Matt 22:1-14 & Phil 2:25-30 – Stuart

  • 17 October 2023
  • Stuart Robinson


Watsons Bay

October 15, 2023

Matthew 22:1-14.

Philippians 2:25-30.

A week ago, we woke to the appalling news of war, in the Middle East. 

And you’ve all seen those confronting images – the destruction, the mayhem. 

You may even have friends who at this very moment are awaiting news from their loved ones in the region.

And did you know that terrifying and unrelenting armed conflict also continues unabated across Eastern Europe; North Africa; the Asian sub-continent; sub-Saharan Africa; Latin America; the Philippines and Asia?

Tens of thousands of people are being displaced, and communities decimated – every day.

And some of these armed conflicts began more than 50 years ago, according to the Geneva Institute.  

Surely such violence, and bloodshed, and destruction, and enmity, and retaliation, underscores the sinfulness of men and women, the desperately unpredictable nature of life, and the very real need to be right with God – whilst there is still time.

Yes, the men, women, boys, and girls in those contexts know that at any moment, life – and all that is precious to them, can be snatched away.

And the fact is that death could come to any of us at any time; will come to all of us at some time.

The ‘World in Data’ site tells me that globally, 60 million people will die in 2023 – that’s 2 people per second; 120 per minute; 7,200 by the time this service is over.

And that is why Jesus’ parable in Matthew 22 (our Gospel reading) is so stark, and arresting – and urgent!

The parable points to a generous and hospitable God who reaches out to people; he calls them to fellowship, and to celebration.

Some spurn his invitation and reject his love. 

Others mistakenly think they can enjoy his bounty on their terms.

But they are not ‘clothed appropriately’ – a reference to Isaiah 61:10 where people who trust in the mercy of God for salvation, are ‘clothed’ in his righteousness. 

Galatians 3:27 states that those who have responded to God’s invitation have been ‘clothed with Christ’ or Philippians 3:9 – ‘we are righteous through faith in Christ – a righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith’.

No ‘clothes’, no relationship, as it were.

So, given the fragility of life, the certainty of death, and the generosity of God, I must ask you this question:

Have you been ‘clothed’ in Christ? 

Have you accepted his invitation to know him and to enjoy him?

The invitation to fellowship and to life.

The invitation to forgiveness.

The invitation to an eternity of satisfaction and celebration where you are fully known, fully loved, and fully alive?

And before you answer that, I do want to be absolutely clear, and state that there is a cost to saying, ‘yes’, to such an invitation.

We see exactly that (the cost), in part at least, in our Epistle reading where St. Paul, writing to his friends in Philippi (north-eastern Greece), describes his colleague Epaphroditus, here in chapter 2 verse 25 as:

  • A brother.
  • A co-worker.
  • A fellow soldier.
  • A messenger.
  • A carer.

When you respond to God’s invitation to share in his bounty you do so as an individual, yes – but in so doing, you are immediately included in his ‘family’ – and that brings with it a raft of responsibilities.

So, by way of cost, when you respond to God’s invitation to share in his bounty: – 

You become a brother or a sister to fellow believers. Your life now includes a whole new set of relationships and responsibilities. Paul explained like this in Philippians 2:1ff: ‘If you have any encouragement from being united in Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the [Holy] Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit, and of one mind’.

You become a co-worker. Your task – with the people of God, and in response to God’s kindness and generosity, is to advance the Kingdom of God. As a team (known collectively as ‘the church’) we are to use our resources – striving together, standing firm (even in the face of opposition) to honour Christ, to address injustice, to alleviate suffering and oppression, to live out the gospel. Philippians 1:27. 

This was one of Paul’s number one priorities. He once said to his colleague, Titus, ‘Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not to live unproductive lives’. Titus 3:14. 

One way that we might address ‘urgent needs’ this very day is to pray for the Anglican Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza (and the Anglican congregation that meets there) and give generously to their appeal for funds to buy emergency supplies and equipment Give Today |

You become a fellow-soldier. And that is because you are caught up in a spiritual battle; ‘the spiritual forces of evil’ oppose the people of God says Paul in Ephesians 6:13. 

Pau himself was arrested for his faith in Jesus. In fact, he writes this very letter from prison (Philippians 1:13) and recognises that he may even die for his faith in Jesus (Philippians 1:20).

You become a messenger. Like Epaphroditus who represented the church in Phillipi (when he was sent as an envoy to Paul in Ephesus) we represent the church and its Lord, Jesus Christ. We are witnesses for Jesus. Last week’s reading from Philippians 2:14-16 puts it beautifully – as ‘children of God’ we are to, ‘do everything without complaining or grumbling…and thus shine among this crooked generation like stars in the sky as [we] hold firmly to the word of life’.

You become a ‘carer’. Epaphroditus sought to minister to St. Paul’s needs – at great personal expense; he almost died (verse 27). Paul himself, pours his life (2:17) into ministering and caring for the church in Philippi. And his instructions to the believers in that city – and us, couldn’t be clearer, “Do nothing out selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others’ – Philippians 2:3-4.

So, given the fragility of life, the certainty of death, and the generosity of God, I return to my question:

Have you been ‘clothed’ in Christ? 

Have you accepted his invitation to know him and to enjoy him?

Are you ready to embrace the cost?

If with a good heart your response is, ‘yes’, either for the first time, or in reaffirmation of your relationship with Jesus, I’d invite you to pray this prayer in the silence of your heart – to God.

Let me read it first, then I’ll pray it slowly.

Dear Heavenly Father,

In this age of uncertainty and upheaval I look to you for security, satisfaction, and salvation.

Thank you for calling me to know and enjoy a friendship with you.

Thank you that Jesus’ sin-bearing death enables me to be ‘clothed’ with his righteousness.

I do count the cost of being a child of God and would ask you to use me in your service – as a conduit of grace and blessing to my family, my community and those to whom you call me to serve.

Thank you for hearing and answering this prayer.


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