And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
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.’ But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise….”
This parable, I believe, depicts for us a time that we are now in, a time when the final invitations to the Great Feast of Ingathering are being given, but when most of those who were bidden to come .. will not come.
In order that we better understand what is being said to us through this parable, we should understand that in the time that Jesus told this it was usual for more than one invitation to be sent out to people to announce a party or a celebration, one to announce the party and to request a response, and another sent out at a later time to let those who said that they would come to the party know that the time for the celebration has come.
I propose to you, beloved, that this first invitation here bespeaks of the time of our spiritual regeneration, of the time when we were justified by faith and we said, “I will follow you anywhere, Jesus.” This is the time when the Lord then said to us, “Will you then lay down your life for Me? Please count the cost of discipleship. It will cost you everything, you know? Will you really lay everything down and submit yourself fully to Me so that in the day of the Great Wedding Banquet, the Great Feast of Ingathering, you will be able to sit with Me and feast at My Table?”
Most all of us then said, “Yes, of course, Lord. I will do anything for you.”
In this way we gave our answer to the first invitation.
In Jesus’ day, there was usually a second invitation that was also sent out though, this to let all those who said that they would come to the banquet know that everything was prepared and ready. This is the time that we are in now, beloved ones. We are at the dawn of a new age and are near the time for the Great Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles) which brings the entire church age to an end, and the Lord is now asking all those who said that they would lay down their lives for Him, to really lay down their lives! – to acknowledge Him in ALL of their ways and to put absolutely nothing as a priority above the things of His coming Kingdom.
But, as you can see in the parable, those who promised that they would come to the Feast (in the laying down of their lives as a sacrifice to the Lord) reneged on their promise to the King. It says in the parable that they “made light” of his second invitation and that they went their own ways. We can also see that these “went their ways” because they allowed the things of self to take priority over their promise of going to the banquet. These things of self are mentioned as a “farm” or as “merchandise,” and this certainly speaks of materialism, but in other accounts of this same parable the selfish things are mentioned as things like “wives” or “parents” or careers, etc., (this can even relate to positions of ministry that have become idols, too). The bottom line here is that this depicts for us “Christians” today who have selfish excuses why THEY just can’t live the laid down lives that at one time they told the Lord they would live.
So, as in the parable, the King will let these have their way. In the parable, the king simply said to his servants to go into the highways and the by-ways and invite as many as they could find there to come to his marriage feast.
What this means for us, beloved, is that the Father is letting many Christians today have their way. If they want money or creature comforts, then they can have that. If they desire to make earthy relationships a priority over their commitment to God, then they can do that. If they insist on doing their will and acknowledging Him only on occasion to direct their paths, then they can do that. If they desire to hold onto “their church” or “their ministry” rather than following Jesus all the way to the end of their self-life, then they can do that too, but they will not come into the Father’s Wedding Banquet.
Beloved, I know without a doubt that THIS is why the Father is now sending some of us to the least and the lost in highways and by-ways and the back alleys of New York City, Toronto, and San Francisco. In the day when the Father is giving many Christians over to their lame excuses, He is sending us to poor souls who have been stripped of absolutely everything – to let them know that THEY can come into a place of ruling and reigning in the Kingdom of God, they just need to COME to the Father – and bring all of their hearts with them. Everything else has been made ready by the Father Himself.
Our Father’s Wedding Banquet is going to be full, friends. On that great day of the Feast, many who were considered “the least” of society — even the dregs of the earth, will dine as FIRST-FRUITS unto God and to the Lamb at the Master’s Table. On that day also, many who thought that they were highly favored of the Lord – because of their financial prosperity – or even because of what they thought to be spiritual prosperity, will find themselves cast outside of the Wedding Banquet.
In this way, dear friends, the first will be last, and the last will be first. The ways of the Lord are right and are just — but they are NOT AT ALL like the ways of men.
Let me reinforce a bit what I’m saying here by drawing from another passage of scripture …
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I’ll go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”
An application of this for us today, beloved, is that the “first” son here is a type those who have rejected doing the will of the Father, even have rejected Christ, and have gone the way of the world for a long season. I meet many of these types in my travels. These very often are those who are caught up in drug addiction and/or prostitution. They often are the homeless on our streets. But many of these are now deeply repenting of their sinful lifestyles and are coming to Christ in a very big way. Many of these are now even laboring hard in the Father’s vineyard. Yes, it is awesome to see how some of these are ministering (quite sacrificially) to the needs of others. Sure, many of these have not wanted anything to do with Christ for most of their lives, and many of these are experiencing the ravages of their past sinful lifestyles, but I’ve got to tell you, in their brokenness, quite a few of these are becoming a great expression of God’s love to others, and they are doing things and are helping people in ways that most “Christians” (for some reason) will not. These, beloved, are they who said “I will not go,” but who are now going!
Then on the other hand there is the “second” son, a type of those who have said “Yes, Lord! I’ll follow You anywhere ,and do anything for You!” Many of these have “served the Lord for a long time,” but the truth be known, most of these are not really willing to do the will of the Father. Though these consider themselves to be “the Lord’s elect,” their refusal to lay down their lives in service for the autumn harvest reveals otherwise. These have personal agendas and lifestyles that they do not want interfered with. These have lives lived for self’s sake that they are not willing to lose. These are they, friends, who even today, are making all sorts of excuses why it is impossible for them to live lives totally abandoned to the will and purposes of the Father. By their refusal to live as sacrifices for the benefit and blessing of others, these simply prove that their “Yes, Lord” of yesteryear was a matter of honoring God with their lips, but with hearts that were far from Him. These are they who said, “I will go,” but who are not going.
Now, as Jesus said in Matthew 21, just which of these two sons (groups) actually did the will of the Father? and just which one do you think is going to be rewarded for his obedience?
Ah, beloved, Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said that the first will be last and the last will be first.. I marvel at His ways, don’t you?