In The Parable of the Wedding Feast, heaven is pictured as a marriage with Jesus saying, “Those who were invited (referring to the Jews) were not worthy.” (Verse 8). These words stuck out to me: “How could they not be worthy when we’re all not worthy?”
Worthy can mean you deserve something; therefore, were they unworthy because they didn’t deserve to attend? The Jews were God’s chosen people. If anyone deserved to attend, it would’ve been them. If they didn’t deserve to attend, nobody deserves to attend.
Worthy can mean you’ve earned something. Had they not done enough? There are two reasons this can’t be the case:
- Paul said the Jews “have a zeal for God” (Rom 10:2). They had probably done more for God than anyone; if anyone had earned, or shown themselves worthy to be in heaven, it was them. If the Jews hadn’t done enough, nobody has done enough.
- The Gospel is salvation by grace through faith, and grace is unmerited or unearned favor. Grace can’t be earned. Grace can only take place when something hasn’t been earned: Romans 11:6 If by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. Grace is the opposite of being worthy; grace is necessary because we’re not worthy. By definition the Gospel is for unworthy people.
So they can’t be unworthy because they hadn’t done enough.
Worthy can mean “great character or commendable excellence”, so did their sinfulness make them unworthy?That would seem reasonable except verse 10 says, “the wedding hall was filled with guests” and they were as sinful as the Jews who couldn’t attend (Rom 3:10, 23).
So if they’re unworthy, but it’s not because they didn’t deserve it, and it’s not because they hadn’t earned it, and it’s not because of their sinfulness, what makes them so…not worthy?
They were unworthy for one very simple reason: they rejected the invitation. They were invited in verse 3 and it says, “they were not willing to come.” The simple, yet terrifying truth is if you reject Jesus then you become unworthy of heaven. None of us are unworthy because of our sinfulness or lack of works, but we are unworthy if we don’t embrace Jesus. The King says, “I can handle murderers, adulterers, thieves, people who haven’t done anything deserving attendance, but I can’t handle anyone who doesn’t love My Son.”
In John 16:9 Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, because they do not believe in Me.” This sounds like an odd statement considering there are so many sins. We’d expect Jesus to say, “The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, because men are sinners” but His statement makes it sound like there’s only one sin: not believing in Jesus. While there are different sins, there is only one sin that has eternal consequences…there’s only one sin that can’t be forgiven…there’s only one sin that determines where people spend eternity, and it’s not the sin of lying, adultery, murder, homosexuality…it’s the sin of not believing in Jesus. And that’s sin these people committed; that’s what made them unworthy…
Acts 13:46 Paul and Barnabas [told the Jews], “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and JUDGE YOURSELVES UNWORTHY of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.
People who reject Jesus judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life. People who surrender their lives to Jesus – regardless of what they have earned or haven’t earned, regardless of what they deserve or don’t deserve, regardless of what they have done or haven’t done, regardless of their sinfulness or perceived lack of sinfulness – become worthy of everlasting life and will find themselves at the wedding: Revelation 19:9 Blessed are those who are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!
You can listen to a sermon I preached on The Parable of the Wedding Feast here.