Undeserving? Or Entitled?
SIXTH IN MY TEACHING SERIES ON THE PARABLES OF JESUS
The Parable Of The Marriage Feast
Matthew 22:1-14 NIV
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, “Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”
“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
In this parable, Jesus characterizes the king as God the Father, and the son, Jesus Himself. Those who had been invited to the wedding fast were the people of Israel — God’s favored nation. But when the time of the banquet came, they not only chose to not attend. they also murdered those who represented the Father who had invited them. The symbolism in this refers to the people of Israel. After centuries of awaiting the coming Messiah, they refused to accept that Jesus was that very Messiah, even when He was present amongst them.
We can bemoan the Jewish people for being blind or selfish, unable to see the presence of Jesus right in front of them. But this is actually indicative of the human nature we all possess: To be offered the blessings of God and to refuse them because of our attraction to the things that indulge our fallen nature.
Once the invited guests – the Israelites – declined the Father’s invitation, He opened the special event to virtually anyone and everyone, total strangers, both good and bad. This refers to the gospel being taken to the Gentiles. This portion of the parable is a foreshadowing of the Jews’ rejection of the gospel. Since they rejected it and did not consider themselves in need of eternal life through Jesus Christ, he gospel message, Jesus taught, would be made available to everyone.
It would be a gross insult to the king to refuse to wear the garment provided to the guests. The man who was caught wearing his old clothing learned what an offense it was as he was removed from the celebration. This was Jesus’ way of teaching the inadequacy of self-righteousness. From the very beginning, God has provided a “covering” for our sin. To insist on covering ourselves is to be clad in “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Adam and Eve tried to cover their shame, but they found their fig leaves to be woefully scant. God took away their handmade clothes and replaced them with skins of (sacrificed) animals (Genesis 3:7, 21).
Just as the king provided wedding garments for his guests, God provides salvation for mankind. Our wedding garment is the righteousness of Christ, and unless we have it, we will miss the wedding feast. When the religions of the world are stripped down to their basic tenets, we either find man working his way toward God, or we find the cross of Christ. The cross is the only way to salvation (John 14:6).
To summarize the point of the Parable of the Wedding Feast, God sent His Son into the world, and the very people who should have celebrated His coming rejected Him, bringing judgment upon themselves. As a result, the kingdom of heaven was opened up to anyone who will set aside his own righteousness and by faith accept the righteousness God provides in Christ. Those who spurn the gift of salvation and cling instead to their own “good” works will spend eternity in hell.
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