Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Sermon on Matthew 22:11-14

This is a sermon I prepared for an advanced preaching course on the parable of the man without a wedding garment (Matt 22:11-14), which is the last scene in the parable of the wedding banquet (22:1-14). I will be preaching it tomorrow afternoon. I would appreciate both your prayers and your constructive criticism.

What Are You Wearing?

"But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.

"Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are invited, but few are chosen."
(Matt 22:11-14)

The scene at the White House was astonishing. The President of the United States was pacing his office in subdued anger. Flared nostrils and wide eyes contrasted sharply with his distinguished Armani tuxedo and platinum cuff links. It was December 15, day one of a three-day celebration for the marriage of the President’s only son. The overlap of the Christmas season and a White House wedding made for an extraordinarily lavish occasion. The President should have already taken his place in the grand foyer to welcome his many distinguished guests. But he was on the phone with his assistant and something wasn’t right.

“What do you mean they’re not coming? Who’s not coming? When did they call you? They ‘texted’ you? They sent you text messages?” Text messages. Some of the most important leaders and political representatives in the world—European ambassadors, African diplomats, and South Asian dignitaries—sent the President of the United States text messages begging off their attendance on the day of his son’s wedding.

The pacing President was a mixture of emotions: hurt, embarrassed, and enraged. This was a personal insult. This was an intentional humiliation. So many important guests, so many ill-timed rebuffs—this was more than just a “scheduling conflict.”

The President’s rage lasted only a few minutes, though. He would deal with them later. He had a wedding to celebrate. He couldn’t fume over these betrayals when three days of feasting, dancing, and entertainment awaited him and his family. But, how could he celebrate with an almost empty party? And, where could he get more guests at such a late hour?

Within minutes the President made up his mind. He would invite all the people of the community in Washington, DC. Yes, it’s a little crazy and the Secret Service will hate it, but his son is getting married. He must have a full house, an overflowing party, to commemorate the occasion. And, who would enjoy such a party more than his less-than-privileged neighbors?
That very hour, hundreds of invitations were hand-delivered by White House staff persons throughout the surrounding neighborhoods. Even the roughest parts of town were paid a visit. Everyone was invited: sanitation workers on their rounds, bank tellers behind glass windows, teenagers playing hacky sack, and even an old woman planting silk daffodils in her front yard. Everyone was invited.

At first, most thought the invitations were a scam. But, the serious faces of the deliverers told them that this was the real deal. Though shocked and even a little scared, most busied themselves getting ready, changing from work clothes to their “Sunday best.” For some that meant twenty year-old polyester suits with ill-fitting brown trousers and coats that won’t button. For others, polka-dotted navy sundresses, worn cream-colored loafers and pitifully lop-sided braids. Yes, the grotesque parade of mismatched hats, dress shoes, and evening bags winding hastily down Pennsylvania Avenue was enough to give Joan Rivers a stroke.

But, to the President, who desperately desired to celebrate his son’s marriage, the procession was a gratifying sight. Sure, many among the crowd came merely to pick at platters of fruit and cheese, enjoy a mouth-watering filet mignon, and top off their full bellies with chocolate custard and cheesecake. But, most felt honored to be summoned to such an event. They could bring nothing for the bride and groom. Yet, their gratitude, their innocent, wide-eyed delight, was enough. Looking over the crowded, candle-lit ballroom, teeming with excited and talkative revelers, the President was infinitely satisfied.

But, one among the bunch had not spent any time in front of the mirror. His heather grey sweat suit boasted a number of brownish blotches, all of which corresponded quite well with his ruddy leather house shoes. One prominent stain near the neck smelled of barbeque sauce, a remnant of his lunchtime McRib. The man’s hair was greasy and matted under his Redskins ball cap, having seen neither comb nor soap in many days.

Spotting the unkempt man at a table of caviar and cheese, the President was confused. “Poor man. Does he not know where he is? Perhaps there’s been some mistake.” He spoke to him in a concerned tone: “Hello, friend. How did you happen to come to our party this way? You do know this is a wedding, right?” The man said nothing, but stared at the President blankly. He finished shoving a cracker piled with caviar into his gaping mouth and washed it down with a gulp of champagne. The awkward silence and apathetic gaze of the man betrayed the truth: The man knew exactly where he was. And, he didn’t care that he was out of place.

