The Invitation and the Gift
Jesus told stories called parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. A parable is simply a story where one thing is described as something else, something more familiar. And in one of these stories, the Kingdom of Heaven is described as a party!
The king in the story invites a bunch of people to his party, but they refuse to come. The king even sends a second round of invitations, but the people ignore them. So, the king decides to invite other people to his party. He sends out his messengers one more time to invite anyone and everyone they can find, and finally, the king has guests!
But then, the king sees a man who is not wearing the special party clothes like everyone else. Apparently, he refused to take them at the door when they were offered to him. So, the king asks the man why he is not wearing the clothes. The man has no answer, so the king throws him out.
If this party is like the Kingdom of Heaven, what does it tell us about heaven?
Well, it tells us that heaven will be like a party, with plenty of food and fun. But like any party, we have to be invited to come...and we have to respond to the invitation!
Think about the last time you were invited to a party. Did you check your calendar to see if there was something else better to do...or if there was something else you just "had" to do? There are a lot of things that can keep people from accepting God's invitation to his party. Some things might seem more fun; others might seem more important. But the truth is that nothing is more fun OR more important than the party that is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Maybe that part of the story makes sense. But what about that guy who refused to wear the party clothes? Does God really care about what we wear?
Well, no...if we are talking about actual clothes. But remember, this is a parable...and the clothes are describing something else. They are describing righteousness. You see, everyone who comes to the Kingdom of Heaven is given the righteousness of Jesus to wear. Here is another passage from scripture to help you understand...
I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10
The robe of righteousness is a gift from Jesus; it is part of the invitation to the party. God gives it to us to wear so that we can be with him at the party. You see, God is holy and perfect, and we are not. And holy and unholy...well, they cannot be together. They are kind of like oil and water; they just don't mix.
So the problem with the man in the parable who refused the special party clothes is that he didn't think he needed the robe of righteousness. He thought he was good enough without it. He thought he was righteous. So, he refused the free gift God had given to him.
God has given us both an invitation and a gift. When we realize the value of what we have been offered, we can accept both with great excitement!
Read Matthew 22:1-14
This is the parable as Jesus told it.
What details do you find interesting...or maybe even weird?
Talk about them with an adult.
Write thank you cards to the people in your life who are God's messengers, the people inviting you to the Kingdom of Heaven and helping you get to know Jesus. Send them in the mail or deliver them in person!
As you enjoy a meal with your family this week, talk about what heaven will be like as Jesus describes it in this parable. You can even make invitations for each person in your family and ask them to read Matthew 22:1-14 before the meal!