Parables | Parable of the Wedding Feast | Matthew 22:1-14
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 22:1–22:14
Christopher Rich – May 3, 2015
Parables | Small Stories, Big Ideas, Great Jesus
Parable of the Wedding Feast | 22:1-14
Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus’ Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’ Mission. Mercy Fellowship exists to make disciples of Jesus Christ who love God and love people. Today we are continuing our summer series Parables: Small Stories, Big Ideas, Great Jesus.
What are you hoping for? What are you looking forward to or eagerly anticipating? Right now, from an earthly standpoint, there doesn’t seem to me much and what available is slow either being cancelled or being replaced with decidedly “less than alternatives.” We are getting more and more disconnected and despondent. We need to be driven by a vision of a future that is hopeful and just plain better than now. There is a sifting and an unsettling going on that is leaving us disoriented. While there is much to grieve, and might be more, not all disruption is bad. 2,000 years ago there was “law and order” a “civil society” that left many hopeless in the face of the power of Caesars, governors, and systems. Fear and frustration ran high. Enter Jesus. He preaches, teaches, heals, and feeds. Comes to Jerusalem. Jesus then made his first order of business aggressively coming into the temple cleaning out the temple of corrupt dealers and restoring it to a house of prayer and healing. Jesus returned to the temple to teach and is confronted by the Chief Priest and elders of the temple about the nature of the authority. Jesus responds with challenging them on the nature of John the Baptist’s ministry. “Make a call, is John a prophet from God or is he a crazy person?” They gave an answer with best chance of keeping authority AND did not require them to submit to or recognize Jesus (who John held as the Son of God). Jesus continues teaching the leaders and the crowd with the parable of the wicked tenants of a vineyard and the gracious king reminding them where all authority rests and where all honor is due. In a world obsessed with power it is Jesus who is charge. If you continually reject the will of the king failing to recognize the authority of the King’s Son (Jesus) the vineyard/kingdom will be given to those who love the king. Jesus is going to give clarity and hope for many.
Verse 1-6 | Royal Wedding Rejected
Matthew 22:1-6 | And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.
The kingdom of heaven is like a Wedding Feast! How awesome an image is that? The feast is in honor of the wedding of Son of the King. He does not say it’s like a feast thrown in your honor. We have to move the target from our glory to God’s glory. That does not mean it will not be an exceedingly joyful event by those invited get to participate in the most anticipated and decadent event in the life of the kingdom, the wedding of the son of the king! Who wouldn’t want to be at this? The King has chosen the celebrants. Royal Invitations have already been presented to a select group of people. Specifically it is the call God placed on the nation of Israel to be a blessing to the nations and anticipate the coming of the messiah. Israel in the OT is told repeatedly, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” The time for the wedding is here.
“but they would not come” Those invited are completely unresponsive to the King’s call to come to the feast and it’s go time! The event you’ve RSVP’d for the one you’ve been waiting for is finally here! This is a rebellious response “Yes we’ve been called by the king. Yes we’ve been chosen as the celebrants of the great Royal Wedding. Yes it is time to respond, but we will not come.” This is a big deal. This is not deciding at the last minute not to go to some little gathering you told other’s you’d be at. You have been given the honor of being invited by the King to the greatest event you’ll ever experience; you’ve confirmed your attendance and then decided to not go, without considering how insulting it is to the king who planned the event. In this culture, it would be considered treasonous to act this disrespectfully to the king. Yet the King is exceedingly gracious in face of stubbornness and rather than rescinding the invitations, he resends servants to remind and recall. “Don’t forget what was promised let me give you some details so you can remember why you were blessed to be invited in the first place.” He sends servants to remind those invited what has been promised is ready! While you’ve been going about your life the king has prepared an amazing feast! Isaiah 25:6-9| 6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
See the motivation? The call of the Gospel (the invitation to life with God in Jesus Christ) the call to come to God is NEVER a call to something less than; it is always a call to something more and greater than what we see at normal or believe is natural. What is your understanding of what God is calling His people too? It is a real joy and celebration? There will be rich food, there will be a big party! There will be no more suffering of sin that oppressively covers our whole world. There will be a culmination like a wedding day that is the beginning of a new life with God and His people. He’s not inviting you to a “virtual conference on Zoom, but a veritable feast of joy and in-person celebration. Life with God and His people isn’t boring, sad, or uneventful, it’s rich, exciting, and enjoyable. We need to know what we are called to and promised so we can eagerly anticipate for our endurance and enthusiastically invite those for whom the feast is unknown.
Indifferent Response - After the detailed reminder from faithful servants of the king they again “paid no attention” In the face of the clear reminder of the greatness of the wedding feast and urgent call come to the king’s palace to honor the king’s son the chosen peoples’ response is to give no heed to it. They simply reject the King’s call by ignoring it. They simply do not listen or respond. Apathy to a call from a King is not neutral, to not respond is to respond with rejection. It’s ignoring His authority and spurning His grace.
Individual Pursuits - There is rejection in the form of desiring something else then what the King has called you too. Rather dropping their agendas, coming into the king’s palace (where the King reigns) they decide to focus their attention on their farm, their business. They would rather focus on their own affairs and work on building their own little kingdoms then stop what they are doing and give their attention to something truly great. What have you decided is more important than the king’s call to the wedding feast? Where are you directing your attention in such a way that when God calls you to do something you choose your business?
Insolent Rejection - There is rejection in the form of ridicule of what is great. The servants of the king are presenting the details of a great wedding feast that each of the chosen have previously agreed to attend and they are treated “shamefully” in response. This is increasingly common in our popular culture and our political discourse. There is rejection of the King’s call in the form outright hostility and violence to his servants. This hostility isn’t a passive rejection or pursuit of something else its an active rebellion. Not every response is that of ISIS but the outright rejection all has the same effect. You do not go to the feast.
