Trinity Twenty Sermon
October 24, 2004
ďThe Wedding of the Kingís SonĒ
The parable of the wedding
of the kingís son teaches us about the kingdom of heaven.
The king is God. His
son is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
The marriage is the joining of Christ with His bride, the holy
Christian Church. The servants that the king sends out are the prophets of the
Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament. They are abused, mistreated, and even killed.
Those who persecute the prophets and the apostles are the leaders
of Godís holy nation of Israel. Their
city, Jerusalem, was destroyed as Jesus warned it would be.
Everyone is invited to the wedding, but only those who believe in
the gospel of Christ are wearing the wedding garment.
They are covered with the robe of Christís righteousness. They partake of the wedding banquet, the eternal joys of
heaven. Those who come to
the wedding celebration without wearing the wedding garment are those
who reject the gospel even though they are outwardly attached to the
church. They are thrown
into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Thatís a description of hell.
The church on earth is the
kingdom of grace. The
church in heaven is the kingdom of glory.
The only way into the kingdom of glory is through the kingdom of
grace. Outside of the
church there is no salvation. Outside of faith in Christ there is no membership in the
church. Only those who
trust in the holy life and the innocent suffering and death of Jesus for
their salvation are saved. Those
who presume to stand before God wearing the dirty clothes of their own
manufactured righteousness will be thrown out of the presence of God
The grace of God defines His
kingdom. We cannot
understand what it means to be a Christian or a member of Christís
church if we donít understand grace.
This story illustrates Godís grace for us.
It sets forth three features of Godís grace for His church.
From this parable we learn of the persistence of Godís grace,
the nature of Godís grace, and the necessity of Godís grace.
First, this parable teaches us
the persistence of Godís grace. Godís
prophets were ignored, but God persisted in sending prophets.
Then they were despised, but God kept sending them.
Those to whom the prophets were sent came up with all sorts of
excuses to ignore their teaching, but God was not deterred. He kept sending them. Even
when the prophets were murdered, God kept sending more.
When Jesus sent out His apostles, He knew what awaited them.
He even described to St. Peter the kind of death he would suffer.
Of the original twelve apostles, only John died a natural death.
Ten were killed because they testified to Christ.
They died as martyrs. The
word martyr comes from the Greek word for witness.
In our language it refers to someone who dies for His cause.
This is because the apostles who were witnesses for Christ died
on account of their testimony. This
was as Jesus said it would be.
God will never give up on
bringing His holy gospel to those who need it.
Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem.
It served as Godís judgment against the unbelief of the
religious establishment of Jesusí day.
More than that, it stands as Godís judgment against religious
leaders of every generation who think that their religiosity is a fit
substitute for the grace of God. The destruction of Jerusalem does not teach the limits of
Godís grace, however. To
the contrary, after God destroyed that nation He kept sending out His
servants to the whole world, carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus
to preach the gospel to all people everywhere.
God does not give up on sinners.
We might. He never
We might think that that person
to whom we have confessed the faith and invited to church and who has
never shown any interest is beyond Godís help.
But what do we know? Are
we the authors of faith or is God?
God watched as prophet after prophet, apostle after apostle,
preacher after preacher, was ignored, mocked, persecuted and killed.
God did not stop sending preachers.
His gospel has never been silenced.
Never in the history of the human race has the gospel of Christ
not been proclaimed. God
wonít be quiet. His grace
is persistent. He urges
sinners to repent and when they abuse His messengers, He sends His
messengers to other sinners urging them to repent.
But He keeps on sending them.
He keeps calling out to those who trust in themselves to set
aside their false faith.
Jesus was a preacher.
He refused to be silent. True,
He did not cast His pearls before swine.
When He was brought before Herod, the mocker, He said not a word.
But before Pilate, Jesus confessed the faith.
He proclaimed the gospel. He
offered the truth, even in the face of Pilateís cynical denial of the
very possibility of absolute truth about God.
And we know what Christís persistence cost Him.
It cost Him His very life.
Second, this parable teaches us
the nature of Godís grace. By
giving up His holy life Jesus purchased the wedding garment for us.
The nature of Godís grace is that it covers up our shame and
guilt with the wedding garment of Christís righteousness.
To know the nature of Godís grace we must look at the life of
Christ. Godís grace
caused His incarnation. ďGod
so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.Ē (John 3:16) God loved the world in this way, in the way of giving His
only begotten Son. When God
became a man not only did God assume a human nature Godís grace
assumed its nature. Godís
grace is His love for us sinners who do not deserve His love.
