Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “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.” (Matthew 22:1–7, emphasis mine)
In Matthew 22, Jesus tells this parable of an invitation from a king, comparing his invitation to join the kingdom of God to a wedding banquet that a king has prepared for his son. But the guests refuse to come. They refuse an invitation from the king.
In ancient Rome, an invitation from Caesar would have been a command performance of the highest order. The insulted king here was gracious enough to give them a second chance. But they ignored the invitation the second time. They had more important priorities in their lives than obeying the king? But they were not done; they mistreated and killed the king’s servants. They mistreated and killed the king’s servants!
Jesus was telling this parable in the temple courts where he was being challenged by the high priests and elders. This was the religious establishment of the Jews, the very people who should have been most devoted to the King. But the leaders of God’s chosen people were rejecting the Messiah and his invitation to join the kingdom of God. And before long, they would attack his messengers.
Clearly, Jesus knew that many would refuse his invitation.
When Jesus invited the rich young ruler of Matthew 19 to “go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (19:21), the ruler couldn’t do it. He could not lay down his most precious possession if that was what was required to follow Jesus. Instead we read, “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (19:22).
Thanks for the invitation, Jesus, but the cost is just too high.
Whether they be daily bits of time or momentous career decisions, what has God asked you to give up for him? How have you responded to him (and his messengers)?
Lord, thank you for giving us second chances. Please help me to make your will my top priority, to arrange my days and life around it.