It’s Personal

Jesus tells the story of a King who throws a wedding banquet for his son. He invites lots of guests but at the last minute they refuse to come. He invites new guests who come but one turns up not wearing wedding clothes. [1]

Those who didn’t turn up and the one who came improperly dressed seemed to know what they were doing. It was a calculated insult and a show of strength as they rebelled against the King and dishonoured his son.In the story, Jesus says that the ones who refuse don’t just ignore the message but beat and ill-treat the King’s messengers.  The King responds by sending his solders to defeat them and burn their town. This provides another clue that the invitees were intentionally rebelling against the King.

Jesus was telling the story against those who had rejected him when he came. The history of God’s people was that they had constantly rebelled against him, rejecting his loving rule. They had ignored the prophet, beaten them and even killed them. They did the same to Jesus eventually.

The parable reminds us that there’s another side to the Gospel message that we don’t like to talk about so much these days. There is the wonderful free invitation to follow Jesus and receive eternal life by grace. However, there’s also the warning that those who reject him in the face of clear revelation about his goodness and greatness will one-day face judgement.

I was preaching on this passage on Sunday morning at another church and then in the evening  we were looking at Psalm 7 at Engage and Sunday Night Church. Psalm 7 is thought by some to have been written when David was on the run from Saul.  In the Psalm, David pleads for God’s protection and judgement against his enemies.  He pleads on the basis of his innocence and righteousness. Now in broader terms, we want to talk about David’s righteousness being imputed -received as a free gift through faith but probably in the specific circumstance he is saying that he is being attacked when he is innocent of a specific issue. He was the rightfully anointed King but he did not use that status for his own ends.  He waited patiently to inherit his throne in the right way.

Now, when we see Psalms like Psalm 7, we immediately see the message about God’s judgement. It leads neatly into a discussion about God’s righteous judgement over sin.  And when we talk about God’s righteous judgement, we often talk about how this means that we are guilty and deserve the penalty of death even for one sin.

But to a questioning ear, that sounds a little difficult.  Why would God be harsh against one small sin. The reality of course is that none of us do stop at one small sin anyway but I think part of the problem with our approach is that we still tend to talk in terms of rules, dos and don’ts, standards to meet etc.

However, something deeper is happening with sin. David as the righteous, anointed heir points us forward to Jesus, the anointed Son.  This is why Biblical Theology is helpful. It enables us to draw links and to see how Old Testament characters provide types that point us forward to Christ.  This helps us to apply bible passages properly. We don’t just apply them straight to ourselves but first of all we apply things through Christ.

David’s enemies were judged because they attacked God’s anointed.  Our sin is not just a failure to keep rules. It’s not just about a few small mistakes. The smallest sin matters because like failing to wear your wedding clothes, it is really a calculated insult, an act of rebellion. When we sin, we say that we reject Jesus, we reject his love, we reject his right and ability to rule.  When we sin, we repay his love and gracious invitation with rejection and hostility.

Sin matters because its personal. It’s not just that we’ve broken a code. It’s about a broken relationship with God. It’s about rejecting His Son.  That’s why God is just when he punishes sin.

But this also gives us a greater sense of the wonder of his lavish grace that he chooses to forgive us and through The Cross to reconcile us to himself.

[1] Matthew 22:1-14