Maggots….at a wedding banquet ?

2 02 2011

DAY THIRTY-THREE : Job 25 v. 1 – 29 v. 25; Matthew 21 v. 33 – 22 v. 14; Psalm 18 v. 7 – 15

BILDAD – praises God’s power and might, and describes humans as ‘maggots’ (nice !)

JOB – begins here his final words to his ‘friends’, and shows his understanding of their idea of a God who simply rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked, but desperately wants them to consider a bigger picture, a bigger God. All the way through, the ‘friends’ have wanted to see Job on his knees repenting the sins which must have brought this suffering upon him, and Job has shown himself open to God revealing the sins which may need bringing into the light, but Job is more conscious of his righteousness, all the good he has done, and the unfairness of the suffering received – he simply longs to experience God’s presence again, to hear His voice again….that time is coming for Job (and for us !).

MATTHEW – Jesus tells two parables, in the hearing of the religious leaders, to further illustrate His point that they are missing out on the Kingdom of God in their midst, and others are getting it before them.

The Parable of the Tenants would have reminded the hearers of Isaiah ch. 5, where God says His people are like a vineyard He has planted and cares for. Adapted now for Jesus’s message, it’s about how the tenants of that vineyard treated the servants of the landowner who came for the fruit at the harvest time. Beaten, killed, stoned. His final shot is to send His Son, who himself is killed. The message, if they will hear it, is that God will take His vineyard from these tenants and give it others to tend.
For us, in this story, Jesus is both the Son, whom God has sent, whose death at their hands is imminent, and the ‘foundation stone’ of the new Kingdom, being built before their eyes.

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet illustrates Jesus’s last parable further, that the gospel good news is being heard by gentiles and ‘sinners’ ahead of the self-righteous religious elite. The ‘wedding feast’ is often used in scripture to depict the blessings of God’s Kingdom. In the story, it is the King’s Son who is marrying (plenty of images of the church as the bride of Christ at the wedding feast – that’s you and I !!!!). As all sorts of people accept the invitation to the wedding (having sent the invitations further afield when the original guests turned away, had other things to occupy them – further condemnation of the religious leaders), and there’s a final punchline to the story about a man who arrives without his ‘wedding garment’, and is cast out. At first this sounds harsh and cruel. The understanding, though, is that there is a garment (of righteousness) which is placed on us as guests of the King (and one man has rejected it / thought it of no value / never accepted it (Jesus ?) and so has no right being there).
Wesley wrote of this verse (ch 22 v. 11),
“The righteousness of Christ, first imputed, then implanted” – there’s no room for false security, Jesus is our only righteousness.

PSALM – God is awesome and almighty
“The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the most high resounded.”