The Twentieth Sunday After Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time
The Hymn #387:1-4 by Luther, Nun freut euch
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual Eph 5:15-21
The Gospel Luke Matthew 22:1-14
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #370 Magdalen
Clothed in His Righteousness Alone
The Hymn #304 by Loy, St. Crispin
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #202 Sei du mir
KJV Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
KJV Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
Twentieth Sunday After Trinity, The Collects Of Veit Dietrich
Lord God, heavenly Father: We thank Thee, that of Thy great mercy Thou hast called us by Thy holy word to the blessed marriage-feast of Thy Son, and through Him dost forgive us all our sins; but, being daily beset by temptation, offense, and danger, and being weak in ourselves and given to sin, we beseech Thee graciously to protect us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we fall not; and if we fall and defile our wedding-garment, with which Thy Son hath clothed us, graciously help us again and lead us to repentance, that we fall not forever; preserve in us a constant faith in Thy grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Clothed in His Righteousness Alone
Matthew 22: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
Often the Epistle and Gospel travel separately. I read one tradition that the Epistle was read to the communing Christians on one side and the Gospel to potential converts on the other side of the gathering place. I doubt whether this was always true, but it paints an interesting picture.
In this case we have an Epistle and a Gospel that complement each other perfectly.
Believers should walk circumspectly – watch how they behave.
They should redeem the time because the days are evil.
They should not be unwise but understand the will of the Lord.
They should not be drunk with wine, which lends itself to excess.
I read how wine was sold in Medieval churches. At Chartre, the wine merchant said, “This wine will go to your head like a squirrel up a tree.” Intoxicants have great appeal. In contrast…
Be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Here is where the Pentecostals may start waving their arms and testifying, but this passage is not Pentecostal but Means of Grace.
How is one filled with the Holy Spirit instead of the excess of wine?
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is equated with or explained by speaking in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. These three expressions have one thing in common – the Word of God. The Holy Spirit always accompanies the faithful teaching of the Word and never accompanies the word of man.
Man’s wisdom is good for practical, useful information, but
KJV 1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (That is why an unbeliever cannot be argued, bullied, or sold on the Kingdom of God.)
Paul’s spiritual advice was aimed at believers so their lives would be filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit rather than the spirit of the age.
The Parable of the Wedding Feast explains how the Word invites people, how many refuse to listen to the Gospel and harden their hearts against the Word.
The King is God the Father, who sends out invitations to the wedding feast of His Son. The skeptics always say that the Bible is full of contradictions, but Jesus spoke of Himself as the Groom in other places.
John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Bridegroom:
KJV John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
The same image is found in Paul:
KJV Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ (bridegroom) also loved the church (the bride), and gave himself for it;
In this parable, the servants are sent the first time and people do not come (verse 3).
The second invitation is far more detailed and the results are violent;
4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
This clearly portrays the prophets of the Old Testament, who preached the coming of Christ but died at the hands of their own people – unless they were false prophets. The false prophets were popular.
KJV Jeremiah 23:21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
KJV Jeremiah 23:32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
People think that God lets these things happen without divine justice being brought down on the criminals. But Israel was occupied by many different foreign powers, then Greece and Rome, with only brief independence. Finally Israel ceased altogether within a century of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jews could not even visit Jerusalem, which was destroyed twice, first after the Zealot rebellion, then a few decades later after the Bar Kochba revolt.
Matthew 15:7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
The Bar-Kokhba Revolt
“Following the battle of Bethar, there were a few small skirmishes in the Judean Desert Caves, but the war was essentially over and Judean independence was lost. The Romans plowed Jerusalem with a yoke of oxen. Jews were sold into slavery and many were transported to Egypt. Judean settlements were not rebuilt. Jerusalem was turned into a pagan city called Aelia Capitolina and the Jews were forbidden to live there. They were permitted to enter only on the 9th of Av to mourn their losses in the revolt. Hadrian changed the country’s name from Judea to Syria Palestina.