God doesnít love us because we have elicited love from Him. God loves us because God is love. The nature of God is to love.
Therefore, the nature of God is to be gracious and to love the
This is not only demonstrated in
God sending His Son into the world.
The sending of His Son into the world is the grace of God.
There is no grace apart from Jesus and in Jesus there is nothing
but grace and truth. The
nature of Godís grace is more than the incarnation of Godís Son.
It is the living and dying of the incarnate Son of God.
That God would take on human flesh and blood is gracious
condescension beyond what we could have imagined.
But Godís grace is even greater than that.
The incarnate Son of God who is now our holy brother chooses to
be numbered among sinners. He
chooses to receive, by Godís imputation, the sin of all sinners. Sin is impossible for Him to commit. He cannot do sin because He is wholly innocent.
But He can bear sin. And
so He does.
What happens when the innocent
Man who lived a life without sin bears all sin of all sinners?
Godís righteousness is fulfilled in man.
Our brother Jesus does what God requires of us all. He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
He offers in our stead the life of obedience that we all owe to
God. The nature of Godís
grace is that God covers up all our sin by clothing us in the
righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself.
Isaiah spoke of this.
How does God cover us with the
robe of righteousness? St.
Paul tells us.
Faith and baptism go together. We are children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Those who have faith in Christ put on Christ in Holy Baptism.
The robe of righteousness is given to us to wear in Holy Baptism. We are clothed in this robe through faith.
Baptism does not clothe us with Christ apart from faith.
Faith doesnít exist apart from baptism.
Faith will either be bestowed in Holy Baptism as is the case with
an infant or faith will lead us to baptism, as is the case with an
adult. In either case,
faith and baptism go together. This is how St. John put it in Revelation 7:13-14.
Then one of the elders
answered, saying to me, ďWho are these arrayed in white robes, and
where did they come from?Ē And
I said to him, ďSir, you know.Ē
So he said to me, ďThese are the ones who come out of the great
tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of
Our robes are washed in Holy
Baptism. The blood of the
Lamb is applied to us. The
nature of Godís grace is that it covers up sin.
We donít cover our own sin.
We confess it. But
God covers it with Christ Himself.
We reveal the sin to God. We
donít hide it. Only God can hide it. He
hides it beneath the righteousness of Jesus.
This is what we wear. This
is what makes the church beautiful.
Third, this parable teaches the
necessity of Godís grace. Jesus
gives a stern warning. He
warns about hell. Hell is
the place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
There is no forgiveness of sins in hell.
Sin remains forever unforgiven.
When sin remains, so does the regret and sorrow of sin.
It never goes away. Weeping
cannot wipe it out.
my zeal no respite know,
The reason God is so persistent
in bringing His grace to sinners is because they need it.
The reason God gave the greatest gift God could give so that
grace might come to sinners is because they need it.
You need to wear the wedding garment.
If youíre not wearing it, you must spend eternity in hell.
This is what Jesus says. Yet
at no time during the history of Christís church has this teaching of
the Lord Jesus been so widely criticized.
To say that only those who are clothed in Christís
righteousness can go to heaven is to anger the religiously respectable
of our day, just as Jesusí parables so angered the religious leaders
of His own day. The reason
is obvious. To say that we
must be wearing the robe of righteousness that Jesus alone can give or
we will be thrown into outer darkness is another way of saying that we
all deserve to be thrown out into outer darkness.
But nobody wants to admit this.
It is too terrifying an admission.
The reason we donít want to
admit what our sins deserve is because it is of the nature of sin to
justify itself. This is why all religions ever invented by men are
works-righteous religions. Only
Christ offers forgiveness of sins freely.
Only Christianity teaches that we are justified and saved by
grace alone, through faith alone. Yes,
it is a humbling truth because it reminds us of our utter unworthiness
before God. But it is a
comforting truth as well. We
daily sin much and deserve nothing but punishment.
But we do not receive what we deserve.
We are clothed in robes of such unsurpassed beauty that when God
sees us He smiles at us. He
sees only the willing and holy obedience of Jesus.
He sees the sacrifice that cancels all our guilt.
And so the omniscient God, who sees all things, neither knows nor
sees any of our sins. He
sees only that wedding garment that covers our sin and shame.
We can celebrate the marriage feast with pure joy.
And we donít need to wait until we get to heaven.
We can sing and make melody in our hearts, always giving thanks
to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here in Godís kingdom of grace we enjoy the foretaste of the
joy yet to come.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus