Scripture Readings: Exodus 32:1-14 & Matthew 22: 1-14
When the Hebrew people had been held as slaves in Egypt, God had inspired Moses and his brother Aaron to lead the people in a mass escape from slavery. Having escaped, they are now on route to their promised land, but they have years of travel ahead of them before they get there.
When Moses has been gone for forty days, they begin to assume that he’s not coming back. They had a few months of feeling a real connection to God through Moses, but now they assumed that they lost him. To them, God is suddenly feeling very distant again. How are they going to connect to God now without Moses? And so, Aaron set about responding to their need by creating an impressive symbol that would reassure them and give them hope.
In Exodus 32, the Israelites, led by Aaron, create a golden calf to worship while Moses is on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from God. They attempted to make a visible, material god that would lead them. The act of idolatry represents a turning away from God, breaking the covenant they had made with God.
In Exodus, the Israelites face God’s anger and judgment when they turn to idolatry. However, Moses intercedes on their behalf, showing that God is willing to show mercy when there is repentance and intercession. When God calls a person to lead, intercession becomes a part of the call. When Moses interceded and pleaded for God’s mercy, the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Sadly, the world is dark and terrible things keep happening, and people may face God’s anger, but may we be true believers who worship God and God’s servant who intercede for others. Today, may we remember that Moses’ desperate intercession was for the community and that the Lord relented and gave love through the intercession of one person, Moses.
In today’s Gospel reading, the parable of the Wedding Banquet is the last of three parables spoken in the temple to the Jewish religious leaders. Luke’s version of this parable takes place at the house of a Pharisee who has invited Jesus to dinner, and emphasizes the inclusion of “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame” (Luke 14). Matthew’s version, however, continues the theme of judgment found in the previous parable.
Jesus tells a story about a king who prepares a wedding feast for his son but is met with refusal and disrespect from the invited guests. They ignore invitations and mistreat the king’s messengers. In this passage, the king sends out his servants saying, “The party is ready but those I invited were too up themselves to come, so go into the streets and invite everybody you find.”
Accordingly, the king invites other people, good and bad, to the wedding hall. Verse 10 says “the good and the bad” were invited to attend. It is not by our merit but by God’s mercy that we have been saved. But when one of the new guests is found without wedding garments, the person is cast out into the darkness. When the invitees refused to accept the invitation and someone was not prepared for the wedding banquet, the king told them, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” In this parable, the original invitees did not deserve to come.
Here, the unrobed guest does not show the fruits of living as a guest at the banquet of grace. Gospel living begins with the invitation, but it requires a transformed life. Though many have been called, the ones who are to be chosen are those who are believing in Jesus and living in a new way—who have put on life in Christ.
This parable shows the importance of being prepared and faithful to God’s call. It also illustrates the consequences of rejecting His invitation. In Matthew 22, it emphasizes the importance of accepting God’s invitation and being spiritually prepared for His kingdom.
Jesus says the king now moves to plan B or plan C for the wedding banquet. Even when people are too busy to accept God’s invitation or call, there is going to be a party no matter what because God never gives up people for the kingdom of heaven. Jesus will reject those who refuse his invitation into honour and privilege, replacing them with true worshipers restored from sin by his grace.
Exodus 32:1-14 and Matthew 22:1-14 highlight the consequences of turning away from God and failing to be faithful to Him. However, God is merciful and willing to forgive when there is genuine repentance and a turning back to Him. Faithfulness and obedience to God are essential. May we all respond to God’s call faithfully by faithfulness and obedience.
The more frightening the rapidly changing world becomes, the more tightly people cling to the certainty to banish their doubts and insecurities. The promised land is welcoming people, and the party is ready, but many people turn the promised land into just another place of slavery and make other idols to comfort themselves.
Many kinds of idols just like golden calves people made for themselves sometimes seem impressive and comforting and even attractive. But they are unnecessary, and they hold them back from the joyous fullness of life that God has called us to. Many people have the temptation of certainty and make their own idols even though they are unreal or fake.
God offers redemption, forgiveness, salvation, and reward. Exodus 32 and Matthew 22 emphasize the importance of faithfulness and obedience to God. May we let those idols go and respond with faithfulness and obedience to God. Let us let them go and live in the love of Christ.
God’s Grace is freely given by an act of love. Therefore, we are called to live as God’s people, according to God’s will for our lives. To do so is to give honour to the king, to God, and to live in terms of God’s will upon us. The failure to do so is to refuse God’s love and His invitation, God’s choice of us. May we be clothed with Christ rather than ourselves.
Jesus invites us to participate in His party saying, “All is prepared, the time is now, come to the party.” Everything we need will be supplied, there is no charge, it’s all free. All we need is the desire to have a good time and the willingness to come right now. May we respond to God’s invitation for the kingdom of heaven and enjoy the party.
In God’s invitation through Jesus’ life-giving love, may we respond to God by faithfulness and obedience and clothe ourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14). And may we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly and live faithfully before God.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)