CONTEMPT FOR KINGDOM INVITATION AND KINGDOM REQUIREMENTS RESULTS IN FATAL CONSEQUENCES
Definition of Contempt: a feeling that someone or something is not worthy of any respect or approval; lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
Grant Osborne: This third of the triad of parables continues the themes of the wicked tenants in terms of God’s gracious invitation to the guests, their refusal to respond, the king’s judgment that fell on them as a result, and the extension of the invitation to others both “the bad and the good” (v. 10). The two primary differences are
(1) the eschatological orientation to the messianic banquet at the end of history as well as the imminent judgment at the destruction of Jerusalem (vv. 1–10, preparing for ch. 24); and
(2) the demand that people allowed into the banquet come on God’s terms rather than their own (vv. 11–14).
With this final parable, the action then returns to the remaining four controversies (22:15–46).
This [parable] moves from the centrality of the guilt of the leaders (the parable of the wicked tenants) to the guilt of the whole nation (building on v. 43). Two themes are uppermost—divine justice and divine grace. God is just in his wrath and judgment on those who flaunt his invitation and gracious in inviting both “the bad and the good” (v. 10) to the messianic banquet. . .
There is a salvation-historical movement in this parable from Israel to the Gentiles to the church composed of Jews and Gentiles who believe and live rightly according to the kingdom demands.
Stu Weber: Jesus will reject those who refuse his invitation into honor and privilege, replacing them with true worshipers—those restored from sin by his grace. . . For a person to participate in this celebration presupposed that he had placed his faith in the Messiah and become a part of his people, the Messiah’s bride. The invitation to the feast was an invitation to discipleship and salvation. It was also an invitation to enjoy the king’s blessing—the “food” of the feast as well as the honor of being invited.
Thomas Constable: The three parables in this series are similar to three concentric circles in their scope.
- The scope of the parable of the two sons encompassed Israel’s leaders (Matthew 21:28-32).
- The parable of the wicked tenant farmers exposed the leaders’ lack of responsibility and their guilt to the people listening in as well as to the leaders themselves (Matthew 21:33-46).
- This last parable is the broadest of the three. It condemned the contempt with which Israel as a whole had treated God’s grace to her.
The point of these three parables is quite clear. God would judge Israel’s leaders because they had rejected Jesus, their Messiah. He would postpone the kingdom and allow anyone to enter it, not just the Jews as many of the Jews thought. [Note: See Toussaint and Quine, pp. 140-41.] The prophets had predicted that Gentiles would participate in the kingdom; this was not new revelation. However the Jews, because of national pride, had come to believe that being a Jew was all the qualification one needed to enter the kingdom. Jesus taught them that receiving God’s gracious invitation and preparing oneself by trusting in Him was the essential requirement for participation.
Albert Mohler Jr.: Jesus confronts the religious leaders with a third parable that paints the consequences they face for rejecting his invitation to repent and enter the kingdom of heaven. Some reject the invitation with trivial excuses. Others abuse and even kill the king’s servants. Their actions are not merely insulting but treasonous, and the king’s rage and the form of punishment are appropriate for such open rebellion.
The second part of the parable takes another unimaginable turn. Those who consider themselves able to dispense with the king’s invitation are undeserving. It is not the externally righteous but the sinners who are received into the kingdom of heaven (5:20; 9:12-13). The wedding guests gathered from the streets correspond to the sinners, tax collectors, and Gentiles who are responding to Jesus’ gracious invitation into the kingdom.
The third part of the parable focuses on a person who entered the wedding but who has arrived inappropriately dressed. The man’s speechlessness implies he has access to appropriate attire but declines to wear it. His actions reveal he has refused Jesus’ invitation to the kingdom, resulting in eternal judgment.
“Chosen” (22:14) is an alternate expression for Jesus’ true disciples (or “elect”; cf. 11:27; 24:22, 24, 31). While Jesus gives an open invitation to the kingdom it is only God’s sovereign choice that brings about salvation. Only those who respond to the call appropriately can be part of the banquet, and their acceptance of the invitation reveals that they are chosen by God. The religious leadership of Israel lost their privileged position because they rejected Jesus’ invitation.
Charles Swindoll: The cast of characters reflected in this parable is easy to identify. The king represents God; the son stands for Jesus. The elite who were invited to the banquet presumably represent the Jewish leaders. The invitation includes the various ways that God had already called the elite to discipleship in the kingdom of God. John the Baptizer had extended the invitation to repent and believe. Jesus and His disciples had been beckoning them to come. Besides this, the Old Testament prophets had foretold of the Messiah, His miracles, and His mission. And the amazing signs and wonders performed through the Holy Spirit should have sealed the deal for anybody with eyes to see and ears to hear. However, the scribes, Pharisees, priests, and other leaders of the Jews either rudely ignored these invitations or actively attacked those who extended them.
