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Bible Study Guide for Sunday October 11, 2020

October 8, 2020
  • ● Exodus 32:1-14

    ● Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23

    ● Philippians 4:1-9

    ● Matthew 22:1-14

    An initial reading of this week’s Gospel can be disturbing. A king kills his guests after they refuse to come to a wedding? What’s going on here? However, if we pause and think back to the Hebrew Scriptures, we realize that Jesus is recounting a version of the history of Israel.

    The king stands in for God sending out his servants, the prophets, to invite his guests, the Israelites, to a wedding. The wedding points to the covenant between God and his people and the Kingdom of Heaven. When Israel rejects God’s covenant and becomes a kingdom of oppression and injustice, God punishes them much like the king in Jesus’s story. Rejected, the king extends his invitation to all people, symbolizing Jesus’s invitation to Jew and Gentile alike to join him in the Kingdom.

    There’s just one wrench in this reading. Who is the improperly dressed guest? What does the missing garment represent? This has actually been a matter of some debate since the time of Saint Augustine. I suspect many of us may see ourselves or someone we love as the improperly dressed guest. I say that I long for the Kingdom of Heaven, but do I really? Am I truly prepared for it?

    Professor James L. Resseguie suggests that the missing garment indicates the guest’s interior state. It is as if the guest was dragged to this wedding, and he doesn’t really want to be there. My take on this reading of the parable is that the guest is unready to enter of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the attempt to force him in instead results in him being thrown into spiritual darkness.

    This calls to mind the experience of one of my best friends growing up. His mother was always “dragging” him to church (and me if I spent a Saturday night). Additionally, she banned many of our favorite books and video games from the house. Anything associated with the “magic” or “fantasy” was suspect to his mother and a possible anti-Christian influence.

    The end result of her years of effort is that my friend is not a Christian. I was not one for many years. She was far from the sole reason for this, but his mother was one of the most overtly religious people I knew, and her example was not an encouraging one. Trying to drag someone to your point of view can throw them into a kind of darkness. That darkness may be the spiritual darkness of not knowing God. It also may be the darkness of driving them away from you.

    2020 is an election year, and politics may be the first thing that springs to mind when we think of convincing others. However, we need to think simultaneously more broadly and more close to home. There have been times when friends just needed someone to listen to them, and I tried to tell them what they should be doing rather than just being present for them. Or, there have been times at work when I insisted on my point of view instead of listening to the voices of

    others. Darkness and casting out can take many forms. We must aspire to the patience and humility of Christ when trying to change the minds of others.


    · Has there been a time when someone had good intentions for you, but ended up driving you away from them or what they intended?

    · When should we try to convince others and when should we just listen?

    · Has there been a time when God changed your mind about something? How long did it take? What was that experience like?

Author: Ryan Newberry


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