Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Openers

1.      *Discussion* Why does God have such a bad reputation?

2.      *Story* Tell the parable using modern terms. (substitute president for “king” and secret service agent for “servants”)

3.      *Activity* Watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwmZiZBTtsw                                                       Discuss how the world views Christians and how Christians misrepresent the character of God.

4.      *Illustration* Show up to cell group dressed like a hobo – rattiest clothes you can find, rub dirt on your face, go shoeless, rub sardines in your armpits – then ask them to go to a nice event with you (XA follies, a nice restaurant, to church, a wedding)

Foundations  Matthew 22:1-14

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.”

Context/Back Story

In this parable Jesus is describing God’s invitation to the Kingdom of Heaven by comparing it to a King’s invitation to a wedding banquet for his son. The bride is never mentioned because in Jewish tradition that bride was kept separate from groom through the wedding ceremony. If a king is having a banquet for his son, the banquet would last many days and to refuse an invitation would be unthinkable because the honor of just being invited. The king shows his grace by issuing another invitation and elaborating on the bounty of the celebration. A second refusal shows even more dishonor to the king and to kill the servants shows that the invitees are offended by being invited. The king then does another unthinkable thing by inviting people off the street to such a prestigious event. In Jewish tradition the wedding party provides garments for the guest to wear, so if one comes without the proper garments it means he or she refused to put on the garment upon entering the banquet. Jesus makes His man point in His last statement “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” He is saying that many are invited to be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven but few actually accept the invitation. God chooses to have relationship with the people who accept the invitation to be a part of His Kingdom.

If treated as an allegory this parable can take us through masses of theology, so let’s focus on the characters in the story and their relationships with the king/God:

  1. Servants
  2. Invited Guest who refused the invitation
  3. Invited Guest who accepted the invitation
  4. Invited Guest who accepted the invitation but refused to wear the wedding garment

1.      Servants

          a.      Servants typically have multiple tasks, however, according to this parable, the servants of the King only have one role to play – deliver the message/invitation.

                      i.      How many other things do we preoccupy our time with besides delivering the message/Gospel to      world? Matt. 28:19-20

Human struggle

There are so many things in this world that are distracting.

Application

Consecrate yourself to the cause of Christ. Identify things that distract you and sacrifice those things.

  1.  The servants loved the king enough to die delivering the message he sent them to deliver. They feared dishonoring him with disobedience morethan they feared their own death    Do you fear the world more than you than fear the Lord? Deuteronomy 6:1
  2.  Why is it easier to give in to the temptations of Satan than to respond with obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Ephesians 2:3, James 1:14

Human struggle

How can we change our desires to align with God’s desires and truly become his servants? Psalm 37:4

Application

What does it mean to “delight yourself in the Lord?” (find your happiness in Him) Identify things in your life that bring you joy, take time not doing those things and spend that time in prayer, reading your bible, praising the Lord. Fast things that make you happy to initiate finding your happiness in Him instead in things of this world.

1. The king avenged the death of his servants.     Do you feel like you have to get even with people who wrong you? Who are the people in your life you are harboring bitterness/un-forgiveness against? Nahum 1:2-3

Human struggle

It’s hard not to fight your own battles and truly love someone who has wronged you.

Application

Do a forgiveness check list. Think back through all your relationships and access any feelings of hurt or bitterness. Spend time in prayer for the people that have wronged you: Pray blessings over them, talk to them, encourage them and show them kindness.

2.      Invited guest who refuse the invitation.   Why would anyone refuse an invitation to such a prestigious event? What reasons would/did prevent you from accepting? (Substitute Kingdom of Heaven for prestigious event if needed.)     Some possible answers to help facilitate discussion..

     They refused to acknowledge king/president as their king/president.

     They feel unworthy to attend.

    They have a problem with the king/president and his leadership.

Human struggle

There are so many things in this world that can cause us to doubt Gods existence.

Application

It’s okay to have doubts. You can use your doubts to strengthen your faith by investigating scripture yourself, then taking these doubts to God in prayer.

Human struggle

We could never feel worthy to be in God’s presence.

Application

Go over EE stressing the Birthday and Swimming to Hawaii analogies

Why would anyone mistreat or kill someone delivering an invitation to such joyful celebration? (Substitute Kingdom of Heaven for joyful celebration if needed.)

Whatever the reason they obviously didn’t understand that the invitation was good news. (Someone hasn’t effectively heard the Gospel unless they understand that it is good news for them. Christopher Gornold-Smith SALT 2011)

Human struggle

Christianity is often viewed as “a list of dont’s” so the life and fulfillment that comes from being a part of the Kingdom of Heaven is overlooked.

Application

John 10:10, John 6:63, John 4:31-34

Spend some time in the word and doing the work of the Lord to see the life and fulfillment that comes to

Invited Guest who accepted the invitation- How would you feel if you were a replacement guest?   Use this as an opportunity to humble yourself. Open up about your past or what you’re struggling with and encourage others to do the same.

Human struggle

Sometimes we become prideful about being a part of the Kingdom of God.

Application

You use openness to humble yourself and remind you of His grace. Pray that God will reveal to you any areas of your life that you are prideful about.

Invited Guest who accepted the invitation but refused the wear the wedding garment.  Would you attend a wedding in nasty clothes?    If they provided nice clothes at the entrance to the wedding, why would anyone refuse to wear the nice clothes provided?

 They want to be a part of the celebration but don’t want to appear a part of it. They obviously don’t want to be associated with the king and his party but they want the grace and bounty provided by the king. (Salvation without Lordship)

Human struggle

Yeah that sounds great but now I have to follow the rules.

Application

Go over EE stressing the life guard analogy.    Maybe they are ashamed or embarrassed to be a part of the celebration. Matt. 10:33

– When have you been embarrassed to be a Christian?

Human struggle

This describes the “Secret Agent Christian” who is embarrassed of his faith.

Application

Pray for boldness and God will provide. Acts 4:31 Be intentional invite your worldly friends to do something with your Christian friends. Break any friendships that tempt you to return to past sins.

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