The Parable of the Marriage Feast- Matthew 22:1-14
This parable immediately follows on the heels of Christ’s parable about the landowner who had a vineyard and sent his slaves to receive his produce. However, those who rented the vineyard killed the slaves and then his son, obviously an inference to the Jews rejecting the Old Testament prophets and a foretelling of their rejection of Christ. The Pharisees clearly got that message, and they did indeed seek to kill Jesus (Matthew 21:45). Christ then speaks of the hardness of Israel and how the gospel will go to others as a result of their hardening (Matthew 21:43-44). This is the lead-in, then, to Matthew 22.
1Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying,
2"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.
3"And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.
God, the King of Kings, sent His Son Jesus to earth to call men to receive Him (John 3:16). The church is the bride of Christ, and Christ is the groom (Ephesians 5:32). God’s design and plan from before time was for mankind to respond to the free gift of salvation found in Christ and to receive Him as their Savior and Lord. Yet when Christ called to the world, few came (Matthew 7:13). Specifically, His own chosen nation of Israel hardened their hearts and wouldn’t come (Matthew 21:43). A few did come, but the majority turned against Jesus, even asking for His crucifixion.
4"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."'
5"But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business,
6and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.
God in His mercy is patient and merciful because He does not want to pour out wrath on the unsaved (Ezekiel 33:11). He wants them to come to repent (2 Peter 3:9). Thus, He calls to them repeatedly and through different people and ways, seeking them to come to Him. There are great benefits to coming to Christ, including peace, joy, everlasting life, and a great feast with God and Christ in heaven to top it off (Revelation 19:7-9). Yet even these things are not appealing enough to those who prefer to love their sin and evil ways. They are preoccupied with the things of the world and the tasks of life, ignoring the eternal ramifications of their sin. They love their sin and go on and do evil, even persecuting and killing those who do love God. The Jews had killed the prophets and were soon to kill Christ.
7"But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.
There will be a penalty for sin, for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). God will pour out His wrath upon the wicked, and they will be put into the fire of hell for eternity.
8"Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
9'Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.'
10"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.
The Jews rejected Christ and the gospel went to the Gentiles (Romans 9). Those invited who refused the invitation were not worthy because they didn’t repent. They scorned the love of the Father, and they will be judged. So the gospel went to all the world, some who were already seeking the one true God (Romans 2:14) along with some who were downright wicked. But all were invited, for the call went to the streets meaning that every person, regardless of nationality, status, depth of sinfulness, or so on could come. God is not partial in Whom He calls to be saved, but He reaches out to the world with a universal call to come to the feast. The hall for the wedding was filled with people, for many had responded in faith and repentance, trusting Christ, which would be indicated by their wedding clothing in the parable. Many more had rejected the call, staying in the streets or at home, but as many as God had appointed to fill the hall did come.
11"But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes,
12and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless.
13"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.'
One particular individual, however, did not have the proper attire, meaning that he came to the gate of heaven, so to speak, and he wasn’t let in because he didn’t truly have faith. He came for the glitz, glamour, and food, but wanting only a good time and not really being interested in the wedding itself, he was dismissed. The only way to truly enter heaven is to receive the Groom as one’s own. The benefits of being wed to Christ can only truly be enjoyed by those who know Him and are known by Him (Matthew 7:23). The man was speechless when confronted by the king because he had no idea what the whole gathering was about. The king addressed him as a friend, surely being willing to give him clothes if only he would repent. But he didn’t, for he wasn’t interested. Thus, he was removed to find his place with the rest of his like who love their sin and scorn the Father and Son. Those who are truly saved know why they are saved, and they love their Groom, Jesus Christ.
14"For many are called, but few are chosen."
This verse sums up this parable in that God calls all the world to be saved and to come to the feast. Yet only a very few do because most choose to love their sin rather than Christ and they therefore scorn the invitation. God calls many, but only a few choose to come. Some choose to come along for the ride because of some reason other than knowing Christ, and these will soon join their counterparts who never came. The issue is knowing Christ and being found in Him (Philippians 3:8-9), and those who choose God will be those who are indeed chosen by God. All are invited to choose God, and we should go into all the world and preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20), being aware that only a few will be interested. We should expect persecution (2 Timothy 3:12), and we should rejoice that we have a feast to go to when we die. We will not be sentenced to eternal darkness, but we will be given heaven with Jesus.