1And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” – Mathew 22:1-14
Jesus told many stories by parable (to refresh your memory check out this post on why). In addition to revealing the nature and character of God, the Parable of the Marriage Feast teaches several lessons that are key to understanding redemptive history, future consequences, and the nature of what is termed the Lord’s “General Call.”
- The revealed patience and forbearance of God. In the parable we see the Lord has arranged a marriage for His Son. In this case, it is Jesus Himself who has been arranged a marriage with Israel. With great fanfare and expectation, God prepared Israel in every way to future union with Jesus. Instead, Israel ignores the offer. The Father responds by sending out more servants (prophets) re-iterating the message. His servants strive to communicate the timeliness and glory of the wedding. The old testament is filled with the cycle of Israel enjoying good times; turning to idolatry; God sending prophets with warnings; and finally God brokenheartedly punishing His people. However, the love of the Lord seems to always come through, He continually demonstrates His patience and forbearance. We will see that this cycle will not continue forever.
- The revealed righteousness of God. Just as the Jewish leadership (Sadducees, Scribes, Pharisees, Elders) killed the prophets over the centuries, so did they murder the sinless son of God, Jesus. Infuriating the Lord, Jerusalem is sacked in AD 70, being completely leveled, as predicted by Jesus when first entering with His disciples.
- The revealed love of God. Jesus lays out the story of Love through the parable. The Lord sends out His servants to the whole earth, offering the gospel to all who will hear it, both bad and good.
- The consequences of rejection. The lost were brought in from the highways, indicating a lack of time for preparation. Wedding garments were not prepared or even owned by many. This would indicate the Lord provided the necessary garments for the feast. However, upon inspection one man was found without the required wedding garment. Since the Lord provided all that was needed, it would indicate the man chose to not wear what was generously provided. In other words, he rejected the free offer. The man was eating, drinking, having a good time until he is discovered by the King, leaving him so surprised he is speechless. Because of his blatant rejection of the free offer, he is cast out into eternal darkness. It was too late to put on the free garment.
- The general call. Here Jesus Himself reveals the call of the gospel message to all who will accept it. Those who accept it in repentance and faith become the chosen, labeled “The Elect” by inspired new testament writers. This supernatural drawing by God is also explained in John 6:44 – “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” This call extends to all who hear the gospel, also known as “whosoever will.”
The message of the parable is clear. History is echoed and key aspects of our interactions with the Lord are made evident by the story. After rejection by Israel all the world is called to dine with Jesus as the bride of Christ. We are called to the feast and given everything we need to attend. In the end, if we reject the offer of salvation, it will be too late to reason with God. This is a very sobering reminder of the reality of the nature of God and the consequences of rejection.