Come To The Party Jimmy Gentry September 1, 2006 Exodus 2:11-20 & Matthew 22:1-10 The Lord Jesus enjoyed a good party, like most of us. A casual reading of the Four Gospels reveals this about Jesus. In fact, because He went to parties and seemed to enjoy them, He was accused by the religious establishment of being a drunkard and a glutton. He liked parties so much that He used illustrations from parties to teach about the Kingdom of Heaven – like the one before us in this parable in Matthew 22. The word on these pages is about invitation. It is a script about inviting anybody and everybody to a party. Believers in Jesus Christ are called to be an inviting people – people who love to tell the story of Jesus and His love. Inviting anybody and everybody to a party. How do you, how do we view our church? How do you characterize her? Loving? Hateful? Humble? Arrogant? Exciting? Boring? Easy? Difficult? Hospitable? Inhospitable? How about a party? And what about your individual life in Christ: Is your life in Christ a party? Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven, His rule and reign in our individual lives and our collective life as one Body of Christ awaiting His Second Appearing, is to be like a party, a banquet, a feast like those that are given in conjunction with a wedding. “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son” (Matthew 22:2). Weddings were fun occasions in biblical times. They are supposed to be in modern times too. But in the modernity of today they can be, not always, but can be, pains in the neck or other parts of the anatomy depending on which day of the week it is. Anybody ever watched the reality TV show “Bridezilla”? My dear soul. Have you ever seen such? Those are some pretty angry women. These are really some unhappy people. Most of the people on those “reality” shows are unhappy and unhappy people often make for narcissistic, utterly selfish people. And that is what some brides and grooms and mommas and daddies and invited wedding guests are today: unhappy and living with the “it’s all about me” disorder. When it comes to weddings, some people have forgotten the joy that is supposed to be associated with them. Obviously the people to whom Jesus referred in this troubling story were invited guests to a wedding party or banquet and, at the last minute, they refused to come. They must have been stricken with that “it’s all about me” disorder. They had been invited and didn’t show up. They didn’t even have the courtesy to decline the invitation, which, in first century culture, was taboo. It was an insult not to attend a party if you had been invited. Twice the father of the groom, a king, sent servants to those invited, but to no avail. Some of the invitees said, “I have to do this, like go to my field” and others said, “I have to do this, like go to my business,” and still others said, “We’ll show you how self-centered we are.” So they mistreated those servants in the second group. Some were even killed. This fatherly king was angry at their response. He sent an army and destroyed those who had been invited. He even burned their city. He said, “If you will not come to my party, then I’ll invite others – anybody and everybody.” And He did just that. His servants went out and gathered all the people they could find, bad people and good people. They came to the party. You and I are servants of a Fatherly King, the Everlasting Father who is King of all kings, revealed most clearly and perfectly in Jesus Christ. He has invited us to His party. Most of us have responded to that invitation. But some, sadly, haven’t responded. Although the impression is given that they have, they really haven’t. I see their names, but I don’t see their bodies or hear their voices. They probably never will respond for whatever reason. Too many other things going on in their lives. Perhaps they don’t like the guest list. They may not care for the music that is playing at the party. Maybe they aren’t too keen on the host. Maybe they don’t care for the appetizers, let alone the main course. They use various excuses from playing golf to fulfilling the American dream. Oh, what these folks are missing. Fortunately, and joyfully, those who have responded to that invitation are mindful of an important reality. As He, the Lord Jesus Christ, shines on us, we comprehend there are masses of people in this world, “the bad as well as the good” (Matthew 22:10), people like you and me, people not like you and me, who need to gather with us in “the wedding hall” (Matthew 22:10). They are to be welcomed here. Everything has been prepared and is ready for the serving. Jesus bids each of us to go and invite anybody and everybody to the party. For our part as God’s people it’s a matter of opening up our lives and saying to the person in our midst wherever that might be, “Come to the party!” It is about being an inviter – inviting anybody and everybody to experience Jesus Christ. You and I aren’t the guests of honor. Yet the Party Host, God Himself, treats us as guests of honor. As such we are to remember, it’s not my party and it’s not yours, either. Remember the Number 17 Song of 1963? Sure you do. Lesley Gore sang it well: “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to. You would cry to if it happened to you!” Not getting your way at the party? Let’s be honest. Most of us aren’t and shouldn’t get our way. If you and I will remember that it’s neither your party nor mine, we’ll be fine. It’s God’s party. He’s the One throwing it. He’s the Host. He wants you and me to come. He wants anybody and everybody to come. He wants us to have a good time, but He also wants us to remember that it’s not our party. It’s His party. And the only One who has a right to cry at the party is God. He cries when we fail to attend. He cries because His servants aren’t inviting and gathering people to His party, and many of those who are invited don’t come. Everyone is invited to the party, His party. His church is open to all. There is no waiting list. We are to make room for anybody and everybody. Why? Because everybody needs rescuing. Like us, people are perishing. The King needs servants who’ll rescue the perishing and care for the dying. And the more His servants – like you and I – invite others, the more joy there will be at His party. Let’s invite everybody to the party. And be sure you don’t miss it. _________________ Jimmy Gentry is Pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, GA. 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