May 31, 2021

Wedding crashers

Wedding crashers

Jesus tells a parable about a king bouncing someone from a wedding. What grievous crime does this commit? And what does it have to do with us? Pastor Nicole shares a message from Matthew 22.

Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
31 Bluebird Lane, Greensburg, KY 42743

Christian Podcaster Association

Woman Behind The Pulpit Podcast
If you enjoyed Pastor Nicole's message on this week's episode, check out her weekly podcast.


**Not a word for transcript, but the sermon manuscript**

WEDDING CRASHERS by Nicole Barnett

Please open your Bibles to Matthew 22!

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of volunteering at the merch table at the TobyMac concert in Summersville. It was a very fun experience and I got to hear a lot of interesting stories about what occurred backstage before and after the concerts on their tour, but there was one thing that I found kind of funny as the night wore on. As I was working the table, people would ask me questions about what it was like to work with Toby or when his next album was going to be released. They assumed that, because I was working at this concert, I was privy to some inside knowledge—because they assumed that I interacted with Toby personally. 
But there was one thing that set me, as a volunteer, apart from the rest of the people working the concert. What was that thing? It was this big ol tag that the crew wore which said something like “CREW: Backstage Access”
That tag set them apart from me. While I was wearing a TobyMac shirt, masked up like the rest of the crew, and stood behind the table running the card-reader, no matter how much I would have loved to be a part of the crew backstage, the absence of that tag declared that I was not “one of them” – and regardless of how many people thought I knew Toby, the fact that I lacked that pass would make sure I would not get the opportunity to meet him. 

Today, as we open up God’s Word, we will discuss another story about someone who, although being invited and present for an event, showed by his lack of a specific item, that he was unworthy to really be a part of it. 
MATTHEW 22:1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet. 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet. 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so 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 a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ and he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Now, just to remind you about verse 1, this is a parable of Jesus. Does anyone remember what a parable is?

A parable is an “Earthly story with a Heavenly meaning.”

But in this parable, Jesus speaks about a man who was not wearing a wedding robe. And with the fact that this is a parable in mind, 
the question we are going to be asking today is: What are you wearing?
But before we get into answering that question, I do feel that it is important to look at the earlier parts of the parable—and explain them a bit. There is an element of irony in this passage as Jesus is speaking to the Jewish people all while telling them that they are the invited guests who refused to come—they were known to be God’s chosen people. They were the ones with whom God had made a Covenant. But when God sent his servants—they were ignored at best… but in reality, they were often mistreated or murdered. 
Isaiah – Sawed in two
Jeremiah – Stoned to death
Ezekiel – execution 
Those who were invited rejected the invitation of the father of the groom—the nation of Israel had rejected the covenant they had with God—and they were going to face the consequences—all while watching God extend the invitation to “all whom they found, both good and bad”
Both good and bad…
It is far too often the tendency to place a limit upon the grace of God. The nation of Israel was guilty of this—and so is the Church. 
We are fine when the grace of God is extended to the “good” gentiles—the people who try to obey the laws and treat others well. We are totally okay with those who are chartiable being accepted into the body of Christ. We are even okay with the people who aren’t all that great—as long as they aren’t that bad. But we don’t want to accept the fact that God has extended the invitation to the bad as well.
To the liars
The cheaters
The thieves
The users
The abusers
We each have a line we refuse to believe that God will cross.
But, I am here to tell you right now:
That the moment Jesus was nailed to the Cross, every single line was crossed by his Grace. ALL ARE INVITED!
So, STOP trying to guard door to the kingdom of God! 
So, the all were invited—and the wedding hall was full! 
11 “But When the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ and he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Now, this may seem like a bit of an extreme reaction—after all, it is JUST a piece of clothing. 
But the wedding robe is extremely significant here. 
You see, it was customary during that time for the father of the groom to supply wedding garments to the guests. This insured that the invited guests would be able to celebrate the happiness of the groom without regard to the status of others. During the wedding feast the guests were able to celebrate as equals and as family instead of viewing the other guests as greater or lesser than themselves. 
The fact that this man had not garbed himself in the wedding attire that had been provided for him was not due to his lack of a wedding robe. The father of the groom would have provided the robe for him—so the mere fact that this man had neglected to put on the robe showed his lack of respect for the wedding party. Yes, he had accepted the invitation, but he still disrespected his hosts by not dressing for the event. 
Now, the passage does not to say specifically if the man was dressed in rags or in wealth—it really could have been either. But regardless of what their clothing was, they refused to wear the garments given by the groom’s father because they believed their own attire was “good enough.”

