And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. “And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. “Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ “But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. “But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire. “Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ “And 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. “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And he was speechless. “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
If by some miracle you have read every one of my missives on Matthew, you probably posses a fairly good understanding of this parable. Not because I am a wonderful writer or a talented teacher but because by default, you have read the entire context of Matthew, up to this point. In most instances, two or three times. What ever I write, or in spite of what I write, here, you are at minimum, given the context. If you are reading my missives for the first time you’re probably thinking, “it will be the last.” However I hope not and I would like to welcome you and thank you for reading. You could be doing anything else in the world but you have read this far, please, keep reading because I don’t think it is an accident that you are here. I don’t claim to be a wonderful writer or a talented teacher. I have no special insight into the word of God nor any credentials to my name. But what sets these missives appart from our Western, mega-church pastors, is that we consider the context.
Why is the context important? I can best explain that by demonstrating how we can misunderstand or distort things if we take them out of context. For example; my grandmother, who is usually cold even on a hot day, would more-than-frequently say to her descendants, “where’s your jacket?” Or, “how come you’re not wearing a coat?” Even in the middle of July, when it’s humid and 74 degrees, which is warm in New England, she would ask, “where’s your jacket?” It’s so common for her to say, that a few days ago when I saw my cousin wearing a jacket in 70 degrees, which is very warm for New England so far this year, I said, “Gramma called, she’s proud of you.” My cousin, brother, sister-in-law and son all laughed because we understood the context. However, in years past, when my grandmother would ask my brother, “where’s your jacket?” He would respond, “it’s my right not to wear a jacket, I am protected by the Constitution of the United States. I have the right to bare arms.”
Yes, it’s a pun and wordplay, he certainly knew that. Even literally though, “bearing arms” could mean something other than that which the Constitution intended, if taken out of context. We do this to the Word of God, making it say things of which it never intended. Therefore I would like to change things up for a bit and see what happens if we take things out of their proper context, which is dangerous. Like reading the first few chapters of Job and taking them as doctrine, we must consider the genre and context. I am about to intentionally distort the Scriptures. This is not doctrine, this is a demonstration of how not to study the Bible.
*Warning: the following is not to be taken literally, or at all, it’s a demonstration, an example of distortion: Today I want to talk about, “The King’s Clothes.” We must put on our best clothes to be successful, blessed and to prosper as a church. We have read, “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And he was speechless. “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness.” You see, he wasn’t wearing, the “King’s Clothes.”
We should dress for success. If we want to be the triumphant person that God has called us to be, we must put that on and show the world, we must wear the blessings, we must put on, “The King’s Clothes.” Jesus says in Luke 7:25, ‘Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.” To be in the court of the king, we must present ourselves worthy. The King of kings calls us and has anoited us as heirs, therefore if we want to be in his presence, we should dress the part. I was called by the King and I am going to dress like that! I am going to put on, “The King’s Clothes.” I wasn’t called by a poor pauper but by the Lord of glory, to be a partaker in that glory, so I’m going to shine my shoes and put my best foot forward–amen?
When Jesus was transfigured he appeared in garments whiter than any launderer could whiten them and he calls us to change our clothes and put on the new man. I don’t know about you but there have been times in my life, seasons, where I’ve worn, worn-out, old sweatpants and a stained t-shirt. Was I being successful, claiming my crown from the Lord of glory who promised me a double portion? Or was I depressed and displaying that depression outwardly? You see, I wasn’t wearing “The King’s Clothes.” The Lord declared for me to get up and change my clothes and claim all which he had promised me. Well I put on my best suit, claimed the victory, and Jesus promoted me to prosperity because I changed my clothes and Christ caused me to come into a new season.
The Scripture says, “women should adorn themselves!” You see men, it’s not just for you but for the women also. Women should look their best so they can feel their best because they are the best, the Lord has commanded it. Male and female, the Scripture, says, are made in the image of the most high, the most excellent God. Are we going to dress for that excellence or dress down in the dumps. No, we all adorn ourselves with, “The King’s Clothes.”
