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Jan 26 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Sixty-seven – Matthew 22:1-14

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. Matthew 22:10

Jesus envisioned the kingdom of God as a wedding feast and the call of God as an invitation to a party. Through Jesus, God calls us away from our worldly pursuits and to himself and the banquet of his Son. To answer that call is to turn from every distraction and bring our attention fully to God in the present moment. Certainly we have time for this despite our “farms” and our “businesses.”

We would do well to pause at Jesus’ description of the wedding guests who were “both evil and good.” The criterion for them entering the dinning hall was neither moral nor religious, but relational. Guests are not invited to wedding receptions because they are good people, but because of the way they are related to the bride or groom. So in Jesus’ parable, we are invited into a relationship with God without regard to whether we are good or bad when the invitation comes. The worst form of judgmental Christianity is that which bars the entrance to the kingdom to someone who does not seem good enough (Mt. 23:13).

When one of the guests showed up for the reception in street clothes, he was confronted and thrown out. He did not come to the feast for relationship, but for the food and entertainment. The event defines how one must come and appropriate attire. The man’s lack of respect for the host indicates his unwillingness to enter a relationship with him. That the host meant to be in relationship with his guests is evidenced by the fact that he addressed the man as “Friend” and gave him the opportunity to explain himself (v. 12–even Judas was addressed by our Lord as friend, 26:50).

Although the invitation is universal and impartial, there was a selection process to sift out the “few” from the “many” (v. 14). Not all of the many who claim that they prophesied and healed in Jesus’ name, and ate and drank in his presence, will enter the kingdom if the Son does not know them (Mt. 7:21-22; Lk. 13:26-27).

O Jesus, our Savior, at times we shrink back from “the kindness and severity of God,” knowing that we do not deserve His kindness and we cannot survive His severity. Embrace us in the reassurance that if we come to You in humility and sincerity, You will work the transformation that brings us into the adoption of sons and daughters of  God. Thank You for the promise that if we live to God now, we will live with God forever.

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