Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 22:2 The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son.
Today we will look at the Parable of the Wedding Feast, the last of three parables, in sequence, that depict God’s indictment and sentence of the present Jewish Leadership, unless they realize their errors and turn to the truth. Jesus does not reject Israel as a whole, only the current leadership, which has rejected him. The contrast is not between Jews and Gentiles but rather between those who reject and those who accept Jesus. Here is this parable as found in Matthew’s gospel.
“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 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. And 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 there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he *said to him, Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes? And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:2-14.
This parable regarding the Wedding Feast was given to a smaller audience than the others, but not because this was Jesus’ choice. In Mark, just after the Parable of the Tenants, we read “And they were seeking to seize Him; and yet they feared the multitude; for they understood that He spoke the parable against them. And so, they left Him, and went away.” Mark 12:12. Now, just because the audience shrunk does not mean Jesus changed the overall topic.
As in most rabbinical parables, the king is an illustration of God. It starts off by stating that a king was preparing to give a wedding feast for His son. He sends out some slaves to tell those invited to come to the wedding feast. When they get back, they tell him they were not going to come. Then a second time, he sends out another set of slaves to tell the invited to come, for there would be a great feast, including his oxen and fattened livestock and that everything is ready. However, they refused to come and went about their business, with some of them mistreating the slaves and ultimately killing them. Now this ticked off the King, so he sent his armies out to kill those who had done this and then destroyed their cities with 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.” Matthew 22:8-9. The King cannot have a wedding feast with no guests; therefore, he tells his slaves to go out and invite all who would come to the feast. They were to go to places where the main highways go out from the city to the country, which was normally where the poorer people tended to get together. These people could never have thought they would be invited to a banquet of this type. But the wedding feast must go forward, so all from these regions were invited.
But what of the man who came in his own clothes? This requires God’s righteousness imparted on us and not our own. This is the meaning of the man who was not dressed in wedding clothes. He came in whatever clothes he chose to wear. “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes? And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:11-13. The imagery here reflects the custom of a king providing festive dress for those he invites to a banquet. So, the king is understandably amazed and he rebukes this man, asking him why he has behaved as he has. The man offers no excuse. Only imprisonment and punishment—eternal judgment—remain in store for such people who rely on their own righteousness rather than the righteousness provided by Christ.
Again, as in the prior two parables, this is a picture of Jews, especially the leadership, rejecting Christ and His gift of righteousness. 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, the Jews, for they understood that the Messiah was coming, refused to accept it was Jesus. Therefore, they 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 separated from Christ. Jesus desires His people, the Jews to come, but unfortunately they cling to the law and refuse to see He is the way, the truth, and the life.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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