eternity get pushed aside! The tragedy of life is that too often, that which is second best, shuts out that which is best. And that's what's happening today with Christians throughout not just Tennessee but throughout the world. A person can be so busy making a living that he fails to make a life! The things which are actually good in themselves shut out the things that are supreme!
Don't be preoccupied with the plastic and chrome of this life when you could have the gold and platinum and silver of the Kingdom of God, the spiritual wealth that God waits to give you. Don';t cheat yourself. Put Jesus first!
This kind patient king sent more servants to plead with each potential guest to attend. Has some accident happened in your life that God miraculously rescued you from certain death? If so then you have already had a second chance. How many more opportunities will you have?
There were two groups that day. The second group mistreated and then killed His servants. They totally severed their connection with the Good King. Not all went back to running the machinery of life. These people were not good people at all. Matthew 22:6 says: "The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them." Now, this was a bad group. Of course they did not deserve to go to the banquet whatsoever.
This group of people killed His servant. They totally severed their connection with the good King. They didn't go running back to the machinery of life. They went out to kill. The King James says , "...the remnant took his servants..." The remnant killed them. Well, who is the remnant?
Have you ever heard of the "remnant?" This is a scary parable, folks. The remnant go out and kill His servants. This is bad. They killed the One who invited them to the banquet.
Who is it that gives us the invitation? Who is it that woos you, tries to pull you to the banquet? It's the Holy Spirit, isn't it? And they kill the Holy Spirit. Do some of God's remnant people today knowingly "Kill" God's Servant called the Holy Spirit? Is it possible to kill the Holy Spirit? Yes, By continually shutting Him off until we no longer hear that small gentle loving voice. O, that the Remnant, living in these last days would listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. What power would come into our spiritual lives. What strength would characterize our churches. The very thing they needed the most they killed. We need the Holy Spirit in our life. We must have the Holy Spirit in our life.
What happens if we spurn the Holy Spirit long enough? Look at verse 7. What happened to them? "The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city." Judgement fell upon them. Some of the remnant were destroyed by fire. The possessions and tinsel that had kept them so busy--too busy for the supreme things of life, now were destroyed with these professed Christians.
The Bible says they lived in "their city." (Verse 7) Not just any city. They lived in their city. The city had become theirs. They had so entwined their lives with the city that it was like it belonged to them. It was their city. That ought to speak volumes to us. The fast life of the big city had become their life. They loved that modern life filled with activities on every side. Upon these cities will be poured out the wrath of God in the last days. Vexations and terror will destroy them.
A group did accept the invitation. Look at Matthew 22:8-10 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come."
The Banquet was ready. The king's faithful servants were sent out to invite anybody that could possibly come. People standing, leaning against the street corners, people who were not occupied with anything else, please come to the banquet. They were invited. People were sent out to invite them. They went to the highways and street corners. This represents the fourth call of God. Now if ever we are to learn, you know. Usually three strikes and you are out. This is the fourth call of God. God is so forgiving. Isn't our God wonderful? Can you see how longsuffering and full of mercy and grace God is? If we are lost, it will not be God's fault. Four times God tries to populate His kingdom with His friends.
Notice that this fourth call. It is made to BOTH the good and the bad. Both groups are found in the church: the good and the bad. You can read that in verse 10. "...and the wedding hall was filled with guests." All the people were there. Is everybody here today good? Is everybody here today righteous? There are some bad people here, aren't there. There are good people here. Are there any hypocrites here? Yes, there are hypocrites here. The good and the bad will both be there. Both seated in the pews. You can expect that.
So, when you come to church you don't want to come to look at the hypocrites, simply come to look at Jesus. Come for His food. To be fed from His hand. His table is here. Wholesome food is free for the taking. The meal will be whole wheat, but not all the people are whole wheat. Do not stay away because someone else who may not seem like much of a Christian might be sitting there. It is rare to find wheat without some chaff.
Imagine the fourth invitation: maybe it's a nice summer day. People are standing around on the street corners and all of a sudden a dignified man comes up and says, "I'd like to invite you to the banquet of the king. He's having a wedding for His Son and you're invited to come." And you think, "Wow. I didn't know I was going to be here today. This is exciting." Probably a lot of people were there like that.
Imagine a man, standing there in his regular clothing and this happening to him. Probably one man thought about his good looks, "You know, this is really great. I never dreamed that this afternoon I'd be in the palace of the King. Wow! What luck I have." Then as he was about to enter through the golden halls, he was dazzled with the majesty of the place. The royal grounds just made his poor old heart beat all the much faster. And those magnificent gates that he walked through were so impressive. Then he saw the halls and all the gold and all that big table there, all spread out, laden with food beyond imagination. And he took his place at the table.
"Fortunately," he probably thought, "I'm just happen to be dressed in some pretty good clothes today. This is a coincidence. I'm ready to be here. I look a better than a lot of these other people." Those thought may have been in his mind.
However, just about the time that the announcement was made that crisp brand new clothing was going to be given to everybody, free of charge. So everybody was to put on this new clothing. Usually, in those days, it was a white robe, a beautiful expensive robe. After the wedding you could take the robe home with you. This was impressive.
