Then (the king) said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.' Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. (Matthew 22:8-10)

Jesus was always so fond of parables, of hiding incredibly deep truths in a story. I think he did that for a lot of reasons, but one of my favorite is that it is fun to play around with which character you most feel like in a story. Who are you in this tale of a king and a banquet?

It starts out in a happy place. A king wants to throw a party. He makes all the plans, puts together a big feast, and assembles a guest list. For reasons that may strike us as odd, everyone on his guest list declines the invitation. They would much rather go to work than head off to a party. Pretty strange, don't you think?

But this king will not be deterred. He is going to party, no matter who he has to invite to do it. So he sends his servants out into the world and invites anyone and everyone he can find. People off the street, who may or may not have even been aware that there was a king let alone that there was celebrating to do, were suddenly finding themselves the guests of honor in the party of the century. This is roughly akin to bumping into the President at a Walmart and being invited to a State Dinner. What an honor!

And then the story continues in a weird way. As the party gets rowdy, the king notices someone who wasn't wearing the proper attire. The king is infuriated, and throws the guy out onto the street, complete with weeping and gnashing of teeth. One wonders how a king who was so gracious as to invite the riff raff would be surprised that they would dress like, well, riff raff. What a peculiar story!

There are so many different ways to see this, so many different questions I want to ask myself. Am I like the original members of the guest list, preferring my own business and agenda to the celebration of God? Am I too quick to choose doubt over faith? Do I lean too much on my own power and not enough on the power of God? Or am I more like the people off the street, finding myself celebrating something I don't deserve at all? Perhaps I'm even a bit more like the guy at the end, who has found his way into the party but doesn't always know how to behave once I'm inside. And perhaps what's truly confusing is that I think from day to day I am a different character.

The bottom line from this story is this: no matter who you are or where you are or what you've done, you are in fact invited to the party. The king is indiscriminate not once but twice, making sure that an invitation falls into everyone's hand. The question is, what will you do in the aftermath? What kinds of choices will you make with your invitation?

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