You’re Invited!

A Story about a King, a Wedding Dinner, and Yeses and Nos

Scripture reference: Matthew 22:1-14

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Excuses, excuses, excuses…!

This is a story about a king, a wedding dinner, and yeses and nos.

Once upon a time there was a king whose beloved son was going to be married. Ahhh …. a wedding! This made the king very happy. “I’ll have a delicious wedding dinner for my son – and invite the rulers of the cities to come and rejoice with me!”

So the king’s kitchen servants bustled about, slaughtering and roasting a whole ox and several especially fat calves, and preparing all kinds of marvellous foods. Fine white coats were hung in the hallway – one for each guest to put on. The king’s messenger servants ran from house to house with invitations for the important rulers of the cities in the kingdom. “Please honour my son; come eat at my table and share in my joy.”

One by one, the servants returned, to tell the king: “My lord, he does not wish to come”; “My lord, he says he has fieldwork to do”; “My lord, he does not want to come”; “My lord, he says he’s too busy!”

What!? not want to come? Did all those important people the king had invited not think it was a special honour to share in the king’s happiness? Didn’t they even appreciate the invitation?

The king was a patient king. Once more, he sent out his servants. “Tell them,” he said, “about the huge dishes full of good food that my servants are preparing, just for them” “Perhaps,” he thought, “they’ll come now.” They didn’t. They didn’t care about the invitation. They weren’t interested in sharing the king’s joy. Some of them even grabbed and killed the messenger servants who had been sent by the king to repeat the invitation.

The king was no longer patient. He was angry. Those murderers!! How dare they first say they didn’t want to come to this very special day, and then kill his faithful servants!! And so the king sent his army to kill the murderers and burn their cities.

But …. There was the king’s feast, delicious and ready to serve…. But TO WHOM? “I am determined to find others who can share in my joy,” said the king, and once more servants were sent out to with the same invitation. BUT not to the privileged and important people. THIS TIME the invitation was for anyone at all – rich and poor, proud  and meek, good and bad.

The white wedding coats still hung in the hallway, ready for the guests, and the king’s table was filled with fine food.

And these guests all came – eagerly, hesitantly, carefully, fearfully, – one by one – into the king’s palace, until at last the hall was full.

“Have we really been invited to sit in the presence of the king? To share in his joy? To eat with him? “ And all those who had come put on one of the fine white coats, ate at the king’s table, and shared in his joy.

This story has been told many, many times since Jesus told it first of all. Jesus, the great Teacher, told this story to the important rulers of the Jews because they thought they could say “no” to Jesus, and they thought it wouldn’t matter.

BUT IT DOES!.

Listen to two great versions of “Come and Go With Me to My Father’s House”:

And here’s a great little video of the parable presented by Hand to Mouth Puppets.

Say YES!

Letting Go

You Lack One Thing

Scripture reference: Mark 10:13-31

[You will need to have available a set of child’s “water wings”]

The rich young ruler

Jesus responds to the rich young ruler. Illustration: The Bowker Bible.Mortier

Can you tell me what I have in my hand? [Water wings]

What are they for?

When your mom or dad think you’re ready to learn to swim, off you go, maybe to the beach or to a big swimming pool. You wriggle into your swimsuit, and if you have water wings, you slip them on next—and then—a big person shows you how to do all kinds of things that help you get ready for real swimming: blowing bubbles, ducking your head under the water and counting your teacher’s fingers, floating, pretending you’re a jellyfish or a frog, and kicking your legs…

And, for a while, your water wings are so important—so is holding on to your teacher’s hand. Soon, you can do so many things in the water—PERHAPS!—you’re ready to swim!!

But—you won’t know for sure that you’re really ready until you take off your water wings and let go of your teacher’s hand and dive in! You just have to let go!

