Jesus answered and spoke again in parables to them, saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who made a marriage feast for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come. Again he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner. My cattle and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the marriage feast!”‘ But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his merchandise, and the rest grabbed his servants, and treated them shamefully, and killed them. When the king heard that, he was angry, and sent his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited weren’t worthy. Go therefore to the intersections of the highways, and as many as you may find, invite to the marriage feast.’ Those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. The wedding was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who didn’t have on wedding clothing, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here not wearing wedding clothing?’ He was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness; there is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.’ For many are called, but few chosen.”
|Matthew 22:1-14, World English Bible
Rather than add my comment to the thread – I thought I’d actually make my comment a part of the post so it could be taken up in discussion. My intent in posting this video was to engage us in thinking about what the Kingdom of GOd was all about – the Love feast around which we should gather each week and our understanding of what church is all about.
Many folk consider member ship of a church to be at least part of the evithat one is ‘saved’, is a memebr fo the Kingdom of God. I konw that that is not true of people on this blog necessarily – but many Christians would assume that without belonging to a gathering of Christians you couldn’t posibly be saved, let alone call yourself Christian.
The parable above is well known. We understand what it means. If you try to come to God in any other way than the prescribed way you will be tossed out on your ear.
But does that interpretation make sense given all the other “The Kingdom of God is like” parables? This parable comes last in a series of Kingdom Parables:
- The Sower (Mt. 13:1-23).
- The tares (Mt. 13:24-30)
- The mustard seed(Mt. 13:31-32).
- The leaven(Mt. 13:33).
- The treasure hid in the field (Mt. 13:44).
- The wicked servant (Mt. 18:23-35).
- The talents (Mt. 25:14-30).
- The wedding dinner (Mt. 22:2-14).
The only one of these parables to have someone who responded to the call of God suffer any misfortune is the last – the parable fo the wedding banquet. Why? It doesn’t make sense when all the other parables in Matthew regarding the Kingdom of God are about how alrge, all encompassing, inviting and generous it is. in fact in one – the parable of the Tares, the harvester is told to allow the tares to grow along with the wheat. What is going on here? This King kills those who don;t repond – destroying their towns. This doesn’t sound like te Kingdom of God…the Kingdom of some tyrranical despot, sure – but not of God, surely.
There are many problematic aspects to this traditional perspective, but theologian John Mabry invites us to consider one particularly salient angle. He says:
I remember once…counseling a woman who had been extremely wounded by her fundamentalist experience…. Through her tears, she told me how scared she was of being cast into Hell for daring to question her church’s theology. “Haven’t you always been taught that God is your heavenly Father?” I asked her. She nodded and blew her nose. “Well, let’s say you have a daughter. What if she did something really bad, let’s say she killed somebody.” She nodded…. “Would it be right for her to be punished for her crime?” She nodded that it was.” And what would be an appropriate punished be?” She thought about it for a while, “I don’t know, maybe twenty years in prison?”
“Shouldn’t she be tortured for those twenty years?”
“No! Prison is enough.”
“But the church says that just punishment for any sin is to be tortured in unthinkable agony, not for twenty years, but for all of eternity. As a mother, would you allow your child to endure that if you had the power to stop it?”
“Of course not!”
“How does it feel to be morally superior to God?” I asked. (149) [“morally superior to God” — John Mabry, The Monster God: Coming to Terms with the Dark Side of Divinity.]
Mabry is inviting us to consider that we are perhaps merely projecting our desire for violence onto our image of God in those places in the Bible and elsewhere in which we allow God to be violent in our place.
It has been suggested by some that this parable is in fact an ‘anti King’ parable, not a ‘kingdom of God’ parable – it was designed to hi-light the tryranny of King Herod – not to draw peoples attention to what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. There is also a clue in the use of the words translated “The Kingdom of God is like”? There are two forms of the Greek which are translated in that way; “homoia estin”, and homoiothe, the former meaning ‘is like’ and the latter meaning ‘was made like’. In the case of this parable it is the latter form which is used. And so a legitmate translatoin might read – “The Kingdom of God has been made like a human king who prepared a marriage feast for his son…” The King in this parable is not God – but is a human king – it is not about the Kingdom of God at all.
Interestingly Herod the great was attempting at the time to arrange his wedding to the granddaughter of Hyrcanus the high priest..and therefore legitamise his reign among the peopole of Jerusalem who didn’t accept him as King at all. The people saw him as an outsider, not valid because he didn’t belong to the Hasmonean royal line. Herod’s military campaign reached the walls of Jerusalem and was met by opposition there, but ‘instead of loosing his army on the city he pleaded…’
…that he came for the good of the people, and for the preservation of the city, and not to bear any old grudge at even his most open enemies, but ready to forget the offences which his greatest adversaries had done him. (Josephus, The Antiquities, 14:402)
Sounds much like what the King in the parable is saying huh?
Marty Aiken from Yale Universtiy, in a paper he presented, argues that in this parable Jesus is actually introducing himself as the ‘suffering servant’ from Isaiah:
I propose in this paper a new reading of the parable of the wedding Banquet in Matthew (Matt. 22:1-14) My proposal is that Jesus uses this parable to declare to the ruler’s representatives, and the world, that Jesus’ authority will be the authority of the suffering servant. Jesus does this by structuring the parable so that he can introduce into the parable the figure of “suffering servant’ from Isaiah, especially Isaiah 52:13-53:12. The servant figure in the parable with whom Jesus identifies is the man without the wedding garment who suffers expulsion, and worse, at the hand of the king.
The universally accepted reading of this parable comes to the exact opposite conclusion. The king introduced at the beginning of the parable is understood as a reference to God, and the violence the king calls down upon the unrobed man is interpreted as sacred violence levied in judgment for the man’s absolute recalcitrance at accepting God’s invitation into his kingdom.
And that is why I think that church…the body of Christ…the expression and ambassadorship of The Kingdom of God here in the Earth, is like this fantastic, brilliant peaceful loving meal shared amongst fine wine, friends, and great conversation, and is a far more an accurate picture than the one accepted as being presented in the parable of the princes banquet.
What do you think?