On May 19, 2018, Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth, will exchange wedding vows with Meghan Markle, an American actress whose most recent home has been in Toronto, Canada.
Their vows will be exchanged in a chapel within Windsor Castle, west of London. It promises to be a simple wedding as royal events go, but grand if not sumptuous in any commoner’s eyes.
For weeks now pundits have speculated: who will be invited and who passed over? Will the father of the bride be there? How about former President and Mrs. Obama, longtime friends of the prince? Or for that matter, should President Trump be invited? Speculation shifts from day-to-day.
The news of this upcoming event makes me think of one of Jesus’ parables.
In it, a king was planning a lavish wedding banquet for his son and his bride. It would be his kingdom’s star event of the season. According to custom, invitations were sent long before the date was set.
When the actual day of the event arrived guests received urgent notice that they were to come quickly; everything was ready.
The first guests receiving the summons ignored the invitation. The second group shrugged and turned back to their preoccupations — one had an interest in planting a field, another in managing a business.
A third group on receiving the call ruthlessly beat up the messengers and even killed some of them.
The king was infuriated at their refusals. Such an indignity to his beloved son! He sent out an army to burn their cities and kill the murderers.
Then, determined that the banquet would not fail and that his son would be duly honored, the king sent servants in all directions to invite anyone they found available — even persons lounging at street corners.
The call was urgent and the strategy worked. The banquet hall was full (Matthew 22:8-10).
Then Jesus’ story takes a strange turn. The feast was underway. The king, moving among the guests, found one man in slovenly attire even though wedding clothes had been provided when the guests entered.
The king asked the man how he got in. The man had no answer. The king had him bound and thrown out of the brightly lit hall into the blinding darkness.
The first invited guests were absent because of their disrespect for the king and his son and their preoccupations. The guest who had come, though inappropriately dressed, was thrown out because of his contempt for the occasion.
Some who listened to Jesus’ story recognized themselves in it. They rejected Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God, or they grudgingly accepted it but would consider entering only on their terms.
Jesus’ story ends with the words: For many are invited, but few are chosen.
That is, many are called to faith in Jesus as Lord and King with promise of a place in the kingdom to be celebrated like a great, joyful banquet. But earthly attractions hold sway. Others will be passed over because of their foolish insistence on their own terms.
A few weeks from now, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be stars of a sumptuous wedding banquet in their honor. Then the public interest will fade and other world events will gather attention.
Jesus’ parable, on the other hand, will stand for all of history to remind us that, although many are called to have a place in God’s eternal kingdom, the number of those who respond on kingdom terms will be few.
The chosen will be those who are seriously responsive to the Father’s call to kingdom citizenship as provided by the earthly life, ministry, and death of His dear Son, the Lord Jesus.
Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass (via flickr.com)