(:1) PROLOGUE – THIRD PARABLE IN THE JUDGMENT TRIAD
“And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying,”
I. (:2-10) CONTEMPT FOR KINGDOM INVITATION — THE WEDDING BANQUET
A. (:2) Royal Wedding Banquet = Grand Occasion
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king,
who gave a wedding feast for his son.”
- Identity of the Kingdom of Heaven
- Identity of the King
- Imagery of the Wedding Feast
- Identity of the Son
B. (:3-7) Rejected Invitations
- (:3) Initial Round of Rejections = Treasonous Unwillingness of God’s Covenant People
“And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited
to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.”
Homer Kent: Oriental custom included an initial invitation and a second call at the stated hour. The invited ones, here certainly Israel, refused this call, and when further explanatory entreaties were made, became either brazenly rude or positively murderous.
- (:4-5) Subsequent Round of Rejections = Rebellious Indifference of Spiritual Harlots
a. (:4) Lavish Preparations
“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.’”
b. (:5) Lawless Disinterest
“But they paid no attention and went their way,
one to his own farm, another to his business,”
Grant Osborne: From rudeness they turn to indifference, just walking away (lit., “those who did not care walked away”) from the king’s emissaries. “Paid no attention” (ἀμελήσαντες) connotes not just inattention but also unconcern. They act as if no invitation has come at all and just return to their daily work. . .
The mention of “field” and “business” sums up the basic two categories, agriculture and commerce, which thus stand for all the different occupations. Luke 14:18–20 is similar, with the people providing excuses for not coming—buying a field, buying five oxen, and recently getting married. Again, the insult is far greater than we realize. These typify the reaction of the Jewish people to Jesus—rejection and apathy.
William Barclay: It reminds us that the things which make people deaf to the invitation of Christ are not necessarily bad in themselves. In the parable, one man went to his estate: the other to his business. They did not go off on a wild binge or an immoral adventure. They went off on the, in itself, excellent task of efficiently administering their business life. It is very easy to be so busy with the things of the present that the things of eternity are forgotten, to be so preoccupied with the things which are seen that the things which are unseen are forgotten, to hear so insistently the claims of the world that the soft invitation of the voice of Christ cannot be heard. The tragedy of life is that it is so often the second bests which shut out the bests, that it is things which are good in themselves which shut out the things that are supreme. We can be so busy making a living that we fail to make a life; we can be so busy with the administration and the organization of life that we forget life itself.
Van Parunak: In the present context, the interpretation is straightforward. Remember from v. 1 that the feast represents the kingdom of heaven. These first verses recall the history of the invitation to the Jewish nation. Throughout the OT, the Lord taught Israel the basic principles of his kingdom. They had an early invitation to enter into it, and were given many clear signs when it should arrive—so much so that in the first century, there were those like Simeon, “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25), or Anna, who “spake … to all them that looked for redemption in Israel” (Luke 2:38), or Joseph of Arimathea, “who also himself waited for the kingdom of God” (Luke 2:51). Even the pagan wise men, knowing Daniel’s prophecies, recognized that the time was right for the arrival of “the king of the Jews.” During his earthly ministry, the Lord’s focus was on “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He told his disciples to go only to these (10:6) and he rebuffed the Canaanite woman on the same grounds (15:24).
But these were exceptions. The bulk of the nation rejected the prophets when they brought additional details of the invitation, just as we saw in the previous parable. Now, when the final invitation arrives, announcing that the kingdom of God is at hand, their leaders spurn the king’s son, who will rule over the kingdom. Their behavior is parallel to that of the husbandmen in the previous parable.
- (:6-7) Final Rejection of Violent Jewish Opposition Met with Angry Destruction
“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.”
Grant Osborne: Apparently the rebels are all from the same city, and the reprisal is directed only at them (“those murderers”) rather than at all who have rejected the invitation. Yet the others will face the king’s displeasure as well. The rage of the king and his strong response pictures God’s wrath at “the day of the Lord.”
J. M. Sherwood – The Biblical Illustrator: The danger of slighting these invitations.
- It cannot fail to provoke the anger of God. “The king was wrath.”
- It inevitably forfeits all the blessings of Christ’s meditation and sacrifice.
- It shuts the door of mercy against the sinner.
C. (:8-10) Replacement Guests Sovereignly Summoned and Graciously Hosted
- (:8-9) Replacement Gentile Guests Sovereignly Summoned
“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.’”
