The Gospel of Matthew

That ‘going on holiday soon’ feeling

This devotional is written by Nick Hatter. Nick is a leading integrated psychotherapeutic life coach, and the author of The 7 Questions, which is being published by Piatkus (Hachette), in January 2022. He has featured on Vogue, Tatler, Forbes, BBC, Men’s Health, national TV and radio. Visit www.nickhatter.com to find out more about him. 

Matthew 22:1-14

The parable of the wedding banquet

22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 'The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 'Then he sent some more servants and said, "Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet."

5 'But they paid no attention and went off - one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 'Then he said to his servants, "The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find." 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 'But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, "How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?" The man was speechless.

13 '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."

14 'For many are invited, but few are chosen.'

Reflection

Remember that feeling of when you know you’re going on holiday soon? For me, it often gives me much joy and excitement. Despite our sufferings today, whether it's sickness, mental illness or addiction, we have something that sustains us: an eternal feast to look forward to.

Our short life on Earth is like staying in an uncomfortable 2-star hotel (with bad weather) for a brief stint. The rest of our eternal life however will be spent in a heavenly 5-star hotel – with a room specially designed for every person! This gives us much hope for the future.

In the Human Givens psychotherapy model, Meaning and Purpose and Hope for the Future are two fundamental human needs. When these needs are not met, people can quickly fall into hopelessness, existential despair and then clinical depression.

Naturally, we want our loved ones and friends to have the same meaning, purpose, hope and strength that we have found in Christ and the Gospel. How can we share our hope with others? What’s the best way to invite people we know to the feast? Certainly, it’s not through arguing (which can lead to ‘The Backfire Effect’ -- where one becomes further entrenched in their beliefs despite hearing contradictory evidence).

As one apologist said: "It's God's job to convert; it's our job to love."

Time and again, we are called to love our neighbour. And not only our friends - but also our enemies; perhaps those who have different spiritual or political views to us. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world (Ephesians 6:12).

In these troubled times, let us demonstrate the love of the Holy Spirit that lives in us as followers of Christ. Let us reflect on how we can bring people to faith through generosity, peace-making, non-judgement and service.

God, please help my life be the greatest messenger of the Gospel.

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