Reading the Word
Matthew 22:1–14 (ESV)
1 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. 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.
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.”
Parallel Text: Luke 14:15-24
Understanding and Applying the Word
Jesus continues to address the religious leaders in this parable. Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast where a king has sent out invitations, but the guests would not come. Instead, the guests killed the servants of the king who had been sent to remind them of the feast. In response to such wickedness, the king sent troops to destroy the murderers and he also sent other servants to gather other gusts, both bad and good, who would come to the feast. The wedding hall was filled. When the king saw his guests that were gathered, he noticed that one had come with no wedding garment. He had failed to properly prepare for the occasion and was cast out of the wedding feast into the darkness.
The Parable of the Tenants (yesterday’s reading) focused on the failure of the religious leadership in Israel. This parable, the Parable of the Wedding Feast, continues the same theme, but addresses more broadly the lack of response to God’s word from the whole nation. God, in his grace and abundant love, had chosen Israel as his own and had invited them into communion with him. The people had rejected God’s grace and gone their own way. They had even killed some of the prophets who had been sent by God and would soon kill the Son.
The privileged position that Israel had once occupied as the people of God was coming to an end. God’s plan would now include people both bad and good. All who responded to the word of God, whether Jew or Gentile, would enter into the kingdom. However, there is proper attire for the kingdom. One does not enter in any way they might want. It is only through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ that one can truly be a part of the wedding feast. All others will be cast out into the darkness.
There is a great deal to think about in this parable, but the primary message is clear. God has graciously invited all, whether bad or good, to be a part of the kingdom of heaven. We accept the invitation by turning to Jesus for forgiveness of our sin and trusting him for our future hope. There is no other way into this feast.
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