Yippee! A wedding! I would probably attend a stranger’s wedding, just because weddings are joyous and fun occasions. It was only when I cam to Asia and Africa that a wedding became something that I did not want to attend, they tend to be excessively long and full of ceremony and tradition. They are also in a language that I do not understand.
It comes to me that perhaps it is the last reason, lack of language, that people would turn down the invitation of the king of the parable. People do not speak His language, they do not understand, do not want to understand and simply do not care to understand this culture that we call Christianity. They begin by saying no and going on about their business. The next time they are encouraged to come, they beat and kill the messengers of the king.
This is hatred of the gospel. It is absolute refusal of the joy and belonging that are ours, that we are invited to take as our own. They were invited but choose not to come. It is not the messenger’s job to convict people to come, that lays with the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the violence inflicted upon God’s people, his messengers, was avenged too. We need not concern ourselves with that either.
A wedding would last days in Jesus’s time, usually a week. A King especially would spare no expense and would have prepared food and sustenance, for many people to last over a week. Yet even at the thought of such bounty, none of the invited came. A second set of invitations was sent out.
The groom would form a procession from his place of preparation (often an unknown location) to the house of the bride to then process together to the wedding location. The groom could not set out by himself, he was accompanied by many, and the virgins waited along to the way to accompany the spouse and then the betrothed couple. So, the king’s son was waiting for his attendants to accompany him to the wedding. Once he was ready, he would go out. But the virgins, and the bride for that matter, had no idea exactly when that would be. Nor did they know how long it would take the groom to proceed through the streets to the bride.
We have the virgins waiting too. The bride’s maids would wait to light the way to the groom. How direct an example of the workers of the church who light the way to Christ, waiting for his coming. Some of us will be ready when he comes and others not. We have the oil of the light of Christ within us, not only a shiny exterior to show all. We must have an inner reserve which is always ready. The oil of the Spirit is with us and in reserve if we make room for the Spirit. If we cultivate the relationship with the Spirit, we will be ready for the bridegroom’s coming. The virgins accompany the procession of the groom, lighting his way to the bride and accompanying them on to the wedding and feast.
These days, we generally wear our best to a wedding. We dress well and show honor to the groom and bride, celebrating with them. In those times, guests were given festive clothing for the occasion. In the parable, the guests were from the streets, all the people good and bad. And all were dancing when the king himself appeared and noted that one, only one was out of dress.
Of all the good and bad mixed together, no one noticed before that one was not rightly dressed. The person also did not or could not, hide in the crowd of partying and dancing. The uninvited guest could not slink off unnoticed by the king. The other guests could not tell the difference. Perhaps in the street clothes that the guests were wearing before, we could have judged the worn clothing, the ill-fitting shoes, the dirty hair. In the feasting, guests were all dressed the same, and no one could discern the king’s supporters or adversaries. It would be presumed they are all supporters. Yet, there are some who do all the right things, but don’t have the right things in their heart. We cannot see that, only God can. It reminds me that perhaps we judge those around us, estimate their competency, their quality of work, but we are not able to estimate the quality of their heart. The virgins were all very similar, half were not prepared though. At the banquet, there was one that was out of place.
God has invited and been rejected; he has called still more and will keep doing so. He will call the unqualified and equip them to the work. We cannot pretend to see what he does, for we see only in a mirror. But he sees face to face and heart to heart.
What I see is that we have our own path to walk, and like the virgins, we can prepare only ourselves. God will see what we have done and will know our hearts. He certainly wants our hearts to be for others, but they cannot be taken by others. We must stay the course and not be driven off track, by those unprepared or by those without Christ in their heart.
These parables speak to me of judging, or evaluating, and how if I do, I will get it wrong. My eyes will see as all the guests did: none was out of place and wearing counterfeit wedding garments. I must accept what is around me, and Christ will call out the fabrications, the lies, the blackened hearts. It is hard to sit back and not search out or do something to find the wrong. I must be the light that shines, the guest that rejoices. I don’t want to be the one always looking for the fraud, skeptical of everyone and everything, it is hard to relinquish that. I’ll open my heart to the spirit and move as led, concerned for others but not consumed by their needs, giving to others but not evaluating.
What do you get from these wedding stories?