Let’s pick apart a parable together.
Our modern American church culture is obsessed with the big and flashy. This “bigger is better” mindset usually cuts right against the Kingdom way of Jesus that celebrates small looking things that appear unimpressive- – like mustard seeds. But one thing Jesus and our churches both can unite around is throwing a big party! We love big parties. God loves big parties.
So, let’s explore the parable of the Wedding Banquet.
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…” (Matt 22:1-14)
As a child, for me church = boredom. I didn’t mind church. I didn’t hate church. I didn’t complain about going to church. I was never hurt by the church. I made the most of it. I just never got goosebumps and lost sleep the night before because I was so excited to go to church.
How about you? If you were completely honest, what image might you use to describe your idea of church. (Yes, Jesus is talking about ‘the kingdom’, not church; but I’m assuming that church is what happens when a bunch of Kingdom people get together to talk about and do kingdom stuff.)
I can imagine many people I’ve talked to — especially teenagers — beginning their own parable with something like:
“The kingdom of God / going to church is like a dentist appointment…..it’s good for your but it never feels good.”
“The kingdom of God / going to church is like visiting your great-grandma at the nursing home….it’s the decent thing to do but you’d rather be doing something else.”
“The kingdom of God / going to church is like pulling off a band-aid….it’s best to get it over with quickly and not linger too long.”
When Jesus wanted to describe the Kingdom of God, what image did he use? He compared God’s Kingdom activity in the world with a father throwing a huge bash for his son. Yes, God is into throwing big parties. Can you imagine a God-sized party on a God-sized budget? That’s a party you don’t want to miss.
Jesus had a reputation for being kind of a party-animal. His first miracle was replenishing the alcohol supply at a wedding bash in Cana. Elsewhere Jesus says of himself, “The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners'” (Luke 7:34). One time he and his disciples were questioned why they don’t fast, and Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not” (Matt 9:15). His arrival on the scene of history kicked off a time of great celebration, not gloom and doom.
So, church, when we gather together on Sunday to worship, does it have a party-feel to it? Does it make you want to dance and invite all your friends? Or, does our worship feel more serious and somber? More like a funeral or session of the congress? Our savior has come, our sins have been forgiven, Satan is defeated, death has been conquered, and the tomb is empty! Let’s party!
Lord Jesus, help us to recapture the party-spirit in our fellowship together. We have so much to sing and dance about because of your great love and favor toward us! Thanks for inviting us to your party! Amen.