Parable of the Marriage Feast

“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. “And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. “Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”‘ “But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. “But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. “Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:1-14)

We are now looking at the third Parable that Jesus spoke when He was challenged by the religious leaders in the Temple. We first looked as the Parable of the Two Sons which was told in response to the religious leader’s rejection of John the Baptist. (Matthew 21:28-32) Then we looked at the Parable of the Landowner and learned that God would reject the religious leaders because of their rejection of the Prophets and ultimately His Son Jesus the Messiah. (Matthew 21:33-46) In this third Parable of the Marriage Feast the wicked and rebelliousness of the religious leaders is even more vividly described. (Matthew 22:1-14) Jesus speaks more clearly on who He is and the nature of their rejection than in the previous Parables.

In the previous Parables Jesus was indeed the Son of God but here He is the Royal Son. The rejection of the religious leaders prior was what the rightfully owed by contract but now in this Parable they were rejecting the kindness that had been graciously offered to them. In this Parable we see an expansion of Divine Judgment. In the prior Parables judgment was towards the Israelite people for rejecting God’s Son and this Parable does also but the judgment is expanded to those who receive the invitation but did not receive it in the way that it was intended.

In this Parable the Kingdom of God is like a Marriage Feast. The Prophet Isaiah had given the people of Israel this vision of the Messianic age as a feast for His people. “The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.” (Isaiah 25:6) This feast is spoken of in the book of Revelation as the Marriage of the Lamb with His bridge the Church. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7) Because of the prophecy of Isaiah the religious leaders of the day should have known what Jesus was talking about.

In verses Matthew 22:3-5 the people rejected the invitation of the King to come to the feast. They had become complacent and were focused upon their own lives here in this world and were too involved to attend the Marriage Feast of the King’s Son. Others of the people were rebellious and killed the messengers who were giving the invitation. “And the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.” (Matthew 22:6) Jesus may be speaking of the Jewish nation as he was in Matthew 21:33-46 in the Parable of the Landowner.

The rejection of the invited to the Marriage Feast of the Son enraged the King and He destroyed those who rejected His invitation. “But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.” (Matthew 22:7) They not only rejected the invitation but they abused His servants and they in the wrath of the King were destroyed. Some see that as prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. (Luke 19:41-44)

The King then opens the invitation to all who will receive it. (Matthew 22:8-10) This opening of the invitation was also seen in the Parable of the Landowner. “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.” (Matthew 21:43) Jesus had made reference earlier in Matthew’s Gospel that the gospel of the Kingdom of God would be opened to the Gentiles also. “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 8:10-11)

Many came as a result but they came without the proper wedding clothes. (Matthew 22:11-12) It was the custom of the day for the host to provide the proper dress for the guest that were attending. If one did not wear the proper garments for the occasion it was viewed as a lack of proper respect. With the host providing the proper garments there is no excuse for anyone to attend the Marriage Feast without the proper dress.

Again the King was furious that some of the guest were not properly attired. “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 22:13) We can see the seriousness of not being properly dressed at the Marriage Feast by the reaction of the King. The consequences of which can be seen in other Parables. “And will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:42) Jesus concluded the Parable with this statement, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

The greatest privilege of mankind is that God the Creator would be mindful to call them into fellowship with Him. He has paid the cost of our rebellion and offers salvation to us through His grace, which is freely given. We each have an open invitation to attend the Marriage Feast in His heaven. None should be indifferent to His invitation, as it should be of the greatest interest to each of us. God has ordered the affairs of life to encourage faith in Him and His Word. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

There are those who continue in their rebellion against God knowing the invitation that He has extended to all. In truth they are trading the kindness of God for the day of His wrath. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 2:4-10)

Then some accept His invitation and try to attend improperly dressed for the Marriage Feast. They want God’s gift of salvation but they try to achieve it on their own terms different from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They try to work out their salvation by doing good works. They seek salvation by faith without repentance and obedience to God’s Word. The only apparel that is acceptable is the clothing that Jesus gives us. We must be clothed in Christ. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:26-27)

When we were baptized we took off the old way of life and put on the new life in Christ. Living in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, born again in the spirit to live in the life that He has set before us as our model. The Apostle Paul applies this figure of putting on the garment of Christian character. “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, nd have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him– a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:5-14)

Then while we are still in this world we can live as ambassadors of His Kingdom that all may see the glory of God through us. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, January 5 2017

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