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The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
22:1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying:
Following on directly from chapter 21, Jesus is still speaking in parables; teaching the people in the temple courts in the hearing of the Pharisees and scribes.
22:2 "The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
In this parable the king represents God and Jesus is his son. The wedding banquet prepared by God stands for the eternal blessings made available to men through Christ, which are received through salvation (Eph. 1:3).
22:3 He sent his slaves to summon those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come.
The servants of God were sent to invite those whom he wished to welcome as guests at this banquet. The gospel of salvation is for all men, and God is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9). In this parable Jesus makes clear that it was to the Jewish nation that the message of salvation was first sent. Indeed, the words of this verse, “summon those who have been invited”, imply that the invitation had already been given through the writings of the prophets, and that the apostles of the New Testament were merely announcing that the time had come for these prophetic writings to be fulfilled (Mark 1:15). Unfortunately, by and large those who heard the heralds refused to respond to the invitation.
We must bear in mind that this gospel was first spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:3). It was the invitation of the son himself that the Pharisees refused, though later they also rejected that of the apostles (1 Thess. 2:15). The sin here is of obduracy and disobedience as they refused to listen, obey and come.
22:4-5 Again he sent other slaves, saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet." ‘But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.
God is longsuffering, and so more messengers were sent. Again and again God appeals for lost souls to receive his son. But those portrayed in this verse are indifferent to the things of God. They thought nothing of the fact that God had prepared everything for them. The king in the parable had slaughtered his oxen and fattened cattle and prepared everything, they did not even need to pay for admission; they only had to bring themselves.
God has done everything required for our eternal blessing and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, who has died and who is raised again; so that whoever responds to his call and comes to him in faith will be saved. So little did these men esteem the invitation of the king that they considered manual labour more important. In point of fact there is nothing more important than the salvation of our souls and we should give more earnest heed to the things that are spoken and ensure we obey so that our souls might be saved (Heb. 2:1-3).
22:6 The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them.
Just as seriously some of those who rejected the invitation abused and murdered the messengers of the king (see Luke 11:49). If the rejection of Jesus Christ was not serious enough, the murder of his servants will not go unpunished either.
22:7 The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire.
God’s wrath was aroused by the people’s rejection of his son and his servants, and he was determined to repay them for their sin. Significantly, Jesus said that he burned their city with fire – which is exactly what happened to Jerusalem when it was raised to the ground by the Romans in AD 70.
22:8-9 Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy. So go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.'
The wedding was so important, and the desire of the king was so great for his son’s honour, that the original rejection of the people did not deter the king from continuing to invite others; indeed everyone in the whole country was invited. When Jesus says those who were invited were not worthy he means that they had made themselves unworthy by rejecting the gracious invitation (Acts 13:46); for we notice that those who rejected the message received the same genuine invitation as those who accepted it. It was not God who rejected them. God’s concern is that his servants should go everywhere and invite everyone (Mark 16:15; John 3:16).
22:10-12 And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found, both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the wedding guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' But he had nothing to say.
The evangelists went out to plead with all people and as a result great crowds gathered in the hall where the wedding was to take place. Yet, as the wedding was about to begin, the king spoke personally to one man who was not wearing wedding clothes. These special clothes were a gift provided by the king for all of his guests. It was a serious affront to a king not to wear his gifts.
The significance of these verses lies in the fact that our salvation is provided for us as a gift of God (Rom. 6:23). Just as the king provided the wedding clothes, so it is God who clothes us with the garments of salvation and arrays us with the robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10). When we receive Jesus Christ as our Saviour he removes our filthy garments of sin, which he nailed to the cross, and gives us the robe of his own righteousness (Jer. 23:6).
We cannot hope to enter heaven any other way than the one which God has provided. If we want to enter God’s wedding banquet than we must first accept his gift. Being in the wedding hall or among the congregation of God’s people (joining a church) is not what saves us; receiving the God’s gift of eternal life does. You can spend your entire life among Christians, you may have been born into a Christian family, but one day you will have to personally meet with and be examined by God. Are you sure that you have received his gift of righteousness through faith in Christ?
22:13 Then the king said to his attendants, 'Tie him up hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!'
The end for all those who do not accept the free gift of salvation through faith in Christ is an eternal punishment, in outer darkness where there is endless regret and pain.
22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen."
We should understand this concluding verse of the parable in the context of the whole parable. Many had been called, the invitation went out to all equally, but only those who responded in the affirmative received the wedding garments and so were chosen. Whilst God has sovereignly prepared the salvation banquet, he has not forced any man to attend. God has sovereignly announced the means of salvation, yet man can of his own free will choose to accept or reject what God offers.
Paying Taxes to Caesar
22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words.
The Pharisees knew in their hearts that they were among those who rejected the king's messengers and were plotting the death of his son. They were cut to the heart by Christ’s words and hated him for exposing the truth. Those who are enemies of God will always hate those who are truly his servants. They plotted to trap Jesus in something he might say for the sole purpose of handing him over to the power of the Roman Governor (Luke 20:20) that he might be put to death. This was the motive behind the following question.
22:16-17 They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You do not court anyone's favour because you show no partiality. Tell us then, what do you think? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
The Pharisees united with their enemies the Herodians to trap Christ in his words. They began, as those who hate us often will, with lying and flattery, before asking Christ to answer a controversial question. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? The Herodians (supporters of Herod) were puppets of Rome and would have supported the tax, whilst the Pharisees were known to be opposed to it, describing the money as idolatrous.
22:18 But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, "Hypocrites! Why are you testing me?
The lord of glory knows all things and is never fooled by the deception of men. He denounces them as pretenders and confronts them with the truth: that they were trying to trap him.
22:19 Show me the coin used for the tax." So they brought him a denarius.
Jesus nevertheless answers their duplicitous question. He demands to be shown the coin used for the tax, not because he had never seen one, but in order to make his point.
22:20-21 Jesus said to them, "Whose image is this, and whose inscription?" They replied, "Caesar's." He said to them, "Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
Again, Christ knew whose image and inscription was on the coin; he wanted to hear it from the mouths of his questioners. If the money was minted by Caesar as a means of exchange and taxation, then they should not refuse to give to him what was his own. Christians are commanded to pay their dues both in terms of taxation and service to the civil authorities (Rom. 13:1-7). Nor should they, like the men in the parable, refuse to give God what is rightly his - the complete obedience of their hearts and lives (Rom. 12:1).
22:22 Now when they heard this they were stunned, and they left him and went away.
The men were stunned, for they had never imagined that Christ could answer their question without incriminating himself, let alone silence them with his wisdom and absolute authority. They decided it was best to beat a hasty retreat.
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Copyright (2009-2013) Sharon Full Gospel Church, UK. Reg. Charity No. 1050642 www.sharonchurch.co.uk
This Bible study is taken from Faithbuilders: The Gospel of Matthew