Matthew Henry: The commission he gave to the servants, to invite other guests. The inhabitants of the city (Matthew 22:7; Matthew 22:7) had refused; Go into the high-ways then; into the way of the Gentiles, which at first they were to decline, Matthew 10:5. Thus by the fall of the Jews salvation is come to the Gentiles, Romans 11:11; Romans 11:12; Ephesians 3:8. Note, Christ will have a kingdom in the world, though many reject the grace, and resist the power, of that kingdom. Though Israel be not gathered, he will be glorious. The offer of Christ and salvation to the Gentiles was,
(1.) Unlooked for and unexpected; such a surprise as it would be to wayfaring men upon the road to be met with an invitation to a wedding feast. The Jews had notice of the gospel, long before, and expected the Messiah and his kingdom; but to the Gentiles it was all new, what they had never heard of before (Acts 17:19; Acts 17:20), and, consequently, what they could not conceive of as belonging to them. See Isaiah 65:1; Isaiah 65:2.
(2.) It was universal and undistinguishing; Go, and bid as many as you find. The highways are public places, and there Wisdom cries, Proverbs 1:20. “Ask them that go by the way, ask anybody (Job 21:29), high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, young and old, Jew and Gentile; tell them all, that they shall be welcome to gospel-privileges upon gospel-terms; whoever will, let him come, without exception.“
- (:10) Replacement Gentile Guests Graciously Hosted
“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.”
Stu Weber: It was as shocking then as it is now that God accepts the worst of sinners unconditionally. As long as a sinner shows a willingness to accept God’s grace by faith, God will transform him or her into a kingdom citizen. With such a group of people the king filled his wedding hall. It was a blend of good and evil, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, wealthy and poor. Truly, the Lord will fill his kingdom with “all nations” or all peoples.
II. (:11-13) CONTEMPT FOR KINGDOM REQUIREMENTS — THE INAPPROPRIATE GUEST
A. (:11) No Righteousness
“But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests,
he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes,”
Homer Kent: It represents the robe of imputed righteousness that God graciously provides to man through faith (Isa 61:10).
Van Parunak: So the picture is the same as in Colossians: the white garments are the practical righteousness in the lives of believers, which is made possible by God’s gracious gift of free salvation.
Putting these results together, the guest without a garment is a false professor in the church who is revealed by the lack of righteousness in his life. The parable thus repeats what the Lord taught about false prophets in the Sermon on the Mount:
Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Once again, we see the shadow of the fig tree. Simply being in the church doesn’t save somebody. True inclusion depends on giving evidence of our salvation
William Hendriksen: Does this mean, then, that the wedding garment is to be limited to “the imputed righteousness which is ours by faith”? (Lenski) Not at all. God not only imputes but also imparts righteousness to the sinner whom he pleases to save. Although these two must be distinguished, they must not be separated. . . not only guilt must be forgiven but also the old way of life must be laid aside and the new life to the glory of God must take its place. Briefly, the sinner must, by God’s grace, “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). There must be a complete turnabout, a thorough-going renewal or “conversion,” exactly as Jesus himself had taught (Matt. 4:17), and as the apostles after him were going to teach.
The one thought of the parable, then, is this: “Accept God’s gracious invitation, lest while others enter into glory you be lost. But remember that membership in the visible church does not guarantee salvation. Complete renewal (including both justification and sanctification), the putting on of Christ, is what is necessary.”
B. (:12) No Excuses
“and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’
And he was speechless.”
The Biblical Illustrator: The hypocrite self-condemned
The guest referred to was speechless because
- He could not plead ignorance of the will of the king who had invited him to the feast.
- He could not plead that in his case the wedding garment was not necessary.
- He could not plead that a wedding garment was not placed within his reach.
- He had despised the wedding garment.
- He was overwhelmed with a sense of guilt.
Learn the worthlessness of mere profession, and the necessity of being prepared for coming judgment.
C. (:13) No Escape
“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.’”
John Calvin: Let us not flatter ourselves with the empty title of faith, but let every man seriously examine himself, that at the final review he may be pronounced to be one of the lawful guests; for, as Paul reminds us, that the vessels in the Lord’s house are not all of the same kind, so
let every one that calleth on the name of the Lord
depart from iniquity, (2 Timothy 2:19.)
I enter no farther, at present, into the question about the eternal election of God; for the words of Christ mean nothing more than this, that the external profession of faith is not a sufficient proof that God will acknowledge as his people all who appear to have accepted of his invitation.
III. (:14) FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE – OPEN INVITATION BUT SOVEREIGN ELECTION
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Grant Osborne: The play on words between “called” (κλητοί) and “chosen” (ἐκλεκτοί) is the key. The “called” are those “invited” (see the cognate καλέω in vv. 4, 8, 9) and refers to the sense of election Israel claimed as the special people of God. However, the leaders and those who followed them in rejecting God’s Son were not the truly “elect”/“chosen” of God. Here there is both human responsibility and divine sovereignty at work, a fitting conclusion to the parable. “Called” (κλητοί) catches it well: the people must respond to God’s summons with both repentance and right living to be part of God’s elect!
Stu Weber: The adjective chosen suggests that the faith decision is not totally in our hands, but it is a response to God’s sovereign election. In particular, the unbelieving religious leaders were among those called but not chosen.