It reminds me of a story. My father was born a poor young farmer. He had holes in his pants and everyone would make fun of him because of his clothes. But one day, a young, sharp-dressed, business man came rolling on through town because he had an important presentation to make the next town over. Now my father used to sell tomatoes. And this business man just so happened to be in need of a few tomatoes for a visual aid at his presentation. So when he saw my father by the roadside, peddling his tomatoes, he offered him a trade. You see, the man had just picked up a new suit for the presentation but it was the wrong size, but he knew it would fit my father perfectly. So he traded that suit for three tomatoes, seeing my father’s tattered clothes. So they made the trade, my father donned that suit, and wouldn’t you know it but just then, other travelers came through town, saw my father in that sharp suit and thought, “those must be the greatest tomatoes in town, if he can afford a suit like that.” So they bought all my father’s tomatoes and all his future ones as well, because of that suit! All because my father put on, “The King’s Clothes!” Can I get an amen?
*End transmission. I feel so dirty. I struggle with even satirically suggesting this. I can’t fathom how many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers, can teach like this and make millions. It’s time to wake up in the West.
I ripped, violently and without any cause, other than my own aspirations, those few verses out of context. Luke 7:25 is about the greatest man born of a woman, John the Baptist. Here’s the context, similar to what we have read in Matthew: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER BEFORE YOUR FACE, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.’ I say to you, among those born of women, there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
I also wrote: “The Scripture says, ‘women should adorn themselves!’ You see men, it’s not just for you but for the women also. Women should look their best so they can feel their best because they are the best, the Lord has commanded it.” Unfortunately, I more than ripped that out of context, I lied and distorted, misquoted and manipulated the meaning, using the out of order, words of Paul, “women should adorn themselves!” The context: “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness. Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.” That sounds like the exact opposite of what I said.
Problem; perhaps you like what I wrote better than what Paul wrote. What other answer can their be but that? How can thousands flock to stadiums, watch televisions, and tune in to 24 hour radio programs unless it’s what they want to hear? What if I hadn’t prefaced my remarks with a warning, would you have been inclined to believe them? What if they were started softly spoken and then exclaimed for emphasis in the midst of thousands, bookmarked by incredible music and prayer, with a pronounced picture of the cross in the background and a big Bible, wide open, prominently placed on a podium, by a well-dressed, charismatic cleargyman?
But you aren’t watching TV or listening to the radio, you are reading this. Since you are here, please consider reading my missives on Matthew, if you have not already. In them you will discover the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics. CAGED being an acronym for Context, Author’s Aspirations to his Audience, Genre is the General, Expository Exegesis of Examples Enlightens, and Dividing Rightly the Word of Truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions–Context being superlative.
If you have been reading even the last few of my missives, and you see the sublime string and consider the context and examples found in our Old Testament tutor, the following should be fairly easy to interpret:
And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king [the Father], who gave a wedding feast for his son [the Son]. “And he sent out his slaves [the Law] to call those who had been invited [Apostate Israel] to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. “Again he sent out other slaves [the Prophets] saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited [Apostate Israel], “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ “But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest [priests, scribes, leaders like Ahab, et al] seized his slaves [prophets, soon to be Jesus and his disciples] and mistreated them and killed them. “But the king was enraged and sent his armies [Assyria, Babylon and very soon, Rome], and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire. “Then he said to his slaves [disciples], ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ “And 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. “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes [Mega-church pastor; sorry], and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And he was speechless. “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
This is the third parable told by Jesus to the high priests and scribes, concerning their role, or lack thereof in the Kingdom of Heaven. The context is clear about this, notice; And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son.”
I guess my question for today is the following: have you been invited, or have you invited yourself by just praying a little prayer, based on an erroneous interpretation of who Jesus is?
Search the Scriptures and you will not find one instance of a man asking Jesus into his heart. Nor will you read the words, “just pray a simple prayer.” But what you will find frequently is the word, “μετάνοια”: From meta (change) and noieo (to know or understand); to think differently after being with; to Reconsider; most translations read, “repent.” Most pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers have been taught to make sure that “repenting of sins” be included in the “Sinner’s Prayer.” But what does that mean other than a total transformation? Is one truly born again because he says, “I repent of my sins?”
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born bagain.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Without a doubt, “many are called,” and without a doubt, “few are chosen.” Don’t place your salvation in your own hands but in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus. Change your mind about God being a vending machine of prosperity and prepare for persecution. Read the Bible for all it is worth, closely considering the context. Do not be like the scribes and priests, going through the motions but let the Bible, in its proper context, continue to metamorphosize your mind.