By Charles D. Earl
Former Director of Missions, Holston Valley Baptist Assoc., Rogersville

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: Matthew 22:1-14

In lesson six from Matthew 22 Jesus tells a parable about a king who is preparing a wedding feast for his son. The preparation goes well until we get to the invitations. The father of the groom is the king, and we would think when the invitations went out those who were invited would respond very enthusiastically with an affirmative, “Sure, we’ll be honored to be there!”

To the king’s surprise when the responses began to come in he is flooded with “Thanks, but no thanks, we will not be able to attend your son’s wedding.” Can we imagine what a hurt this was to the king? After all, he was the king and everyone ought to respond by saying, “My dear king, with pleasure we accept your most gracious invitation to the wedding of your son.”

Much to our surprise, and with more surprise to the king, all he had invited to the wedding just flat out turned him down! When all those folks refused his invitation the king was not only extremely disappointed, he was outraged, but he had to try to save face. To do that he sent word to those he had invited that he had made the finest preparations money could buy. The food was prepared and the wedding hall was decorated; “come and join us in this wonderful event.” But to add insult to injury, they ignored him again! They went about their business and said, “We’re not coming to your son’s wedding!” The king was so enraged that he ordered his army to go and arrest them and to even kill them.

The king is now forced to instruct his servants to go out and invite everyone, the good, bad, and ugly to come and share with him at the wedding of his son. What a disappointment this must have been to the king. As the story ends the king sees a man at the wedding feast who was not dressed properly for the occasion and he tells his servants to throw him out into outer darkness where there is gnashing of teeth.

Jesus ends the story with these puzzling words: “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

I am not going to fancy myself so intelligent to say that I know what these words mean because Bible scholars and theologians have spent many hours “mulling over” these eight words, trying to come up with their meaning. Some say they are an argument for Calvinists for their view. However, the free will folks, the Armenians, argue the story favors them.

In the Feb. 22, 2017 issue of the Baptist and Reflector, Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, writes about “a fog of divisiveness” over the SBC. He says one of the reasons for that “fog” is an argument about Calvinism and Arminianism. I wonder why. Since all Baptists say they are Christians, why don’t we just agree to disagree and accept each other as brothers and sisters!

After all, I’m sure all our arguing is not likely to convert any Calvinist to Armenianism, and neither is an Armenian likely to change his belief to Calvinism. So again, since both the Armenian and the Calvinist are Christians, why can’t we just agree that we have a disagreement on interpretation and continue acting like Christians. That way we can all just go out and use our time wisely witnessing to all we meet and trying to share our faith with everyone we can about God’s grace to save those who will repent and believe.