Have we ever given a party and nobody attended? Have we ever sent invitations for a party and the folks didn’t even have the curtesy to respond? Rejection feels awful! Feels like we are not appreciated.
That’s exactly how the king in the story felt—unappreciated. A feast for his son’s wedding was a big deal. However, the guest not only refused to come, they killed the messengers who took the invitation. Texans would have loved the party. The menu was freshly slaughtered beef. Without refrigeration, meat did not keep long. The king had presumed that once the guests received his invitation, they would rush to his palace. [In my family we didn’t need a guest list. All we had to do was invite the family. We just rang the dinner bell, and they were ready. Any occasion was worth celebrating. One time we celebrated a cousin having her ears pierced.] The king presumed that his guests would react with the same enthusiasm with which he invited them. The king obviously liked those he invited. We usually don’t invite boring people to our parties. We invite folks whose company we enjoy. Therefore, we can surmise that a strong bond of friendship existed between the king and those who were the first to be invited. A joyous event turned into tragedy. The king’s servants were mistreated and killed. The king retaliated and destroyed the culprits and burned their city. Meanwhile, the son was waiting for his wedding. Although there was a major setback, the “show must go on.”
The same happens in the Kingdom of God. The Lord invites us to the Banquet of His Son. So many have refused. The prophets have been killed trying to deliver the invitation. Saints have given their life to bring folks to the Banquet. Just like in the story, they encountered violence. Unlike the story, God does not reciprocate. God does not send us the punishment we deserve. He could if He wanted. We do a pretty good job of punishing ourselves. The devil is also disposed to accuse us. The guilt trip sends us down the dark side to the land of regrets. The devil is always our accuser. God is always our defender. If we are going to identify with people in the story, we might want to choose the folks who came from the street. Street people do not have anything to lose because they have nothing to offer, only their presence. Presence was what the king was seeking. The poor have time. In our busy world of distractions, very few are willing to just sit and be present. We want to know who’s coming and what the agenda will be. To come without knowing what is going to happen is an act of faith.
Somebody yelled “free food” and they couldn’t get there fast enough! Free food usually means—beans, rice, bread. However, the invitation was not just to fill a hungry stomach—the invitation was for the best food these folks had tasted in a long time. Consider the condition of the guests. Imagine the smell of a banquet filled with people off the street. The majority had probably not had the benefit of a bath, not to mention clean clothes. The “good, the bad, and the ugly” were provided with a garment to cover whatever they were wearing, not to mention hide a bit of the odor. The garment was free and customary. One guest refused the garment. He could give no expiation for his rude behavior. To refuse the gift of the garment was a slap in the face to the host. We can draw all sorts of conclusions about the symbolism in the story. The basic theme is that the invitation is free. The banquet is free. The garment is free. We are the ones who ignore or refuse the generosity of the king. “Life is a banquet, and the majority of fools are starving to death.” Our precious life is a gift to be savored. Much of our time is spent on worries over issues which we cannot control. Yesterday has pasted. Tomorrow might not come. This moment is all that we have. The banquet has started, and we are the guests of honor.
Everything has been provided. All we need is love and to allow ourselves to be loved. The king welcomes us with open arms.