Parable of the Wedding Invitation

Matthew 22:1-14

And answering, Jesus again spoke to them again in parables saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is likened to an human king, who makes marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call the invited to the wedding and they were not willing to come.

Again he sent other servants saying, “Tell those having been invited, ‘Look! I have prepared my dinner: my bulls and my fatlings have been killed, and all are ready! Come into the wedding.’”

But uncaring, those went away, one indeed to his own field, the one yet to his merchandise.

But the rest, taking hold of his servants, abused and slew them.

But hearing [this], the king was angered, and sending his armies, destroyed those murderers and burned up their city.

Then he said to his servants, ‘Indeed, the wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Be going therefore, into the highways (literally: “exits of the roadways”), and as many as you find, call into the marriage!’

And those servants, coming out into the roadways, and gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good; and the wedding was filled with guests.

But entering to see the guests, the king noticed (lit: perceived) there a man who had not put on wedding clothes.

And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you enter here having put on no wedding clothes?’ And he was silenced.

Then said the king to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into the outer darkness! There shall be weeping and gnashing of the teeth.’

For many are called, yet few chosen.”

Points to consider:

After His triumphal entry, Jesus had been reprimanding the Pharisees and the chief priests who had been questioning His “authority” to do the things he had been doing. After telling two parables showing them that they would not enter the kingdom of heaven while others considered by them to be unworthy, would enter in, because they repented at the message of salvation, Jesus told the above parable in response to their anger at His condemnation of them. Having rightly answered that the owner of the vineyard would destroy those entrusted with tending His vineyard, who abused His property, His servants, and His Son, these men recognized that Jesus was referring to their abuse of His people under their religious leadership. He fulfilled their anger with the wedding banquet parable.

Of course, the King represents God the Father, and his son represents Jesus Christ. The wedding represents the “marriage supper of the Lamb”, or the uniting of Christ with His bride, the church. Notable is that the wedding is prepared; nothing remains but that the guests join Him.

The first group of wedding guests “had been” invited. The invitation had been issued prior to the meal being ready, so those invitees knew that the event was upcoming. Despising the King and His beneficent invitation, they weren’t interested in participating; some went to other pursuits, while others attacked and murdered His messengers. This group represents the unfaithful Jews, and particularly the religious leaders whom God convicted through many prophets through the centuries. Of course, verse 7 confirms the judgement given by the Pharisees and chief priests to the previous parable, against those who abused and murdered the messengers of the Owner of the vineyard.

The King invitation was now sent to people other than those first invited, representing the Gentiles, or non-Jews. The word translated as “highways” means exits of roadways, suggesting the messengers were to completely depart the territory to find and invite other guests. The King’s instruction was to call “as many as you find” – everyone is invited!

Everyone they found – the text reads “all” and “as many as” – no matter what sort of person they were, was invited and brought to the wedding. God’s invitation is not to the “good” to join Him, but to sinners to repentance and faith; thus we see that “both bad and good” were called to come. The text says that the wedding banquet was “filled” with guests.

The man who was refused admission was not said to have “done” anything to cause his expulsion. Rather, he had failed to clothe himself properly. The verb refers to one putting oneself into a garment, rather than having a garment put upon one. We are not rejected because of our “badness” – or we would all be rejected – we are rejected for failing to put on our appropriate attire. [1] We are to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”, for He is our righteousness. It is each one’s responsibility to don the garment of righteousness – the invitation was issued, a response is necessary, but a condition must be met: we must be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.

Notice that the King was not harsh in his question toward the guest who was not prepared. “Friend, how did this come about?” Yet, the man was put to silence; no answer could be made, indicating that he knew the expectation to come appropriately attired but chose to try to attend without meeting the necessary requirement. But there are no alternatives; we either come clothed with the righteousness of Christ, our bridegroom, or we are not welcome at His banquet. Those who do not attend His banquet, are outside in outer darkness, reserved for the devil and his angels, and those who prefer his rebellion.

Indeed, many are called – the call went out to “all”, “both good and bad”. The call went to the Jews and it went to the Gentiles; all peoples and all people have been summoned to the wedding feast of the Lamb. But they are chosen only who clothe themselves in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

[1] Job 29:14  I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.

Ro 13:14  But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ …

Re 19:8  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Isa 61:10  I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.