Episode #56 - "The Edge of Town” Matthew 22: 1-14
Introductory Image - Late phone call offering an invitation to travel to an event the next day
Moving Beyond the Image - What are the barriers to going to something big?
Scripture passage - Matthew 22: 1-14 - Common English Bible
Jesus responded by speaking again in parables: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding party for his son. 3 He sent his servants to call those invited to the wedding party. But they didn’t want to come. 4 Again he sent other servants and said to them, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look, the meal is all prepared. I’ve butchered the oxen and the fattened cattle. Now everything’s ready. Come to the wedding party!” ’ 5 But they paid no attention and went away—some to their fields, others to their businesses. 6 The rest of them grabbed his servants, abused them, and killed them.
7 “The king was angry. He sent his soldiers to destroy those murderers and set their city on fire. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding party is prepared, but those who were invited weren’t worthy. 9 Therefore, go to the roads on the edge of town and invite everyone you find to the wedding party.’
10 “Then those servants went to the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding party was full of guests. 11 Now when the king came in and saw the guests, he spotted a man who wasn’t wearing wedding clothes. 12 He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But he was speechless.13 Then the king said to his servants, ‘Tie his hands and feet and throw him out into the farthest darkness. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.’
14 “Many people are invited, but few people are chosen.”
Three Points of Discussion
Quote #1 - Notice that when the slaves go out for the second set of guests, they gather up “all whom they found, the good and the bad.” Not only the “nice” people are invited; so are the despicable. Matthew’s parable of the Dragnet comes to mind (13:47–50). Everyone is worthy of an invitation. The invitation is scandalously broad. In fact, there are only two ways to end up on the outside of this party: either you disregarded the invitation completely; or you imagined an invitation this broad could not be worth much, so you stumbled in still dressed for the gym, in case the party was a bore. Sally Brown - Feasting on the Gospels--Matthew, Volume 2: A Feasting on the Word Commentary (Kindle Locations 6538-6544). Westminster John Knox Press.
Questions for Discussion: When have you felt out of place in a social gathering? What were the factors? When have you felt uncomfortable in a crowd? The people gathered have come from all over and they are likely not accustomed to social norms. But why does Jesus so often gravitate towards such a crowd? Why do they gravitate to him?
Quote #2 - In the parable of the Two Sons (21:28–32), the ethical imperative is to embrace repentance and change. Here is the same imperative, evocatively portrayed as a wedding garment—a symbol for the Christian life. The image of clothing is employed at other places in the New Testament (see Col. 3:12; Eph. 4:24; Gal. 3:27), where the metaphor refers to outward evidence of the inward transformation that occurs when a person is joined to Christ through baptism. - David Lewicki - Feasting on the Gospels--Matthew, Volume 2: A Feasting on the Word Commentary (Kindle Locations 6538-6544). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
Questions for Discussion: The fact that the man who didn’t expect to go is thrown out for his choice of garment is quite strange. Commentators like David above suggest even we must respond to amazing opportunities by truly taking advantage and jumping in with both feet. People rarely understood the images Jesus shared and they were misinterpreted as often as they were understood. Are you buying or selling this explanation of the garment? why?
Quote #3 - For Matthew, ethics are paramount. If a person receives unmerited grace and does not respond with humility, compassion, kindness, and gratitude, that person is judged just as those who begged off the initial invitation. In truth, it may be that an ungrateful life is its own judgment—an “outer darkness” that is desperately lonely and devoid of joy. - David Lewicki - Feasting on the Gospels--Matthew, Volume 2: A Feasting on the Word Commentary (Kindle Locations 6538-6544). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
Questions for Discussion: No one can tolerate someone who acts entitled on a special occasion. Consider/Describe ways you have said thank you for a wonderful invitation. How were you invited to a faith community and how has that impacted your ability to exhibit humility, compassion, kindness, and gratitude?
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