In the years following the revolt, Hadrian discriminated against all Judeo-Christian sects, but the worst persecution was directed against religious Jews. He made anti-religious decrees forbidding Torah study, Sabbath observance, circumcision, Jewish courts, meeting in synagogues and other ritual practices. Many Jews assimilated and many sages and prominent men were martyred including Rabbi Akiva and the rest of the Asara Harugei Malchut (ten martyrs). This age of persecution lasted throughout the remainder of Hadrian’s reign, until 138 C.E.” (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/revolt1.html)
Matthew 15:8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
This is the beginning of the Church, when the dregs of society crowded to hear the message of forgiveness and eternal salvation. Some who believed in Christ were influential and powerful, but the vast majority were slaves, criminals, prostitutes, and others at the bottom of society.
The surprise ending has the King coming to the feast and throwing someone into eternal torment for wearing the wrong garment. Apparently, it was not Casual Friday:
11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
This wedding garment can only be the righteousness of Christ. The image connects Paul’s letter to the Galatians with this passage.
KJV Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on [literally – be robed in] the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
KJV Galatians 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on [the robe of] Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
The baptismal robe reminded the new Christian that God would see the righteousness of Christ rather than the failings of man, since the believer joined the Kingdom as a brother of Christ, redeemed by Christ. We are children by faith in Christ Jesus. Faith is commended throughout the Bible because trust in the Savior is good.
The opposite (wearing the wrong robe) is the person trusting in his own righteousness, his own works and merits.
Even today, with centuries of Christian preaching and teaching, many respond exactly wrong when asked about sound doctrine. Their responses, based on my experience, are:
1. Do you know who my father is?
2. Do you realize what I have done?
Now, with so many billions of dollars disappearing into thin air, people can look at the treasures that matter. Everything changes so quickly. One day, a person says, “Look at how much I made in real estate. I have three homes.” Two years later, people say, “You are in real estate? You poor thing?! Three homes? Oh no!”
We can find many different points being taught in this vivid parable. One dominant theme is the constant preaching of the Word. The King makes three efforts to invite people to the feast.
Since this is a wedding feast, we imagine how appealing this should be. Who would turn down a wedding invitation? They are enjoyable gatherings of friends and families.
Calling – inviting: those are synonymous. The Greek verb is the root for phone, so during tutoring, I always insisted on the translation being, “Jesus phoned the disciples.” That sounds silly but it conveys several things at once. One is the spoken Word of God. Almost all evangelism takes place through speaking the Gospel to someone. Another is close connection between common (Koine) Greek and our English words of today.
Many are phoned, but few are elect (chosen). The Gospel is thinly sown, as Luther says, not because people are good or bad, but because few remain faithful to the Word. They do not guard the spiritual treasures of the Gospel. They trample it down, let weeds grow around it, or vamoose when things get tough. The Bible only knows of two groups – believers and unbelievers. As I have said many times before, people move from faith to unbelief in tiny stages. Many “successful” ministers have shown that they were atheists at the peak of their fame, seconds before the great tumble into ignominy. Some are rescued by their equally deceitful pals, but the final scene is never good for someone who has turned against the Word.
To counteract our tendency to drift away from the Gospel, Jesus admonishes us to remain with the True Vine and bear fruit. Abide in the Word (John 15). Take up the cross and follow Him.
It was easy for prostitutes and pimps to wear the robe of righteousness given to them by Christ. They had nothing else to commend them. They knew they were sinners. The great temptation of today is to knit ourselves a better robe, one made from our good deeds, our own righteousness, our family tree.
The great comfort of this passage is God scouring the highways and byways for people to fill His banquet – the good and the bad. The Apostolic Church was filled with the bad, justified by faith, given a new life through the Gospel. Throughout the New Testament we find the first followers being charged with following that new life, not returning to their life of crime before the invitation came.