Now, I don't want you to miss something here in Matthew 22:4. I skipped this intentionally. I want you to come back now to verse 4. This makes and interesting statement, at least to me. Matthew 22:4 says, "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.'" "Everything is Ready." I want you to think about that. As this man sat down at that banquet table, how much preparation did he have to do? All he had to do was come. Everything was ready. All was ready. Don't miss this point: You do not have to make yourself ready for the wedding. You are not required to try to obtain any particular standing. You don't have to do any portion of earning your way to this banquet. There is nothing you can do. The Bible says that all is already done. It's all done! Everything is ready, says the NIV. Jesus has done it all. When Jesus died on the cross, what did He say? "It is finished." How much of it was finished? It was all finished. It's all done! Our part is to simply accept the invitation and attend the wedding. That's our part. Now let's go to part four of this sermon.
Matthew 22:11-14. These people were seated here and you can read there that the King came and had an inspection. All except our friend were dressed in the King's clothing. After much thought, this man probably thought, "Well, you know, my personal clothing is okay." Maybe he had even made it himself. Maybe he was proud of it. His mother made it. Whatever. It was brand new. And he was going to wear his own clothes.
The King came in to see the guests and everybody stood at attention at the arrival of the King. A great hush came over the crowd. The King's royal eyes moved slowly over the crowd, and all of a sudden He noticed somebody who was not wearing the robe that He had provided. The King noticed our friend and started over in his direction. He came right up to him. Maybe our friend thought, "He's noticed my clothing. I've got it made."
And the King said, (in verse 12) "'Friend, He asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless." Was there any excuse? He could have said, "I couldn't afford the clothes." No he couldn't because they're free. "Well, you ran out of clothes." No, there were plenty of clothes. There was no excuse. Notice verse 13. "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.'" He was bound with strong ropes. Do you know what that represents? The close of probation. He was cast into outer darkness.
Jesus is the Light of the world, and when you are cast into outer darkness, you are away from Jesus. What happens out there? There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. What does that represent? I think that represents the condition of anybody who is apart from Jesus Christ. It's a time of trouble. In fact, I read in Christ's Object Lessons by EG White, p.307, that this parable "opens before us a lesson of highest consequence." And I would agree with that. The lesson here is immense.
The marriage of Jesus to His church is special. Notice that the inspection takes place before the wedding. Don't miss that. This is a pre-advent judgment, and investigative judgment, right here in Matthew 22. It happens before the wedding. That's amazing to me.
What is the basis of the judgment? It's not fame. You don't pass by how much money you have. It's whether or not you're wearing the robe. That's the only qualification. It's not your good merits. It's whether you're wearing the wedding garment, period.
And our guest was dressed in his own clothes. But in God's sight he was not dressed for success. His fine hand maybe had made his own clothes. That represents works. But what are our works like? Isaiah 64:6 says, All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Our righteousness is unacceptable in the sight of Jesus Christ.
So, he stood speechless, nothing to say. Our best efforts will not gain us one inch toward heaven.
And, what is the robe? What is that robe? That robe is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. I would like to have you come to Isaiah 61 in your Bibles. You may wish to underline this. Isaiah 61:10. I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in the robe of righteousness... What is the robe? It's the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That's what it is. That is the robe. And if you are wearing that, you are dressed for success in God's sight.
It's expensive. But you don't have to pay for it. It's available. All you have to do is take it. That's how you're saved. And I cannot finish this year of 2001 without telling you that you can be in heaven. All you have to do to be saved is accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Accept the invitation and come to the wedding banquet.
Now, we modern human beings like to shop at Old Navy, the Gap. We like these clothes that the name of the company is written right on the clothing. Have you noticed that? When I was a kid my mother used to say, "Make sure your label is tucked in so nobody will see it. Well, today they just print it right on the outside of the clothes. Christians ought to make sure that the clothes that we wear have the right label. And do you know what should be printed on that label? "Jesus." That's your ticket to heaven. It's Jesus. Don't live without Jesus. The wedding banquet is coming. And if you have any other label, you're going to be in the gap. You understand I'm not against Gap clothes. Don't wear any other label. You will soon sit at a long silver table if you've accepted Jesus as your Savior, if you're covered with His righteousness. If you are not, you won't make it.
Pastor Crutcher is wearing a wonderful white shirt today. (When he told the children's story, he showed his shirt to us when he took his jacket off. Most of the shirt was blotched and dirty and had holes in it. But when it was covered with the coat, it looked great.) How do you feel wearing a shirt like Pastor Crutcher's? If you are not wearing the robe of Jesus' righteousness, you're going to feel more than a draft. You're going to feel the heat. What a tragic nightmare that would be. You know, these preacher dreams are bad, but I will tell you that the worst nightmare you can avoid by wearing the right clothing and being properly dressed. You don't know the day or the hour, so you should put on the robe right now. You need to be ready. Put on Jesus every day. Put on you Savior. May God bless you.
This is the last sermon of this year. I think it's been a great year that we've had here at this church. And may God bless us each . Be sure to wear Jesus and accept His robe, it's free.
Hymn of Praise: #133, Now Is Born the Divine Christ Child Scripture: Matthew 22:8-10 Hymn of Response: #125, Joy to the World 011229Gettys#47
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last updated 12/30/2001 by Bob Beckett.