Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 22:9b (Holman) ” . . .and invite everyone you find to the
If words have meaning, then our text can only mean we are to share the Gospel with everyone everywhere. We are not to try to determine what their response might be, and then act thereon. We are to invite everyone.
Don’t stop with inviting only one unbeliever. Ever be expanding our invitation lists. The early church initially felt it should reach Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, then the uttermost parts. They had to learn they were to invite all four simultaneously. We are to scatter Gospel seed near, to ones we have invited, and far, to ones we haven’t yet invited, at the same time.
We might be more successful in our outreach if we went further afield to find fresh hearers. Sometimes those near us have heard ad nauseam, while the ones who have not heard would be eager to hear. We need to go further away from our churches, so to speak. The faraway teems with waiting fish.
A paragraph by Pastor David Thomas stopped me in my tracks. I do not agree with it all, but his basic claim is noteworthy. “As a rule, there seems to me a greater probability that those who have never been bidden before will accept the offers of the Gospel, than those who have been often bidden and rejected. The vast majority of those who will be found in heaven at last will be those who accepted the invitation at once. Delay is dangerous in this matter. The first rejection prepares for the second, and so on.”
Some believe in Jesus the first time they hear the Gospel. Others have known of the Gospel their whole lives, but have not repented. Our task is to take responsibility for both groups. Invite everyone everywhere everyday.
Matt. 22:10a So those slaves went out on the roads and gathered
everyone they found, both evil and good.
Slaves went: no excuses, no delays, no disobedience. Sinners came. If “God’s servants go after sinners, sinners come after Christ” (Spurgeon).
The slaves gathered a motley crew, “both evil and good”. This refers to “evil and good” as perceived from our limited human perspective.
Among the responders were the moral and the immoral, the upright and the down and out. All equally need salvation. Devout Greeks who said “We would see Jesus” later came, as did the sexually immoral (1 Cor. 6:11). The dying thief came, as did the Ethiopian eunuch. Even the most wicked and most apathetic must be invited. It is not our job to discriminate unbelievers morally, socially, or any other way. Don’t worry about inviting the wrong people.
Vachel Lindsay’s poem “General William Booth Enters Into Heaven” describes some of those who welcomed him: walking lepers, drabs from the alleyways, drug fiends, vermin-eaten saints with mouldy breath, unwashed legions with the ways of Death. He touched people nobody else cared about.
An evidence of true revival is; different kinds of people are being touched. The immoral and moral, young and old, rich and poor, atheists and seekers. At Gosnell the poor came, as did the base commander, a General.
No ethnic group, no nationality, no social standing, no religious background has priority. Everyone is invited.
There has always been a mix, even within the ranks of the religious. Doeg the murderer and David lived in Saul’s house at the same time. The High Priest Caiaphas and Jesus frequented the same temple simultaneously.
The visible church is like a granary floor, wheat and chaff mingle (MT 3:12); like a field, weeds and grain grow side by side (MT 13:26-27); like a net collecting all kinds, good and bad (MT 13:47); like a house in which the wise and foolish live (MT 25:1); like the Upper Room where 11 true disciples and one traitor eat at the same table. A church is not Heaven.
The Gospel accepts and improves all kinds. It enables the outwardly evil to become good, and makes the good better. We all come as we are, but we do not stay there. Each of us has to be changed, improved, by the Gospel.
Matt. 22:10b The wedding banquet was filled with guests.
Literally, filled with recliners, denoting the customary position at meals. In the end, there were enough guests as would have been necessary to give the Son due honor. Rest assured, at the end of our age, a huge throng will gather round the throne. There will be no disappointment in the number present. In our day it often looks like the forces of darkness are winning. But at the last, God’s will shall be accomplished. His purposes shall be fulfilled.
I do not actively participate in the Calvin/Arminius debate underway in my denomination. When I was young, I studied at length the merits and demerits of free will, foreordination, election, predestination, etc. After exhausting myself, I gave up, feeling I knew little more than when I started.
From that intense study, two things stuck with me. One, I saw that groups of believers who go too far toward predestination finally fade out of existence. My Great Great Grandfather was baptized as a hardshell Baptist. Few of this ilk remain. Hyper-Calvinism carries in itself its own seeds of destruction.
Two, for my sanity, I have tried to balance the two. In conversations about life before salvation, emphasize free will. Push for everyone to come. Whosoever will may come. The banquet in our parable was filled only with people the servants went to find (v. 9) indiscriminately and found (v. 10).
After salvation, as we look back on our conversion, the emphasis should become sovereignty. God sought me. God chose me. God secures me. Holding these two doctrines in tandem, I have inner peace about them.
Whatever our position on this issue, this we can agree on. For sure the crowd that gathered was much happier than the original invitees would have been. These attenders were more grateful than those who refused to come.
Having people there who knew they were undeserving would have made the party a lot more fun. They would have more appreciation and more excitement. They knew the King did not owe them anything. They had no claim on Him, and nothing to look at except the King’s generous hospitality.
The respectable would have been lukewarm, yawning; the unworthy never got over it. They would have been standing on their chairs cheering.
When Andrew Jackson was elected President, many saw it as a long awaited victory of common people over aristocrats in the USA. After his inauguration, his supporters turned into a wild rabble that ransacked the White House. They broke furniture, smashed china, and stood on chairs with muddy boots. It was terrible. It was wonderful. It was scandalous. It was historic. The common people felt they had finally received their due.
Maybe this is a bit of an image of what the banquet in our parable would have looked like. No one had ever thought of inviting these unworthy ones to come. The invitees would have been surprised out of their wits when the King asked them to attend His Son’s banquet. I’m sure they were as shocked as Gentiles would later be when they learned they were included.
Where are those we could turn into happy partygoers, ones who never expect to be invited? Have we lately surprised anyone, an unlikely attender? Have we surprised ourselves by asking an unlikely attendee? At Cornelius’ house, Peter was surprised. The 12 were shocked to see a Samaritan woman.
These attenders would have been happy. God would have been too. The king could not stand to be alone. The fact God is Trinity should convince us relationships are vital to Him. God, in His very inmost essence, is a relationship. He has always felt the need to share with us His joy and His very self. He yearns to interact with us. We spend too much time worrying about God not wanting us. Relationship is the very thing He craves from us.