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Whyte's Dictionary of Bible Characters

the Bidden to the Reat Marriage Supper And Some of Their Excuses

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YOU are all bidden to this great marriage supper. The invitations sent out to our marriage suppers have to be limited to the more intimate friends of the bride and the bridegroom. Our largest houses would not hold the half of the friends we would like to see with us on such happy occasions. But there is no such limitation here. You are all bidden to this marriage. And the only limitation tonight lies entirely with yourselves. What, then, is your answer to be tonight?

This is a most extraordinary marriage and marriage supper. And therefore you must not measure what is now to be said about this marriage by what you have seen or heard of the marriages of this world. For there are far better worlds than this world, and there are far better marriages than this world has ever seen. Indeed, this marriage that is in your offer tonight is the only real and true and perfect marriage that has ever been made in this or in any other world, or that ever will be made. You have been dreaming about marriages all your days, but a marriage like this has never entered your most extravagant imaginations. For this is nothing less than the marriage of the Eternal Son of God with your own immortal soul. You, sitting there, are the bride, and Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom. And the Father of the Bridegroom has His heart so much set upon this marriage that he has sent His servant tonight to say to you that all things are now ready. Some of our marriages take a long time to get all things ready. And this great marriage has not by any means been made ready in a day. This marriage was actually proposed and planned for and the preparations began to be made for it before the foundations of this world were laid. You like to read and hear about marriages, and the arranging of marriages, and how the course of true love did, or did not, run smooth. Well, I, like you, have read many love romances in my day, and have delighted in them in my day; but this great love, and the sometimes smooth, and sometimes stormy, course it has had to run, quite out of sight eclipses all other romances to me now. So much so, that I have for long wholly given up reading anything else except about this everlasting love. But this is the immediate and the main point that all things are ready now. All things that the bride needs to make herself ready are ready now. And all things that the Bridegroom needs are ready now. The Father is ready to receive you. The Son stands ready to be for ever united to you, and to have you united to Him. And the Holy Ghost stands beside the Son ready, and book in hand like the minister, to pronounce you the Lamb's wife. And it only remains for you to say yes, or no. It only remains for you to say that your heart within you is as the chariots of Amminadib in the Song of Solomon, and your marriage is consummated, or will be consummated immediately.

This very same message and invitation was once sent to a congregation of people just like yourselves; and they all, with one consent, began to make excuse. We can scarcely believe it about them, but it must be true, else it would not be recorded against them to all time, as it is here recorded. Come, said the servant to those that were bidden: Come, for all things are now ready. But they all, with one consent, began to make excuse. The first said unto the servant, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go to see it; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. You are sometimes like that yourselves among the dinner and supper invitations of our own city. You hear with apprehension sometimes of certain dinners and suppers that are soon to come on. Your hearts are not in those intended entertainments, and you would give anything not to be invited to them. And when you are invited you are at your wits' end how to answer so as not to give an unpardonable offence. You sit at your desk and you bite your pen over your excessively difficult answer. You try one form of answer and you tear it up; the lie is too transparent. 'Thank you,' you at last answer, 'but I have an engagement already on my hands for that very evening. I have done my best to get out of it, but it is impossible.' Or you try this-A friend of yours, that you have not seen for many years, has offered you a visit on that evening on his way through the city and you cannot put him off; or, you have a most important meeting down for that evening and for that hour, at which, indeed, you are already advertised to take the chair. 'Accept my most sincere apology,' you add, 'and convey my best respects to your honoured guest.' The dinner belongs to another political, or ecclesiastical, or civic, party than that to which you belong. There are old sores in your mind against your proposed host as well as against some of the guests who are sure to be there. In short, you cannot and you will not go. Even at the risk of your absence being misunderstood, and taken in ill part, you will not go. 'We will not trouble him again,' say the host and the hostess to one another over your transparent subterfuge; 'he will come the next time he is asked to any dinner of ours.'

