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Matthew 22:1-14, Wedding Banquet

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
— Matthew 22:3

NL Daily Devotion for Sunday, March 24, 2019

by Dr. Kimberly Leetch, Clergy Stuff

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Main Idea: Jesus desires to “rehumanize” dehumanized populations.

Jesus was speaking into a politically and religiously volatile climate. The Jewish religious leaders were collaborating with the Roman political leaders to keep the peace. Israel was occupied by Rome, but to survive, they needed to make sacrifices. It was not unheard of that Rome would plunder small towns in search of taxes, and when the taxes could not be paid, they would take citizens to become slaves as payment. And Israel did little (perhaps could do little) to stop it.

Humans are psychologically hard-wired not to harm other human beings. We just can’t do it. So how do people harm others? By dehumanizing them. We can harm things that are not people. Dehumanizing populations within Jewish communities was the only way to make what was happening palatable. The ones most likely to be dehumanized were the ones without power—widows, the sick, the poor, the disabled, children.

Jesus wanted to put an end to the dehumanization of people. His parable condemned those who were so busy going about their daily routines that they had become hardened to the humanness of their sisters and brothers. Like a king inviting guests to a wedding banquet, God invited God’s children to participate fully in the community. But those in power weren’t having it. So, like the king, God opened the banquet to any who were willing to make the internal and external shift that “rehumanizes” all people. This meant opening doors, not only for Jews in power, but for gentiles, for the marginalized, and for anyone willing to open their hearts.

It was not enough, though, just to show up. They had to dress the part (they had to respect the wedding and its guests). It was not enough for people to follow Jesus around. They had to work to make that shift happen within themselves and in their communities. Jesus expected people to change how they behaved, spoke, and even thought. It was necessary for rehumanizing the populations. It was necessary for the coming together of God’s children—all of them.