—-

A rich young man came to see Jesus. He thought he was ready to follow Jesus. He was sure he was ready to follow him. “Teacher,” he said, “I’ve done everything I need to do! I’ve been a good person since I was a boy; I never say bad words, I love my neighbours; I don’t steal; I love my mom and my dad; I never cheat; and I’ve never killed anybody. Now, how do I get into heaven?”

Jesus looked at the young man, and he looked right into his heart. “Are you really ready?” he asked. “Good, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The young man looked at Jesus. What? – Give away his money, the most important thing he owned? SELL EVERYTHING? Oh, no! He needed his money; he couldn’t let go of his riches – not yet!! He wasn’t really ready to let go, after all. And so he went away sadly and did not follow Jesus.

Note: in the context of the times, the young ruler had, in fact, done everything that was required of him  (by Sanhedrin law) to enter heaven and achieve eternal life. He felt, somehow, that it wasn’t enough, and felt the need to take another step – but even after Jesus spoke to him, could not release the most important thing in his life. (In his case, it was wealth) to let go completely and follow Jesus. Even the disciples who, too, had been brought up in that culture and tradition were amazed that this good man who had done it all since he was a boy, had not yet “qualified” for eternal reward.

Watch International Media Ministries’ mini-video of  ” The Rich Young Ruler.”

And… a 3.5 minute modern-day look at what could have happened after the rich young ruler left Jesus’ presence.

Face to Face

Belief Beyond Barriers

Scripture reference: Mark 5:25-34

Seeking Jesus for healing

“Just a touch of his robe”

When I was a little girl, the Queen of England came to visit the people of Canada. She travelled from place to place, from city to city in this big land. One day the news came that the Queen planned to visit a beautiful park not far from where my family lived. What a marvellous chance to see her! So off we went, my sisters and I, to catch a glimpse of the Queen of England!  There were so many people in the park, crowding close together, all hoping  to come a little closer to the place where the Queen was going to be. At last, there she was, but so far away!!! She was sitting on a platform higher than our heads, surrounded by important people, all dressed up! A thick rope fence was stretched around the platform where she sat, so that no none could come near. Special guards said over and over: “Please stay back… please stay back…” The Queen was so far away, and so small, I could barely see her smile.

When Jesus was doing his Father’s work on earth, he walked with his helpers from place to place, from city to city in the land of Palestine. And many time, large crowds of people followed. “Jesus is coming to our village! Come… let’s go and listen to him! Hurry!” the people would say to one another. And they’d pack a lunch – if they remembered – and hurry to follow Jesus. The healthy people went to listen, and the sick people went mostly because they knew that Jesus could make them well.

On one of those days, there was a particular woman in the crowd. She was by herself,  just like always; most of her neighbors wouldn’t even visit her because of her sickness. For twelve years the doctors had tried to cure her, but not one could help. BUT… here was this Jesus, and hadn’t he cured the man with the evil spirit? She’d ask Jesus to heal her too!!

Oh dear, what a crowd! Everybody wanted to be first – pushing and shoving …! She’d never be able to talk to Jesus in this mob. But… Jesus could make her well: she was SURE of it! … What if she could come just a little closer, and touch his clothes. That would be enough. Yes…., she would just touch him!

Through the crowd she squirmed… and squeezed… and pushed. There he was! She stretched out her thin arm and touched Jesus’ dusty robe. In that instant she knew that her sickness was gone!

Jesus knew it, too, in that same instant. He stopped. He turned. “Who touched my clothes?” he asked. What a question, thought the disciples. Everybody was touching him, pushing and shoving and calling his name. It could be anyone… But Jesus knew it was someone special.

And the woman knelt at Jesus’ feet and said, “I touched your robe because I believed that you could make me better.” And Jesus said to her, “Because you believed, your sickness is gone. Go home, and be happy and well…”

Maybe we can’t reach out and grab Jesus’ robe to get his attention, but when we really believe, we can reach him with our prayers and that puts us right in front of him, face to face

Listen to the gospel version of ” Touch the Hem of His garment” by Sam Cooke & the Gospel Stirrers.