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Stories of Jesus

Chapter 4: The Stories

Part One: Jesus before Easter

A Story Jesus Told: The Party

With the Kingdom of Heaven it’s like a king giving a wedding feast for his son. He invites all the notable people of the kingdom, the ones who have the most to gain from being on the good side of the future king. They’re all too busy to show up for something as impractical as a wedding feast. They even kill the king’s messengers so they will no longer be distracted from their important work. The king has two responses. First he kills those self-important louts and burns their city. Then he sends his servants out to invite to the wedding anyone they find on the streets until the hall is filled. (Matthew 22:1-14) 

Like many of Jesus’ parables it starts out with a perfectly normal situation that anyone could relate to and suddenly turns totally weird. Even if you could believe the failure of the invited guests to attend, would they really kill the messengers? And why would the king kill them and burn their city?

What could have been the situation in Jesus’ life that caused him to make up such an unlikely tale with such harsh consequences for some and unexpected delights for others? Jesus was preaching a message about God’s Kingdom, and he was getting some negative feedback, to say the least. In the next stories I’ll try to get a grip on the nature of that negative feedback. Meanwhile we learn something about God from a story Jesus told and from what appears to be Jesus’ practice: God likes to party. More precisely, God wants to party with us.

Thinking about the main point: What does this say about God’s love? Do we settle for love’s traditional definition—steadfastly willing the good of another, even when that other doesn’t deserve it and probably won’t return anything like love? That sounds like really hard work. (The Catholic Church recently showed its appreciation for the Protestant insight that we are saved by grace in faith and not by works.) Or is love fundamentally something else? Maybe Jesus’ example of loving contains a lot of simply liking. Maybe liking is part of what Jesus has in mind when he says, “Love your enemies.” Maybe God just likes us?

On to The Miracles