S T O R Y
When Prince William and Kate Middleton began planning their royal wedding, people all over England began clamoring for the honor of attending this lavish event.
Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife were high on the list of non-relatives invited to attend. Other notables included the performer Sir Elton John, soccer player David Beckham and his fashion designer wife Victoria, filmmaker Guy Ritchie, soul singer Joss Stone, and reigning monarchs from Denmark, Belgium, Bulgaria, Lesotho, Norway, and many other countries were invited-and attended.
Since Kate was a commoner, many thought it would be inappropriate not to have some commoners in attendance. So a plan was devised to choose 100 commoners (no royal blood, no position of authority in the country) at random to serve as honored guests at the wedding event.
Commoners who didn’t make the list were deeply disappointed, but the celebration rolled on.
Cheryl, a woman whose family was acquainted with Kate Middleton, was hurt because she didn’t qualify as an invited guest to the wedding. Patricia, a distant relative of Kate’s, tried to console Cheryl in her disappointment.
“Look at it this way,” she said. “If you choose God’s grace and follow Him, you’re automatically on the list of people invited to the greatest wedding feast in all history. Not only that, but your invitation will be validated by a beautiful wedding outfit designed and created just for you. You won’t be a commoner, and neither will anybody else who is there. We’ll all be princes and princesses of royal blood.”
Cheryl thought about that a while. “You’re right, of course. No celebration on earth can be as glorious as the heavenly wedding feast. And we’re all invited. Wow.”
NOTE: Cheryl and Patricia are invented characters
1. Evil among us. Do you have a problem with the thought opening the lesson this week that people who consider themselves Christians have been mean and hurtful in the past and that more damage will be done by such people before Jesus comes? What is so troubling about this statement? Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? Are you sure you are one? Will people who think they are Christians be wiped out in the final destruction? Should we be frightened by messages such as these? If not fright, what should our feelings be when we are warned that we can fool ourselves about our spiritual life? Can we be confident Christians? How?
2. As foolish as we are. Have you ever heard a fellow believer speak of “the truth” when referring to Seventh-day Adventist doctrines? Isn’t that proper? Aren’t our church’s teachings truth in its entirety? Or is something besides doctrinal “truth” needed for us to represent Christ in this world? If so, what? Jesus seemed to think that with all their piety and good works, the chief priests and Pharisees were woefully lacking in key dimensions of their faith. How did they respond when Jesus told them their future because of their sins? By whom was Jesus’ life saved at that moment-Religious leaders? Or commoners? Do you pray for our church’s pastors and denominational leaders and workers? What is your prayer?
3. No, thanks. Imagine that you were invited to the royal wedding in the UK a short while ago. Would you get in a huff and send a note back that said, “No thanks. I wouldn’t go to that wedding if it’s the only display of royalty in my lifetime”? Compare the grandeur of the heavenly wedding feast to William and Kate’s wedding and ask yourself, “How could I refuse a personal invitation to the celebration of the ages?” Indeed, how could you? Why do people every day push Jesus out of their lives? Are you ever tempted to plan and work on your own rather than working in total surrender to Jesus? Why are we so determined to edge Jesus out of our lives?
4. At the feast. Why doesn’t anybody want to come to the wedding? What is the response to the second invitation? How would you feel if you planned a celebration at a nice restaurant, invited twenty guests, asked for an RSVP from them, and none responded? You’re willing to spend a handsome sum for an enjoyable meal, but your guests turn up their nose. Does Jesus have feelings about those who reject Him? Does He care about being turned away as long as He has some who want to follow Him? Back to the parable, what was the single requirement for invited guests to come in and enjoy the feast? What does that wedding garment represent?
5. Questions without answers. Does Jesus know the condition of our hearts? Does He know if we’re “safe to save?” Then why, of all beings in the universe, does Jesus decide to examine each candidate for heaven to see if he or she is worthy? Doesn’t He know this already? Or does someone else need to know? Do you have questions right now about the worthiness of certain individuals for eternal life with Jesus? How do you feel about leaving it to Jesus to make the final decision? At the end of time when Jesus comes, will we see clearly the holy wedding as the ultimate judgment, the “investigative judgment?”
6. Persecution. Can faith ever be a masquerade for wickedness? How do you feel when you read the horrific details of Jesus’ last few hours? Why do religious people seem so intent on inflicting bodily harm on those who disagree with them? Or is that an artifact of the past? Are you afraid of the possibility of persecution for your faith? Should you be? Why or why not? Doesn’t Satan know that the more he persecutes the true in heart, the more revivals there will be? Does he have other methods besides torture or physical threats to keep us from holding on to the Spirit of Christ that longs to live within us?
Have a blessed Sabbath!