Dismayed at the man’s rudeness, the President motioned to a pair of muscled men in black suits. Despite their professional demeanor, they had no problem forcibly escorting the bewildered man from the party. When he put up a fight, yelling pitifully and clutching his invitation, they dragged him by the armpits and toss him into the dank alley. When he finally recovered, struggling to stand amidst piles of full garbage bags, the man thoughtlessly picked cracker crumbs off his sweatshirt. He pulled up his sagging sweatpants and shrugged. “So, this is what the alley of the White House looks like.”

A little less than two thousand years ago, Jesus told a similarly strange story, recorded for us in Matt 22:1-14. Many have speculated as to the identity of those who were first invited to the banquet but later deemed “unworthy.” And, many have focused upon the generous nature of the king’s second invitation, summoning “good and bad” to join the celebration. But today, we will focus upon the last scene of the story, the one that makes you uncomfortable, the one that you might have left out if you had a hand in editing the Gospels.

Darkness, weeping, and gnashing teeth is not the way you want Jesus to end a parable about God’s kingdom The man without a wedding garment came to a party but ended up in hell. Poor guy. We can’t help but pity the underdressed man and question the king’s punishment. The king’s servants had urged him to come to the banquet. Even though he was at the edge of town, even though he was on the fringes of society, they wanted him to come. Should a man like this be expected to dress appropriately? And, should the king care so much about what his guests wear as long as they come to the party? Isn’t God’s banquet—God’s kingdom—about grace? Are we not meant to come “just as we are”?

As we hurl these questions at the pages of Matthew’s gospel, an uncomfortable truth stares back at us: There is more than one way to respond unworthily to God’s invitation. There is more than one way to miss God’s kingdom. God’s chief desire is to gather worthy guests for his Son’s banquet. The one who arrives at the banquet without the right clothes, without the evidence of righteousness, is just as unworthy as the one who rejects the invitation outright. And, both will be excluded.

The royal banquet Jesus describes in Matt 22 would have been a tremendously expensive, and complicated affair. The king’s household would have been occupied for months with the planning, storing, arranging, and managing of such festivities. As his servants made preparations, the contents of the storehouses would boggle the mind and assault the senses: giant vats of olive oil, huge stone jars of wine and beer, crate after crate of dried fruits and nuts, and sealed ceramic jars of sharp-smelling spices and salted meats.

The list of musicians, jokers, dancers, and other performers employed to entertain the revelers would have been a foot long, costing almost as much as the food. When the first day of the feast arrived, the halls of the king’s palace would be filled with all manner of exotic birds and lizards, enclosed in gilded cages for the sole purpose of titillating the king’s guests. The seven-day gala would have been a momentous occasion in the life of the kingdom as they honored the heir to the throne.

But, the lengths to which the first-century monarch would go to host a royal wedding does not even begin to compare to the lengths taken by God to prepare for the Great Banquet at the end of the age. Indeed, you have been invited not to a seven-day gala event, but to an eternal celebration of the coronation of the King of Kings.

With the death and resurrection of Jesus, we acknowledge and proclaim his victory over evil, sin, and death even now. But we await the final realization of this reality in all its fullness at the end of history. Now, with groaning and great travail, those of us who have responded to his invitation anticipate the time when God will set all things right and bring to completion the reconciliation of all things. We are invited to the final banquet of God. We are to be honored, worthy guests at the wedding supper of God’s Son.

You can see why the king in Jesus story would come and “look over” or “inspect,” his many guests. Surely you can agree that it is good and right for the king to desire worthy guests at such a party. He deserves guests who appreciate the finery set before them and who honor their host with a joyful heart and festive attire. Now then, if an earthly monarch deserves to be honored with festive clothes and merry hearts, how much more so does the eternal King of Kings! Knowing the magnificent banquet that awaits us at the end of the age, how can we possibly defend the slovenly man in the parable? Does not our defense, our sympathy with his plight, put us at odds with the king—at odds with God?

On the surface, the man’s appearance may have been little worse than some of the poor attempts at finery present in the banquet hall. But, there’s a major difference. The others, despite their tattered clothes, understood the nature of the king’s invitation. Honored by the summons to celebrate with him, they took time to find something to wear, maybe even begging or borrowing to do so. Doubtless, some still looked like people off the streets, but they rejoiced with royalty because they came to the banquet prepared to celebrate.

Yet, the lone man’s clothes betray his indifference to the king. No, its more than indifference—its contempt. It’s a passive-aggressive rejection of the king’s party. He is present. He is eating the food. He is drinking the wine. He is watching the merriment. But, he is just as bad as those who rebuffed the king’s rule with a last-minute refusal—maybe even worse. He is declining to celebrate with the king and he does so while standing in his presence. By attending a wedding festival in his grubby house clothes, the man has silently revealed his allegiance. And the king should be offended. He must be offended.

But, here is the difficulty, my friends. If we would be honest with ourselves, we would see that we sympathize with the underdressed man because we identify with his easy-going frivolity. We know God’s grace is wide and welcoming. We know God’s generosity is endless. We know God’s mercy endures forever. Why not relax and enjoy the benefits of the Kingdom? Why not come to God’s party just as we are? The answer is in the parable: Your wedding garment is your tribute to the king. Without it, you are an unworthy wedding crasher, fit for nothing but the trash-filled alley.

We know that it is the grace of God, which invites us to take a place in God’s kingdom. But, we are less likely to acknowledge is that it is our righteousness, which proves that we belong there. We don’t want to admit it, but the cliched judgment scenarios will never happen. God will not ask you, "What did you do with my Son?" Jesus will not stand as your defense attorney in a celestial courtroom in the sky. And, being a Christian will not get you a "pass" on standing before God.

No. The testimony of the New Testament is clear: you will be judged based upon your righteousness—based upon your wedding garments. In the Apocalypse, the faithful witnesses, who serve Christ unto death, prepare for the “wedding supper of the Lamb” by clothing themselves in “righteous works.” They receive the right to walk with Jesus in “white” and return with him robed in fine linen, “white and clean.” It is time to ask yourself, what are you wearing?

Even in our age of increasing casualness, we know instinctively that clothing and appearance is vital, especially for significant occasions. On January 27, 2005, world leaders gathered in southern Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The day was blustery and snowy, but the ceremony at the Nazi death camp was held outdoors. Most of those in attendance, including French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin, made the best of the weather, wearing dark formal overcoats and dress shoes or boots, balancing the need for warmth with the dignity of the event.

But, there was one in the crowd who didn’t fit in. Perhaps you recall the sadly humorous photos. In a sea of black-coated, distinguished world leaders, Vice President Cheney wore a bulging olive-grey parka with his name emblazoned across the front and a fluffy, fur-trimmed hood. Beneath the hood, he wore a navy knit ski cap, embroidered with the words “Staff 2001,” and on his feet were bulky, lace-up hiking boots. In any other context, the Vice President’s clothing would have been ideal. But, in a solemn, memorial ceremony, honoring the tens of thousands killed at Auschwitz, Cheney’s apparel was embarrassingly out of place. One journalist had this to say:

There is little doubt that intellectually Cheney approached the Auschwitz ceremony with thoughtfulness and respect. But symbolism is powerful. That’s why the piercing cry of a train whistle marked the beginning of the ceremony and the glare of searchlights signaled its end. The vice president might have been warm in his parka, ski cap and hiking boots. But they had the unfortunate effect of suggesting that he was more concerned with his own comfort than the reason for braving the cold at all.

Indeed, in the banquet of God, your clothing indicates your understanding of the celebration. Your clothes reveal that you have accepted the invitation and you are willing to join the King in his joy. If you arrive at the wedding supper of God’s Son underdressed, you reveal that you are under-whelmed with the occasion, not considering it of enough importance to make proper preparations. The one who will not array him or herself in the finest clothing for the king’s party must be shown the door. He or she is unworthy. And, missing God’s celebration is much worse than being tossed into the alley of the White House. “Weeping and gnashing of teeth,” indicate that exclusion from the light and joy of God’s presence is the consequence for a slovenly appearance.

So, what about you? What are you wearing? The wedding banquet of the Son is coming. We will gather at his festive table and join in the celebration of the rule of God. Grace has invited us to enter in. The doors are flung wide and the servants of the king await our arrival. But, there is more than one way to miss God’s Kingdom. There is more than one way to respond unworthily to God’s invitation. You can refuse outright. Or, you can arrive in the sloppy clothes of an unworthy dissident. The King is coming to inspect his guests. What are you wearing?

As one in attendance at the banquet of God, you must take on the garb of righteousness, the robes of good works, which are the evidence that you belong in the kingdom. It’s so easy for us, for ministers of the Gospel, to forget about our own appearance as we instruct others in the Way. I urge you: Put on linen robes of holiness. Adorn your head with garlands of worship. Dress your sleeves in flowing folds of peace. Embroider your fabrics with stitching of proclamation and truth. Affix to your hem tassels of healing and brilliant beading of liberation. Wrap yourself in scarves of justice and ornament your arms and neck with golden bangles of wisdom.

Do not miss God’s celebration by rushing into the kingdom with garments disheveled and unkempt. Do not spurn God’s invitation and rebuff God’s grace by ignoring the formation of your character and the performance of righteousness. The King is coming to look over his guests. He is seeking worthy attendants at his Son's marriage supper. What are you wearing?
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*The inset picture is of a third century fresco, “Fractio Panis" (the breaking of bread) in the Greek Chapel in the Catacomb of St. Priscilla.

15 comments:

Lory said...

this is good stuff emily. really good. thanks for sharing.

Rex Ray said...

Just read your post. I think the main clue of why the man was thrown out of the party, was he was not wearing a wedding garment.

The question arises what was the garment? There were probably bums there dirtier than he was, but they had a wedding garment.

I believe the Living Bible gives the answer: “But when the king came in to meet the guests he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the wedding robe [provided for him].”

When the man came to the party, there may have been a sign saying, “Please put on one of these robes as they are required to enter the party.”

The man showed his contempt at being told what to wear, and he insulted the king by disobeying.

The required ‘robe’, provided by God, to enter heaven is accepting Jesus.

Rex Ray said...

Emily,
Friend how did you get in here without wedding clothes?, is an impossible situation but Jesus wanted to show the reality of what would happen if it did occur.

It is the same context of Hebrews (10:29: KJ) “Of how much sorer punishment, SUPPOSE ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”

This ‘suppose’ does not mean a person could be saved and then lost. It is kin to the word ‘imagine’ and is the same situation of the man being at the party without wedding clothes.

The wedding clothes provided by Father cost his Son his life whom he removed from hell after three days and lifted up to enjoy for eternity the guest at the wedding party.

The wedding clothes changed the sorrowful hearts of the guest into joy and happiness. They loved the Son and rejoiced in his Glory.

But the man had spit in the Son’s face by rejecting the cloths, and had been one of those who had killed the king’s messengers. No wonder he was cast into hell.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Rex,

Thanks for your comment.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you (and the Living Bible). There is no evidence in the ancient near east or the scripture that the king (or party host) would provide a wedding garment to those in attendance at his banquet. It suits our theology better to suggest that the robe was provided, but its just not in the text. In my study, I've found that this idea originate with Augustine, who was presumably attempting to import Pauline theology into a tough "works" parable in Matthew.

It seems clear that, in Matthew's theology, the man was as responsible for coming in his best clothes (whatever they were), as the ten virgins were for keeping oil in their lamps. There was no "qualification" for the invitees to come to the King's banquet. He invited "good and bad." The only thing he expected was for them to truly come to the banquet to celebrate--symbolized by festive attire. The man came to the banquet without that and, therefore, revealed that he was unworthy of being there.

Grace and peace, Rex,

Emily

Rex Ray said...

Emily,
King James and the Living both identify the clothing worn as a special (“wedding garment”, and “wedding robe”).

The guests were brought from the highways and street corners. They did not say, “I’ve got to go home, take a bath, and put on my best clothes. Some did not have a home. All the clothes that some had were on their backs. Was the drunk in the gutter invited? You bet he was (“good and bad”).

The picture is the servants did not hand out invitations or bring them in one by one. The picture is they rounded them up as cattle and brought the herd to the party at one time.

The king expected how they would be dressed—some with suits and some with rags, so he made a wedding robe or a wedding garment and all would be dressed alike and fit for the occasion.

In the first place, Jesus did not have to make his parable of the marriage feast fit the evidence in the ancient near east or anyplace else.

In the second place, you say “There is no evidence in the scripture that the king would provide a wedding garment.” Do you mean what I’m saying is no evidence?

And the last place and most important of all: we agree that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Right? Was the man cast into hell, because his cloths were not good enough, or because he refused the wedding garment?

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Rex,

You seem to be importing elements from Luke's parable of the great banquet into Matthew's parable of the wedding banquet. There is no sense in Matthew's version that the people were "gathered" off the streets in a hurry, with no time to go home. There's no "cattle herding" in the parable at all. In fact, with most marriage banquets lasting 7 days or more, they would have had plenty of time to ready themselves to go--they would have been expected to do so.

The man is cast into hell because he did not arrive to the banquet ready to celebrate with the king. By coming without proper clothing, he was insulting the king at his own party. And, just like the king had a right to sack the city of leaders who insulted him by refusing to come, the king had a right to cast out the man who insulted him by coming dressed inappropriately. That makes sense in and of itself. We don't need to suppose that the man was given a garment in order to explain it.

Perhaps we are uncomfortable with the way the NT instructs us about judgment when we read it honestly. Salvation is by grace, but judgment will be based on our righteousness--the evidence of our salvation. From Jesus to Paul to James to John, the testimony is the same. We will be judged by God on our works because they are what evidence that we have been regenerated and redeemed by grace.

I'm sorry that we are not agreeing about this, Rex. I hope you can appreciate where I'm coming from. If you would like to read the exegesis I prepared on this text before I wrote the sermon, I would be happy to send it to you.

Grace and peace,

Emily

Rex Ray said...

Emily,
Glad you brought up the parable of Luke’s banquet because the two parables teach the same message.
They tell the history of the Jews rejecting God and how God has prepared a banquet and a marriage feast for all to enter heaven.

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.” (Matthew 22:2 Holman)

“Then the master told the slave, ‘Go out to the highways and lanes and MAKE THEM COME IN…” (Luke 14:10 Holman)

“So those slaves went out on the roads and GATHERED EVERYONE they found, both evil and good.” (Matthew 22:10 Holman)

Emily, how can you say? “There is no sense in Matthew’s version that the people were ‘gathered’ off the streets in a hurry, with no time to go home…banquets lasting 7 days…plenty of time…”

I’m afraid if you had reported back to the king with no people, you might have lost your head because your orders were: “Make them come…gather everyone…”

Both Matthew and Luke said: “Everything is ready” (the food was getting cold …no time to get prettied up… so the people were to come as they were.)

Both tell the Gospel of how people are brought to heaven. The marriage feast explains more in detail of how a wedding garment is required. That garment is accepting Jesus, and the man that rejected the garment was cast into hell.

Since “…all of our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) how will our ‘works’ be judged to make us right with God?

There is not one thing we can do to earn righteousness and salvation. Both are bought by Calvary. We are made right by the washing of the blood of Christ. “And even trusting is not or yourselves, it too is a gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

You mentioned James and works. If you want to know my thinking on his works, you'll have to read my Truth of Acts. In short, I believe if James had never been raised a Nazirite, Catholics would have never gotten off the ground.

I’m sorry, but I don’t even know what “exegesis” means.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Thanks for your careful thoughts, Rex. I guess we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

I think that when you read Matthew's gospel without using Paul's theology as a lens, you find that salvation is by grace, but judgment is by works. That being the case, I don't need to imagine a wedding garment given to the dinner guests, because if the wedding garment is righteous works (performed by those "invited"--"called" to the banquet) then, they are responsible for bringing their own. But, the only way they can bring their garment of righteousness is that they have been called, summoned, invited to the banquet. To me, that's grace and works balanced in one great story.

Thanks again for interacting with me about this.

BTW: Exegesis is a word for the results of an in-depth study in a particular Bible passage. Usually, it contains explanations of words and phrases in the original language, consideration of historical backgrounds, and the contribution of several important commentators. Now that you know what it is, if you want to see it, let me know. :)

Grace and peace,

Emily

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Carney,

It went well, actually. It was the first sermon I've done that I haven't wanted to puke beforehand. I consider that a victory. :)

Josh, I am surprised at how much I enjoy preaching. I thought I would hate it and stink at it, but I don't. That's a grace-filled surprise from God, I think.

What's it like for you to be someone very book-smart and well-read, but ministering in a local church as a "teaching pastor"? I would love to pick your brain about how you went from pursuing a PhD to doing what you are doing now.

Grace and peace to you, Olive Oil, and Popeye,

Emily

Rex Ray said...

Emily,
We seem to be talking apples and oranges. I’m talking salvation and you’re talking judgment.

In a conversation, I have been guilty of not listening because I was thinking of what I wanted to say next.

It seems you have been doing that since you don’t reply to my statements. How can we agree to disagree if you don’t tell me how you disagree with them?

Will you take this true/false test?

1. The ‘wedding feast’ of Matthew and the ‘banquet’ of Luke represent heaven.
2. The king and the master represent God.
3. Those that refused to come in Matthew and Luke represented God’s chosen race—Jews.
4. Those found on roads (evil and good) in Matthew and those found in streets, and alleys (poor, maimed, blind, and lame) in Luke represent Gentiles or the whole world.
5. “Gather everyone” in Matthew and “make them come” in Luke represents the Holy Spirit calling us to God.
6. The “wedding garment” in Matthew represents Calvary—a gift of salvation.
7. The man without the “wedding garment” represents those who reject Jesus as their savior.
8. The question “How did you get in here without wedding clothes?” represents a hypothetical question of how would a lost man get in heaven, and he was cast out.

Emily, yes I would like to see your exegesis on two words: “wedding garment” or “wedding clothes”.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Rex Ray,

I am doing my best to listen to you. I'm sorry if I have communicated otherwise.

I think that the fundamental difference between us is that you are allegorizing the parable. I do not think that we should allegorize the parables unless Jesus instructs us to do so.

In this case, there is no need for an allegory because the narrative speaks the message without one: God will punish those who respond unworthily to his invitation to the messianic banquet. There are two ways to respond unworthily: not to come at all and to come in the wrong clothes.

If you will send me your email address, I can email you my exegesis. I would rather do that over email so that I don't have to try to type all my thoughts in a comment stream.

Grace and peace,

Emily

Rex Ray said...

Emily,
My father used to tell me, “You’re always right, but when you are wrong, you’re 100% wrong.”

The Holman Bible names these words of Jesus as “The parable of the wedding banquet” and “The parable of the Large Banquet”.

Do we agree that these are parables?

Do we agree a parable is an earthy story with a heavenly meaning?

An allegory is the heavenly meaning. Right?

Your allegory of the story is “God will punish those who respond unworthily to his invitation to the messianic banquet.”

But you tell me I should not allegory the story because: “I do not think that we should allegorize the parables unless Jesus instructs us to do so.”

Isn’t that is a little hypocritical and besides; where does Jesus tell us not to know the heavenly meaning of his parables?

My email is RexRay@fanninelectric.com

How many true/false statements did you answer true?

I thought I posted this. If I did and you don’t want it, I’ll not post it again.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Yes, a parable is an earthly story, but I'm not so sure we're on the same page about "heavenly meanings."

An allegory is a "heavenly meaning," as you say, but more than that, it is one that is derived from someplace other than the historical, cultural, and grammatical context of the text--usually from the interpreter's imagination. As my professors love saying, "A text without a context is a pretext."

It is unwise to use allegory in Bible interpretation because there is no way of "checking" your interpretation. For example, Augustine allegorized the wood of the ark of covenant saying that its "spiritual meaning" was the cross of Christ. And, Origen allegorized the parable of the pearl, saying that the pearl was Jesus.

So, if you are saying that all parables ("earthly stories") are allegories ("heavenly meanings"), the we disagree. I believe the parables have a meaning that is historically, culturally, and grammatically accessible from within the story itself. So, I do not need to import other ideas or explanations into them.

I will email my work to you, Rex, so you can take a look at it.

Have a blessed Lord's day,

Emily

Rex Ray said...

Emily,
You got off to a good start on replying to my last comment.

Yes, I see your point about my saying a parable has a ‘heavenly meaning’ is not correct.

Would we be on the same page if I said, ‘a parable teaches truth’?

If we agree on that, will you comment on the true/false test?

I think we are close when you implied the party was the “messianic banquet” and I said it was “heaven.”

Michael Martin said...

This is a great article. I ran across it while preparing a sermon on the must of Moral Change for Christians. I have a question concerning a statement you made in one of your responding comments:

"Salvation is by grace, but judgment will be based on our righteousness--the evidence of our salvation. From Jesus to Paul to James to John, the testimony is the same. We will be judged by God on our works because they are what evidence that we have been regenerated and redeemed by grace."

My question: How does current provision for forgiveness and future judgement play out? How can we be judged for what we have been forgiven for?