When I was 21, I knew that I was going to marry Maria. I made it my mission to get her off the market and marry her. The only problem was that I knew I needed to get a ring, but I didn’t have any money. At 21-years old, I was still living in the college dorms, working multiple jobs and didn’t even have a car. But if you are on a mission, nothing will stop you from accomplishing that goal. After months of saving, I bought her a ring and proposed on New Year Eve. It might not have been the perfect proposal, but she still said, “Yes!” After a short engagement, Maria married me. I tell you that story, because I remember the focus I had when on mission. I remember how everything became clear. There was so much weight to what I was doing, that I could say “no” to the things I needed to say “no” to. I could say “yes,” to the things I needed to say “yes” to.
Do you know your mission? Do you know what you are supposed to do? The day that you get saved is the most exciting day in the world. After that, the second most exciting day is when you find out why. If you don’t have that focus yet, God wants you to discover it. In Matthew 22, we read a story by Jesus about our mission. As he is telling this story, Jesus is at the Temple Mount just days before laying his life down for us.
Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!
So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went on their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.
The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worth of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone that you see.’ So they servants brought in everyone that they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.
Jesus tells the story of a king that has a son about to get married. In the king’s kingdom, he owns all the land and everything inside. If you have a good king, then you know you are well protected. When a king has a son, it is important to remember that the son is the future king. If you are invited to the wedding party, it’s a big deal. Unfortunately in this story, the people said they had better things to do than attend the future king’s wedding. When the servants tell the king that people aren’t attending, he sends them out again reminding the people of all he has prepared for them.
Even though Jesus told the story 2000 years ago, it’s still just as impactful and relevant today. Who’s the king and the story? God. Who’s the king’s son in the story? Jesus. When he tells a story about the son’s bride, who’s that? The bride of Christ is the church. It’s us.
How does the king respond to hearing that the people in his kingdom don’t want to be a part of his son’s wedding party? It says the king was enraged. He sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. He invited them the first time. They said no and even killed the messengers. Then he tells his servants again that the wedding party is ready, go out and find anyone that you can. The king sent the messengers out to the street corners to invite people. The people on the street corners would’ve been the prostitutes, drug dealers and outsiders. Jesus tells a story about a King who says, “Well listen, if the people who got invited don’t want to come, I just want you to know that my kingdom is for everyone. So go tell the people on the street corners. I don’t care what they’ve done. I don’t care who they are. I have a big banquet ready to celebrate my son and I want them at the table.”
The messengers went out to the street corners and invited everyone just as the king asked. Those people all came to celebrate with the king. The people that were normally considered outcasts would not have gone to many weddings before and would not own the clothes needed to wear. But no worries, a wedding of this kind of magnitude and wealth would have a tent ready to take the clothes that you’re wearing and trade you for a robe provided by the king himself. The robe would either go over your old clothes to cover you or it will be a complete change of clothes. The robe was so that all the attention would be directed to honor the son getting married to his bride. You put that robe on and now you look the same as everyone else at the table. With everyone wearing the appropriate robes, you would not be able to tell who was the prostitute, gambler, addict or drug dealer because they’ve been covered. When wearing the robe, everybody’s on the same level.
Everyone is in the presence of the king and they’re thinking to themselves, “This is the best food I have ever had! I was hungry and now I am fed. I was begging but now have been invited. I was spit on and now I am being served.” When clothed in the robe of the king, we are all made worthy. Do you know who the robe is in the story? It’s Jesus. Salvation through Jesus makes it possible for us to be in the presence of the king. It is not what we have done, but it is because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us that we put on the robe of salvation.
Maybe you are reading this and you’re still hung up on things that Jesus hung for. You could be so caught up in who you used to be, that you cannot embrace who you are now. God is not taking who you used to be and making a better version. He’s taking who you used to be and showing the world who he’s always intended you to be. Are you with me on this?
Now that you are clothed in Christ, the king’s not seeing who you used to be, he’s seeing who he always intended you to be. He’s seeing you as saved, set apart, forgiven and ready for God’s mission for your life. There’s nothing that should be holding you back anymore. The idea that Jesus has done everything for us, should be the thing that we never stopped thinking about. I wish this was the end of the story that Jesus told, but there is more.
But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
He asked, “How did you get in here without wedding clothes friend?” And the man was speechless. Why was he speechless? Because he had no excuse. Because the wedding clothes had been provided for him. The king didn’t expect him to come in without the effort of putting on the gift of new clothes. Maybe you are like the person on the street corner and never saw the need for the new clothes. Jesus is telling you that there is a moment in ever person’s life that they recognize that they have done some things that they are not proud of and are still wearing the street clothes. Jesus provides the opportunity for each of us to remove the shame of the street clothes and put on the robe of salvation that is only available through Him. John 14:6 says, “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’”
There’s still the servants in the story. The servants watched the first round of servants go out and get rejected and even murdered. Then the second group of servants went out to the street corners and invited anyone they could find. The King sent them to the LEAST, the LAST and the LOST.
Who are the least? They are those that feel less than. There are people in your life that feel insecure and insignificant. They feel like they don’t belong and their self-esteem is at zero. The least are those that think they are on the outside and they are never going to be accepted by God.
“I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the LEAST of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the LEAST of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
For who are we to do these things? The least of these. Every week there are opportunities to serve the community and Adopt the City you are in. At times you might be thinking, that you are serving to make yourself feel good. Yet, Jesus is clear that when we serve the least, we are actually serving God. We are doing it for Him! If you ever want to know where the presence of God really is, look for those that are hungry, thirsty, in prison and the lonely. God is not hiding from you, He tells you exactly where to find Him.
That Last are those that feel the farthest away from God. They are the ones that say they would rather party in Hell than go to Heaven. The Last are the ones that reject you for your relationship with Christ. Do you have those people in your life? If you don’t have people that reject you for being a Christian, then you have gotten too comfortable. Jesus tells us that they rejected him and will do even worse to his followers. If you are following Jesus in a bold way, then there will be some Last friends that persecute you. Jesus doesn’t want you to give up on those friends. He wants them to know that He loves them and desires a real relationship with them.
What about the people that are Lost? They are the ones that know they need a Savior, but they don’t know who their Savior is. Those that are lost use different things to fill the void in their lives and self-medicate. Self-medication can look like addiction, shopping sprees or even unhealthy dating relationships. They’re looking for a savior and you see them drowning right in front of you. As their friend, you see that they need a lifeline and the lifeline that they need is Jesus. God wants us to be willing to make an intentional effort to surround yourself with the least, the last and the lost.