Those were clever enough excuses that your predecessors in Israel made. Indeed, they were entirely true excuses, rather than merely clever. For the real truth was they had no heart for that invitation. All their treasure, and consequently all their heart, was elsewhere. The first man's treasure was his newly-bought piece of ground. The second man's treasure was his five yoke of oxen. While the third man had the best treasure and the best excuse of all. For he had a young wife at home, and the dinner was never dressed that would draw him away from her side so soon. Now what is your excuse tonight? You have an excuse that you have sent up as your answer before now; often before now. Is it to be the same excuse and answer tonight again? It is as if an angel had come straight from heaven to you with an invitation addressed to you in his hand. There he is, standing in the passage at the end of your pew. Yes, there he is. It is not the first time I have seen him standing impatiently there. But tonight it may be the last time. When he goes home tonight empty again his Master may well be so angry this time that He may swear that your invitations shall be no longer. 'He is joined to his ground, and to his oxen, and to his wife-let him alone.' And, then, what will all these things do for you against the anger of Almighty God, and against the wrath of the Lamb? Whereas, say Yes! and all things are yours, and you are His, and He is God's. Wait one moment, then, O impatient angel: wait, just wait one moment! And then speed up with your answer to your Lord.

But even that sufficient danger and disaster is not all. There are more men involved in your salvation or damnation than yourselves. Your ministers are almost as much involved as you are. O light-hearted students, go and make your piece of bread in some much safer calling. For God lays this same awful order on all His ministers,-Go, He says, and compel them to come in. Compel is His very word. That is your minister's ordination oath, and if you are lost: if you go on to the end making excuses and refusals, your lost eternity will be at your minister's door, as well as at your own. Your minister must compel you therefore, if he is not to be involved in your ruin. 'Did you do all that it was commanded you to do?'-it will be demanded of him on that day! 'You knew quite well that that man there, and that woman there, were no more saved than were the seats they sat on, and what did you do? Did you let them fall asleep while you delivered my message to them? Did you tell them plainly how it would end with them? Or were you afraid to offend them, and lose their approval and their patronage? Did you demand of them every Sabbath day what provision they had made against death and judgment? Did you preach every sermon of yours as if it were your last and their last? And as if you and they might be summoned before the great white throne at the end of your sermon? Did you compel them to see that there were only two things possible before them-the right hand or the left: heaven or hell: the wrath of the Lamb, or His everlasting love? If you did all that, then you are clear of their blood. But if you did not do all that, and that continually, you are no minister of mine.' O men and women! Be not so inhuman as to drag down your minister with yourselves. Say, at any rate, to God's angel that your minister is not to blame. Say to him that your minister did all that mortal man could do. Say to him that your minister's hands are pure of your blood, and that you alone are without excuse.

This parable, it is much to be feared, will have a very visible fulfilment in this house during the next fortnight. For this day fortnight the marriage supper of the Lamb is to be made ready here. And from tonight onward this call will go forth to all this congregation,-The Lord's Supper is again made ready. Come and partake of it. Prepare yourselves in the ways appointed you, and then come to the Lord's Table. But when the two days of special preparation are come, what will we see here? We will see the church on the Thursday evening, and on the Saturday afternoon, not one-fourth full: till your ministers will be ashamed to have brought two of God's servants to preach to your empty pews. So many intending communicants will, with one consent, begin to make excuse. One will say, The hour is so late. Another will say, The weather is still so unsettled. Another will say, Those services are getting antiquated and out of date and so few people attend them. Another will say, To tell the truth I had wholly forgotten about the communion, and my wife and I have a dinner-party in our house that evening. Another will say, The young people are at their lessons on Thursday night, and they need fresh air on Saturday afternoon, and are away out of the town on their bicycles. And then the ministers and the elders will get such a refreshment and such a preparation from those two services that they will look round and will say to themselves:-Oh, why were so and so not here? What a blessing they have lost. What can they have got elsewhere to make up to them for the loss of such a preparation-service as this has been? And then those who so excused themselves on the Thursday and the Saturday will come up so unprepared on the Sabbath that when the King comes in to see the guests it will be impossible for Him to wink at the state of matters between Him and many who will intrude themselves that day. Till in very faithfulness He will say to them, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? But be not speechless tonight. Come tonight. Say yes tonight. For all things are now ready, wedding garment and all.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Whyte, Alexander. Entry for 'the Bidden to the Reat Marriage Supper And Some of Their Excuses'. Alexander Whyte's Dictionary of Bible Characters. 1901.

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Wednesday, November 25th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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