Part VII of our series on Sharing Your Bread
We concluded our last post by noting the three important themes that come up in the parable of the wedding feast.
Today, we want to take a look at the parable itself and explore why the picture of a feast is so important to Jesus. Here’s Jesus in Matthew 22:1-14, shortly after his final entry into Jerusalem:
1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 “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.’
5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 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.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
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.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
This parable is about a wedding feast. But for Jesus, the wedding feast isn’t intended to symbolize a church service. Instead, the church service is supposed to symbolize a wedding feast!
The Scriptures don’t show a single time when Jesus is inviting someone to go to the synagogue (the Jewish “church meeting” of his day) with him. But the Scriptures do show that the most common invitation Jesus offers to people is to share bread with him. God loves to fellowship with his creation around the dinner table!
Peter Leithart from New St. Andrews College says,
“Especially in Jesus’ teaching, the renewed and fulfilled creation that is the kingdom of God takes the specific form of a feast. Jesus used the image of the feast more than any other to describe the reality of his kingdom” (Peter J. Leithart, Blessed are the Hungry, Moscow, ID: Canonpress, 2000, p. 162).
Why is feasting so important to Jesus?
As Leithart explains, the book of Revelation shows that,
“In short, this is the way the world ends: with neither bang nor whimper but with the laughter of the wedding feast” (Leithart, p. 163).
Why a feast? Well, think what happens there:
- People who don’t get along with each other have to reconcile. Have you ever tried to eat with someone that you don’t get along with? Either you won’t be able to eat together or you will begin to overcome your differences.
- People find a “true home” (Koenig, p. 43)—somewhere where they belong, fit in, have friends. Have you ever had to eat alone, like at school or in an airport restaurant? What would it have been like to have been called over to someone else’s table?
- People who have nothing become full through a sumptuous meal—one of the best they’ve ever had—all provided for by the host.
- People come to know God as a table companion and other humans as God’s guests, fellowshipping in his name and for his purpose.
Reconciliation. Belonging. Provision. Fellowship with God and humanity. What else does the human being need? What could give a better “taste” of the new heavens and the new earth than a feast like the ones that Jesus provided?
Now, here’s what I want to challenge you with today. Identify one “feast” in Scripture (other than this one!). Identify who is invited, who attends, and what happens there. Then comment on this blog by answering this question:
What does God want us to know about himself through this feast?