Interacting with the Sermon
Synopsis of the Sermon
This weekend, East Campus Pastor Charles Montgomery continued in the Parables of Jesus series by preaching on the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. First off, Charles pointed out that a huge party has been prepared has been prepared. The party in the parable represents the Kingdom of God. The host, God, is ready, the honoree, Jesus, is in attendance, and the hospitality is second to none. In this section Charles also pointed out that Jesus is the guest of honor because he is the groom, and this party is his wedding banquet. In fact, Charles said, the Bible clearly points out that God sees himself as the groom to the people of God, who are his bride. This is significant because there is no higher level of relationship that we can enter into than a covenant marriage, and this is the language that God uses to describe the relationship he wants with us. Second, Charles said that the host of the party, God, extends invitations. At this point in the parable, we see how the guests respond. Unfortunately, as Charles put it, “the regrets are returned.” Guests start saying they can’t come to the banquet. Charles gave four reasons based on the parable for why the guests rejected the invitation: Ignorance, intent, indifference, and insult. Some guests may have been aloof, others clearly rejected the invitation, others simply decided that they would keep about their own business rather than go to the party, and still others so fiercely rejected the invitation that they beat and killed the messengers. In responses God is angered. Charles was quick to point out that God is angry because he loves. People don’t get angry about things they don’t care about. But Charles showed us that God is angry because he cares for the guests, cares for his son, and cares for his servants. So what did God do in his anger? Send out another invitation to those that would come. Lastly, Charles pointed out that just as the man without wedding clothes was sent out of the banquet, so are we to give God the proper respect and reverence when accepting his invitation. We do not accept it flippantly and just show up, we accept the invitation into God’s Kingdom with reverence for the host and respect for the honoree. Charles closed by exhorting us to respond to God’s invitation. Everything is ready, the banquet is set! All that is missing is us, responding to the invitation God gave us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In 5 minutes or less, briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
Getting the Conversation Started
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
- What are one or two things from this weekend’s sermon that really stood out to you?
- How do you understand the nature of God’s love for you now in light of Charles’ point about the marital covenant relationship that God wants to enter into with you?
- Does living in God’s Kingdom feel like attending a feast to you? If not, why?
Study Goal: In order to truly live in God’s Kingdom, we must be living out of the overflow of love that God has for us. In order to dive deeper into the knowledge of God’s never-ending love, let’s look at a passage from Hosea where God describes how he will love and care for his bride, the people of God.
Context: Hosea was written by the prophet Hosea probably around 715 B.C. At this time the Kingdom of Israel has split into two separate nations, Israel and Judah, as a result of a nasty civil war between Solomon’s sons Rehoboam and Jeroboam. The northern kingdom, Israel, was absolutely plagued by idol worship and unfaithfulness from the time it was ruled by its first King, Jeroboam, until it was conquered and exiled by neighboring Assyria in/around 722 B.C. This book was written as the consequences of Israel’s sin were manifesting. The book is comprised of God’s word directly to Israel and God’s word to Israel through the life and actions of Hosea. God commanded Hosea to go and marry a prostitute and have children with her, knowing that she would be unfaithful to him. When she was unfaithful, and all her lovers were finished with her, she was left to be sold as a slave. God told Hosea to go and buy her back regardless of her actions and love her as his wife. This, God says, is a metaphor for how God has loved and will love Israel. We enter this book in chapter two, when God is talking directly to Israel about how he will show his great love to his bride.
Read Hosea 2:14-20
14”Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. 15There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. 16”In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘may master.’ 17I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. 18In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and with the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. 19I will betroth you to me forever, I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. 20I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.
- (v.14-15) What does God say that he is first going to do for his bride? What is he going to give to his bride? What is he going to transform for her? (a. He is going to allure her and speak tenderly to her. He is going to give her back her vineyards and transform the Valley of Trouble into a door of hope.)
- (v.16) How will the relationship between God and his people, his bride, change on that day? (a. God’s bride will call him ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’)
- (v.17) What will God remove from his bride’s lips? (a. The names of the Baals)
- (v.18) What is God going to do for his bride by making a covenant with the beasts of the earth and by removing the sword from the land? (a. He is going to give his bride security from dangers of the earth and dangers that come from man)
- (v.19-20) What five qualities will characterize the Lord’s betrothal to his bride? (a. righteousness, justice, love, compassion, and faithfulness)
- (v.20) What will the bride to in return for all of this? (a. Acknowledge the Lord).
- (v.14-15) We, the people of God, are God’s bride. God says that he will allure us and speak tenderly to us, provide for us, and transform our areas of trouble into areas of hope. How has God done this for you personally? How is God doing that for you even now? How has God done this to the collective people of God throughout history?
- (v.16) God wants our relationship to him to be characterized first by love, by the groom/bride relationship, not the master/slave relationship. We absolutely are God’s servants, but if our relationship is rooted in love as God intends it to be, we serve out of love. Are you tempted to think of God as simply a task master, as a giver of rules to follow and boxes to check off? What changes about your understanding of God when you think of God in this new way?
- (v.17) God is intent on removing idols from our lives. What idols does God want to “remove from your lips?”
- (v.18) God is going to provide security for his bride. How has God secured you both in relationship with him and in your physical life on this earth? God often secures us with his promises. What promises of God do you cling to most for security?
- (v.19-20) What does would it look like to be betrothed to God all five of his betrothal qualities every day? What areas can you grow in as his betrothed?
- (v.20) One of the most fascinating things about this passage is that in return for all of the things the Lord lavishes on his bride, he asks for one thing in return: That the bride acknowledge the Lord. Do you acknowledge the Lord every day? Do you acknowledge the Lord by setting aside time for him? Do you acknowledge the Lord by handing over difficult areas of trust to him? What holds us back from doing this?
Below you’ll see some options for ministry time with your group. We always encourage you to reserve time in your group to pray for one another and wait on the Holy Spirit.
- Many people in America today come into relationship with the Lord out of fear-based church backgrounds. If there are some in your group, pray that they would know the love of Jesus, specifically focusing on breaking down thought patterns akin to, “If I don’t do this and this, God won’t love me anymore.” They are the bride of Christ, and God loves them more than they can know.
- Meditate on verses 19 and 20, taking time to simply ask God to reveal more of what it means to be loved by God as his bride. Focus on the five qualities of the betrothal and ask God to reveal more knowledge and insight into the depths of his love.
- If there are married couples in your groups, pray for their marriages. Pray that they would continue to grow into the likeness of God’s perfect marriage of his bride. Focus again on the five betrothal qualities, praying that they would be strengthened and, if needed, renewed, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
 Achor means “trouble.”
 The Baals were various Ancient Near Eastern gods/idols that the countries neighboring Israel worshipped. Israel and Judah continually worshipped these gods throughout their histories. This practice, detestable to the Lord, was ultimately the root of their demise.