Verse 7-10 | Fill the Hall!
Matthew 22:7-10 | 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
The King is gracious AND the King is just. Where ignoring and indifference have turned to outright hostility and violent rejection; there is righteous judgement on those who mistreat the King’s servants and fail to honor the Son. Jerusalem is in the middle of a great decision week on how they will respond the king. Jesus has arrived, the Son is here ready for the wedding and reception is about to be turned into the greatest rejection the world has known where the King’s own son will be treated shamefully, put on a cross and killed. The city of those who actively rejected the King’s Son will meet the same violent judgement Jesus describes in this parable. God will use the Roman army in 70AD to completely destroy the city of Jerusalem. The temple Jesus is teaching in will be burned to the ground and worship there will be no more.
There is a transition in the mission but the goal of the mission is still the same. The King doesn’t cancel the wedding just because the chosen attendants were not faithful in accepting their invitation. King has a feast it will not go to waste, the king’s son will be honored and many will celebrate with joyful feasting. The King’s servants are sent on a new mission calling the unworthy and uninvited to something great. It is the grace of God that the “Good and the bad” are called! You’re poor, marginalized out on the road, not elite wealthy, favored, and yet here is a servant of the King coming and saying a feast of celebration of my Son has been prepared and there is a place prepared for you. The call is universal! It’s not limited; the call goes out to all who can hear. Everyone should know and hear there is there is a King calling people to celebrate His Son Jesus! “As many as you can find!!” There is urgency and intensity! Let’s get the calls out! We absolutely have a role as Christians, as servants of the king, to know the details of the feast and what a proper response looks like so the feast is full of those who know what to expect. Know Good News! The poor and common “on the roads” are now invited! The King’s feast is now more radically inclusive then anyone ever imagined. Those who never would have thought they would be in the feast are there. It’s not a crew that would be expected for a royal wedding but it is the crew that actually responded. The result is the Wedding Hall is PACKED with people ready to celebrate! The gospel has power in that the hall will be full. There will be those who respond and come to the King. The call of the gospel is not a weak invitation to something lame, where participation is lacking, and nearly none response. As servants of the King we can be assured that while not everyone will respond, there will be fullness at the King’s feast!
11-14 | Proper Attire
Matthew 22:11-14 | 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Verse 10 seems like a great place to stop; you’ve had some conflict and it seems to be resolved with the full wedding hall of a wide diversity of people who have heard the invitation and responded to the call. Yet Jesus wants there to be more clarity about how the gospel of grace is more fully realized. It will change you and make you worthy of the feast. The call to the feast is universal, the proper response and belonging in the feast are not. The call of the Gospel is not just an invitation to the feast but an embracing of a completely new identity, where (by God’s grace) putting off our old selves, our old clothes who were just as unworthy of the feast as those who rejected it and putting on our new clean/pure wedding garment provided by the King. Not only will the king ensure the hall is filled, but he will ensure that it is filled in a way that is still worthy of celebrating the King’s Son. Just because the King’s servants call the “good and the bad” doesn’t mean the King has lowered how grand, holy, pure, and awesome, the wedding feast is going to be. He doesn’t lower standards by letting in many. Those called out on the road side would not have proper attire for the wedding feast, it would be provide by the King himself. This again is a sign of God’s grace, we’re not worth to be invited to the feast and we receive attire for it we did not earn. None of us belong at this feast but God’s grace changes us! The “good and the bad” are now chosen celebrants who have been given new “wedding clothes” making them fit for the feast. His Son’s glory will not be diminished by the stains and dirt of the simple sinners he has called into the hall. They are in capable of cleaning themselves or affording worthy garments. The king will make them clean and grand. Zechariah 3:3-5 | 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.
Yet desiring the feast and honoring the Son are two different things. Jesus gives this chilling warning about what it looks like when someone confuses getting invited to the feast and honoring the King. When it’s time for the feast to start and the King has arrived there is a man not properly attired and fit for the feast! No shirt, no mask, no salvation, no service at the wedding feast! He is confronted directly by the king as he meets with each guest. “How did you get in here without a wedding garment?” When everyone came to the feast and were told to take off their old dirty garments for fresh new clean suits provided by the king this man didn’t renounce his old stuff and receive the gracious gift from the king and now the king has called him on it. In response he has no answer. He is speechless. To not answer, is to answer. What is your assurance? What will you answer be when you see the feast and the king meet you and asks why you belong? Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Rom 10:31 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
No answer is an answer which leads to death. There is no middle ground; just as the invited who do not response are rejected so are all those who are not clothed in the righteous garment of Jesus identity the King has provided. The stakes are high, once the wedding feast starts and the king arrives it’s too late. There is no other city to return to if you’re not in the feast. When the King arrives all that is left for life and Joy is the feast! Outside the feast is not neutral, it’s horrible. Weeping and gnashing of teeth are all that comfort those in outer darkness. Come to something great, be made worthy of something great because of someone great! It’s not enough to be around other celebrants in the feast. The only way you belong is if you’re properly clothed. The truth is all of us are improperly clothed on our own. We all need Jesus! As we take communion we are taking a little feast to remember who invited us and prepared us for the Great Feast. We belong not because of ourselves, but because of the King’s Son, so we celebrate and Trust Jesus!
More in Parables
August 30, 2020Parables | Kingdom Power and Value | Matthew 13:31-33; 44-46
August 9, 2020Parables | Parable of the Persistent Neighbor | Luke 11:1-13
August 2, 2020Parables | Parable of the Tenants | Matthew 21:33-46