A Teaching On God's Foreknowledge
October 10, 2020 Pastor: Rev. George Fyler
Verse: Matthew 24:1–24:2
Matthew 22:1-14 ~ Called/Chosen/Elected/Saved 19th Pentecost, Proper 23-A
Christ Lutheran Church, Cleveland, OH – 10/11/2020
And again, Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” Matthew 22:1-2
In the name of the Father and of the (X) Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear beloved of the Lord:
Today’s Gospel continues the conversation that began Holy Week in Jerusalem’s Temple when the high priests and elders asked Jesus about His authority (i.e., His authority to command and judge as well as to forgive and bless). (Matt. 21:23ff) Jesus spoke not to something they said, but to what they were thinking. Though they harbored murderous thoughts and conclusions about God’s promised savior, Jesus taught another parable about the kingdom of God. This time, the parable compares “the kingdom of heaven to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” Note, the comparison is with “the king;” his desire, his actions and his decisions concerning those he invites or calls to the wedding feast.
The difference here with our wedding traditions is the emphasis on the provisions the king makes for his guests. To be “called” to royal wedding festivities means you have been chosen from the many due to the king’s royal grace and mercy bestowed upon you.
If we want to think or speak correctly and usefully about eternal election, or the predestination or the calling of God’s children to eternal life, we should make it our custom to avoid speculating about God’s bare, secret, concealed, mysterious foreknowledge. Instead, we should think or speak about how God’s counsel, purpose, and call in Christ Jesus—who is the true Book of Life—is revealed to us through the Word. In other words, the entire teaching about God’s purpose, counsel, will, and call belongs to our redemption, justification, and salvation. They should be treated together the way Paul treats them and has explained this article (Romans 8:29–30; Ephesians 1:4–10) and as Christ treated it in this parable of Matthew 22:1–14.
This parable points the listener’s attention to the relationship between the host and the invitees, that is, between God and sinners. Few receive the Word of invitation and follow it. Most despise the Word and will not come to the wedding (Matt 22:3–6). The cause for this contempt for the Word is not God’s foreknowledge, but the perverse human will. The human will rejects or perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Spirit, which God offers it through the call. It resists the Holy Spirit, who wants to be effective, and who works through the Word, as Christ says: “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matt 23:37).
We are familiar with Old Testament accounts of the many times God sent the prophets to his chosen people with invitations that his people rejected. In the N.T. we learn of the martyrdoms of the original apostles — only John died of old age. We wonder at such cruelty and condemn it. It is quite easy to point a finger of condemnation at people who lived long ago and far away, but what about you and me.
You are gathered in the King’s wedding hall right now. The smallest chapel … the largest cathedral … they are places where God comes to be with his people. This is the place of the wedding feast of the lamb that John described in Revelation. “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord, our God the Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Rev 19:6–9)
The man who brazenly appeared without the king’s wedding garment is a warning to you and me today. The king had him removed and condemned into the outer darkness. But not so for those dressed for the feast, they enjoyed eternal light and glory.
What garment do we wear? God wants to remove from us the filthy fashion of sin and clothe us in heavenly style … the robes of Christ’s righteousness. Hear the words that the Lord gave to Isaiah. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)
The righteousness of Christ is an expensive fabric. Jesus bought this unique cloth with His holy, precious blood, and His innocent suffering and death. When Jesus shed His precious blood on the cross, He washed away the filth of sin and covered the elect with the righteousness of His holy life. The righteousness of Jesus Christ is the only clothing that is elegant enough for eternal life. It is the only fabric that the called can wear to the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Sadly, Jesus teaches that there are those who reject the cloak of heaven. Jesus says that there will always be some in the banquet hall of heaven who insist on wearing their own clothes … their clothes of arrogance, narcissism, self-righteousness, materialism, hatred, and so forth. The old sinful man insists that he is good enough. He has no sin. He does not need the heavenly robe of the righteousness of Christ. His style is fine. “Besides,” the old sinful nature will say, “A loving god doesn’t really send people to hell.”
But Jesus tells it differently. The party crasher may have been able to fool the servants, but the servants are not the ultimate judge. We must all stand before almighty God. There is but one verdict for those who trust themselves and refuse the clothing of the righteousness of Christ. “Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matt 22:13) Those who reject Christ, reject salvation. Those who in any way depend on their own efforts for even the smallest fraction of their salvation will meet the king and He will order them out of the wedding hall.
The king said to his servants, “Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.” (Matt 22:8–9) It is a different story for these. The Holy Spirit works through His precious gifts to bring them to the wedding hall and washes away all their sins. He covers them with the righteousness of Christ … the righteousness earned on the cross. The day will come when they, like Christ, will rise from the dead and enter the wedding feast of the Lamb. There they will receive the fulfillment of today’s Old Testament lesson:
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.” (Isa 25:6–8) They will rejoice at the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb.
Today the feast is set before you. We are standing in the banquet hall. This is the foretaste of the feast to come. Everyone who hears and believes the Word of salvation is invited — “called.” Each of you has been clothed with the wedding garment, for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. You are “Called and chosen!” Take care to wear the garment of salvation. Let the good news of the gift of forgiveness and of the love of God for you guide your thoughts, humble your hearts, and shape your actions. Your sins have been forgiven because of Jesus. Repent and believe. Examine yourselves daily, whether you are in the faith, and cling to Christ in His Word and in His Sacrament. “For many are called” — all of humanity, in fact, — “but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14) Stand fast as one who is “called and chosen and God’s Will — will be done. AMEN.
In the name of the Father and of the (X) Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen