Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

‘For many are called, but few are chosen.’


‘Rejoice in the Lord
always: and again, I say, rejoice.’ ‘For the kingdom of heaven may be compared
to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.’

This is the wedding feast of the Incarnation, the wedding of
the divine nature with the human through the Virgin ‘full of grace’. And what
is a wedding but the occasion for the greatest joy? ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ ‘Behold, the dwelling place
of God is with men.’

‘And the King sent his
servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast,’
For in the
ages prior to that ‘birth forever blessed’ God had called to his people by the
words of the prophets to draw near unto
the Lord while he may be found.
Century upon century did he raise up
servants, then to call Israel to repentance, then to glorify them with His
divine presence in the wedding of the
marriage Feast of the Lamb in his Kingdom.
For indeed, the entire Old
Testament is as a millennia long preparation for that day when the human nature
would call out to the divine ‘let him
kiss me with the kisses of his mouth’
when ‘the virgin would conceive, and give birth.’

And yet, the parable continues, ‘they would not come.’ For they
hardened their hearts
. Indeed, they
were a stiff necked people.
Yet the
mercy of the Lord endures forever.
And so God, in His forbearance and
longsuffering patience did not punish them for their ignorance, ‘that none should be lost, but that all
should come to a knowledge of the truth.’

Again he sent other
servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner,
my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come
to the wedding feast.”’
See now the fullness
of time has passed
and Holy Mary brought
forth her firstborn son and laid him in a manger.
God the Father again
sends out servants to call his people to rejoice
in the Lord
for the Incarnation of his son. To Zacharias and Joseph sent He
Gabriel. To the Shepherds he sent his heavenly host to declare unto them ‘good tidings of great joy.’ To Herod and
all Jerusalem God sent the magi, gentiles to announce to the Jews that the time
of their waiting was complete, that the Messiah had come, God taking on flesh.

And what should the Jews and their leaders have said upon hearing this news?
They should have confessed those words given to them by the prophet Isaiah: ‘Lo this is our God; we have waited for him,
and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad
and rejoice in his salvation.’

But what was their response? ‘Herod
the king had heard these things, and was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem
with him.’ ‘And the chief priests and the scribes and the elders of the people
[…]consulted together, that they might take Jesus by deceit and kill him.’ ‘And
from that time on, the Scribes and Pharisees sought an opportunity against

So they seized his
servant, treated him shamefully, and killed him.
They crucified the Lord of Glory.

Now we see the Passion of our Lord in this servant, treated
shamefully, and killed. For the Son of God is the servant of the Father, even
as in last week’s parable, having sent servant after servant, the master sends
his Son as the greatest of his servants. So the suffering servant and the Son
are one; and now between the last parable, and this parable, they have both
been killed. The father invites: ‘My oxen
and my fat calves have been slaughtered.’
The Lord Jesus declares ‘It is finished.’ ‘Everything is ready.’

‘Then he said to his servants,’ that is, to the holy Apostles, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ That is, ‘go unto all nations, baptizing, and teaching them all that I have commanded.’  And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. Through the Apostle’s ministry and the office of the keys, through the proclamation of God’s word and the announcement of his divine grace and calling, we, who are evil, yet now also good, being justified by grace, are gathered into the Church of God.  So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

You have heard the rest of the parable. Now I ask you a question, there is the father, there is the wedding, there are the guests, but where is the Son?

I told you at the beginning, this wedding is the feast of the Incarnation, the taking up of human nature into the divine Son of God.

Where is the Son in this parable? He is in the wedding garment, for the garment is His righteousness by which we are covered and made just before the judgement seat of God, made worthy of the glory of the Father’s feast. By this covering, we receive everything that is Christ’s: we receive his glory, his righteousness, his justice, his grace, his forgiveness, even as a bride receives all that is her husband’s.

Where is the Son in the parable?  He is laid over every wedding guest, he is
united to every one of you in faith through the saving font of Baptism. He
covers every casket.’ Christ himself is the wedding garment whom we have put
on, even as it is written: ‘You are all
now God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as have
been baptized have put on Christ.’

But if it is the case that the bride receives all that is the bridegrooms
in marriage, is it not also true that the bridegroom receives all that is the

So Christ did receive all that was ours, as our scape-goat, our sin bearer. He became sin for us, receiving in
himself the manifold evils which plague all fallen human existence. And, being made man, he endured all that was
due to man, yet without sin. This is
the true meaning of the Incarnation, in celebration of which the Father throws
a feast. Christ, being made man, was born as we are. Christ, being made man, was tempted as we are. Christ, being
made man, suffered that debt which was owed by man; with blood did he pay, and
with agony did he reckon the accounts. ‘He
was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the
chastisement of our peace was upon him.’

Again I ask, where is the Son in this parable? ‘When the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who
had no wedding garment.
Here we see Christ who has become man, has given us
the garment of his righteousness, for it is written: ‘if anyone ask for your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And in
giving us His cloak of innocence, He then put on the garment of our guilt. The
clothing not of a wedding, but of eternal divorce.  ‘And the king said to him,
‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was
For ‘as a lamb to the
slaughter, he opened not his mouth.’

‘Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot’ Even as it is
written of Isaac ‘Abraham bound his son.’
Even as it was commanded of the lambs of sacrifice. ‘And they cast him into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and
gnashing of teeth.’
Thus do we confess of our Lord who was made man, who
was made sin, ‘he descended into hell.’

In his descent into hell, the Incarnation of the Lord is made complete, for
everything that we owed, he suffered, even the death of hell.

But it is written: ‘Many are called, but
few are chosen.’
Indeed, few are chosen, for One is chosen, Our Lord, the
Christ, who is victorious over death and hell. See his great victory, he enters
bound, in weakness and frailty, into the outer darkness, there to destroy
death, there to sack hell, even as we feast, wrapped in the garments of his merit
and righteous love.

For the Wedding Feast of the Incarnation ends with the Wedding Feast of the
Resurrection, where Jesus, the new Adam, being alone found just in the sight of
the Father, is raised from death and chosen to be God’s own, and all who believe
in Christ with him and in him. Thus we are brought to the Father and to his
feast in the flesh of Christ, guarded by the robe of his righteousness. For Our
champion, Jesus, the Christ, has ‘swallowed
up death in his victory’ and has made our joy complete.
Therefore, the Lord of hosts makes unto all people a
feast of fat things, a feast of wines of the lees.
Our Savior Jesus brings
to us ‘fat things full of marrow, and
wine well refined.’

Declare, therefore, O Guests of the Wedding Feast of the King of the
Universe, declare: ‘This is our God; we
have waited for him, and he has saved us. We will be glad, and rejoice in his

‘Rejoice in the Lord always; and again, I say, rejoice.’


Preached by Pastor Fields

Sermon Texts: Isaiah
25:6-9; Philippians 4:4-13; Matthew 22:1-14.