Now what does this mean for us?

When we accepted the invitation—when we accepted God’s grace and forgiveness—we were not only given an invitation, we were also given the proper “attire”

Jesus says, in Matthew 5:48: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.”

Now, that is not to say that we are to be perfect as we view perfection. We are, after all, flawed humans who are prone to making mistakes. But when Jesus commanded us to be perfect, his command was for us to be perfect reflections of our perfect heavenly father. 
But far too many of us look at ourselves and think: This is good enough. I’ve entered into the Kingdom of God, but I really don’t need to change. I know that God has forgiven me and I know that he has enabled me to be able to reflect his image in the world, but who I am is who I am, and this is good enough. I don’t need to change as long as I am honest about who I am. So I am just going to stick with “what I am wearing.”
Far too many of us would rather stay in our stinky, smelly rags called sin than allow God to clothe us in his holiness—his perfect love, his perfect grace, his perfect truth. We think that God doesn’t really require us to be holy as long as we are honest in our failings—but if we insist on living like that, we are really missing out on what the invitation to the wedding really means. 

But there is another group of us who thinks that, although God has provided us with the “proper attire,” we would rather make and provide our own. We think that if we do this or stop doing that, we will attain righteousness apart from the clothing God has already provided. We flaunt our self-righteousness as a status symbol and, while we have accepted the invitation to the wedding, we already believed ourselves worthy to be in attendance and, therefore, we don’t need the clothes the father has provided. We can attain salvation and righteousness ourselves. Who needs the father? 
Instead of acknowledging our humanness, we arrogantly parade our phony-perfection and counterfeit-righteousness in front of the authenticity expert. He has given us the wedding robe, and we are wearing an imitation at best. Because we are “good enough” without the clothes provided. We will just wear our own self-made righteousness. 

But the fact is that both groups are seriously mistaken—because the holiness found in Christ IS REQUIRED. 
We are not given the option—we cannot remain unrighteous—unholy—and neither can we provide our own self-made righteousness. When we accept God’s grace and forgiveness of our sins, we must also allow God to clothe us with HIS righteousness.

When we accept God’s grace forgiveness, we need to also allow him to change us from who we are to who he has made us to be. 
This means that we allow God to take away our sinful attitudes, hateful behaviors, bitter thoughts, jealous feelings, impure mindsets—we allow him to take those away and give us a new heart and a new mind. 

We cannot treat Holiness as an optional extra. Because it isn’t one. Holiness is the Wedding robe or the “Backstage Access.” 
Yes, the invitation has been extended to everyone—
But without being clothed in the righteousness—the holiness—of Christ, we are nothing more than wedding crashers. 
For many are called, but few are chosen.

So, the question today was: What are you wearing?

Are you dressed in dirty, sinful rags—believing that you are “good enough” as long as you are being transparent?
Are you dressed in self-righteous, counterfeit robes—thinking that righteousness is something that you can make yourself?
Or are you clothed in the righteousness of Christ—gladly accepting the freedom from sin and surrendering your life to God to change you and mold you more into his image?
Today, as we get ready to close, I invite you to think about what “wedding clothes” you have been wearing. 
Are you dressed for the wedding? Have you surrendered everything over to God to change and transform you?

Or are you still wearing your own stuff. Have you convinced yourself that you’re good enough on your own? Are you ready to surrender everything over to God and put on his righteousness? Are you ready for God to transform you?

If so, come lay your dirty rags or counterfeit robes on the altar—lay down your sinful habits and your self-righteousness, and allow God to clothe you in holiness. 

Maybe, you haven’t even accepted the invitation! Maybe you didn’t know that forgiveness and grace were waiting for you. If that is you, I would like to invite you to come up to the altar. Come up and accept that forgiveness and invite God in to transform your heart and mind!