Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Bible Study Notes

Matthew 22: 1-22

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
The Parable of the Wedding Feast


The Parable of the Wedding Feast

General Idea: This parable is about rejection, but it is also about acceptance! The image is of Christ as the bridegroom, whose guests have turned on Him. He then invites any and everyone, and the invitation is still open for us today! God rejects those who reject Him, and opens Himself to those who are open to Him-regardless of race or social status. We are all worthy under grace; all who put their faith in Him are accepted in Christ! Even though this is an open invitation, we are warned that we cannot enter His feast by our own self righteousness, for it is dirty rags, unfit for Him and the feast (Isa, 61:10; 64:4-6; 2 Cor. 5:21). This passage continues Jesus' discourse on the Kingdom, which began in chapter 21, about who would inherit the Kingdom and how the original heirs rejected God's Son and plan (Gal. 4:4).

 

As soon as this parable was finished, the Pharisees become indignant, once again sending their goons to try to trap Jesus. They  thought they had come up with the perfect "no-win scenario," a way to trap Jesus so no answer could be given that would satisfy either the Jews or the Romans. Their intention was to place Him in mortal danger with either the Romans or the religious leaders-depending on His answers. Condemning taxes would outrage the Romans but please the Jews, and visa versa.

 

1.   The Kingdom is like. Jesus is comparing, just for an illustration, so people could start to comprehend the deeper, spiritual concepts. The king represents God, the son represents Israel's elect status before God, the servants represent the prophets, and the guests represent the Jews who would not listen to the Good News.

a.   Wedding feast. This was not like it is today, a few hours of hosting a few invited relatives and guests. Back then, it was a week-long festival; the wealthy or a king would invite the entire city. Thus, the time commitment to attend a wedding was difficult-a week, plus travel time away from your business or farm. This was a strain, yet it was also a necessary and joyful event that few would ever refuse. Ironically, the time and loss of income was much more severe for the peasants who became the attendees of the feast! For them, it was more of an honor than a sacrifice and they were more than willing to comply.

b.   Invited. The original invitees would be the aristocrats, landowners, leaders of the community, religious leaders, and Roman officials.  The sacrifice from being away from their business and obligations would be minimal.

c.   Not willing. Displeasing a feudal king would send terror to anyone in the land, as it would mean death or, at least, loss of property, title, and privilege!

d.   Call those who were invited. Culturally, then, as today, the invitations were delivered months in advance; everyone already knew the time, day, and privilege-yet chose not to go. The parallel is that we are given His Word, His revelation in nature (Rom. 1), and the Spirit who says come (Rev. 22:17), yet people reject the feast of eternal life and replace it with the trivialities of life that end up meaningless and corrupt. People know they can never say, I never knew about God; we have no excuse not to be in Christ!

e.   Come to the wedding. The king reiterates his call. The image is the king being extra gracious, giving time for people to accept, just as our Lord does for us; but, there is a cutoff, and when we die, it is too late! The king humbles himself and extends honor that is both unnecessary and undeserved. Do we realize what an honor it is to be in Him? Do we realize how gracious God has been with us, both individually and with humanity as a whole?

f.    Made light of it. The people actually teased and joked about a king who held their lives and livelihood in his hands; how extremely foolish! Of course, the most foolish thing we could ever do is to reject God's saving offer! We have no right to be rude to God or act foolishly toward Him (Hab. 1:12-13; Col. 3:5-17)!

 

2.   Seized, Killed. These were ways the prophets were martyred. The servants of a King were of much higher social status than they, showing the disloyalty, contemptuous attitude, and stupidity of these people!

a.   Spitefully. It was also culturally unacceptable then to mistreat an emissary, as he represented the person or kingdom who sent him. To kill an emissary was to show you would kill the king as well, or would revolt in treason. Yet, this is how most people treat God and the people He sends and uses!

b.   This parable is similar to the one in Luke 14:16-24, but not the same.  Jesus gave them to different people on different occasions.

c.   He was furious. The king had the right to be angry and punish the people who rejected his gracious offer, as our Lord does with us. Never forget that God is a God of love, but also of holiness (Isa. 5:16; Ro 1:1-23; Rev. 4:8; 6:10; 15:4)!

d.   Burned up their city. This typical military practice also foretells the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

e.   The wedding is ready. It would take weeks, even months to gather the exotic supplies needed to prepare the feast; for a king, nothing was out of reach.

f.     Go to the highways. Our election is not a result of social or religious status; it comes only by Christ's providence (Matt. 8:11-12; John 15:16; 17:6; Eph. 1:4; 2:10; 1 Pet. 2:9). Who would you rather have decide your ultimate fate-your fallen, limited thinking, or God, who transcends knowledge and time, who is loving, and who has your best in mind?

g.   Gathered…good and bad. The king's son would be dishonored if there were no guests, so even bad ones were allowed.

h.   Did not have a wedding garment. This was not about being in poverty and not being able to afford one, as one could have been borrowed; it referred to insolence and disrespect and not taking the commitment seriously. He was faking his allegiance! Even peasants would know these customs and adhere to them. The honor was much greater than the cost to attend, as it is with our life in Christ!

i.     Outer darkness is the description for eternal damnation and punishment--hell!

j.     Many are called few are chosen. God's call is an open invitation, but the invitation must be accepted; our faith and trust are requirements. We cannot enter on our own effort, but we still need to put in the effort of our response and determination. This is equivalent to Atonement and how we need to be clothed in Christ; His covering makes us secure in God's sight (Zach. 3:3-5; 2 Thess. 2:14; Rev. 3:18; 19:8).

 

3.   The Pharisees plotted. They sought to entrap Jesus in His own words, to choose the revolutionary thinking of denouncing Rome, as "Spartacus" and "Barbarous" did. This could lead to His premature crucifixion in the hands of Rome. Or, they could try to make Him choose to collaborate with the Romans thus alienating Him from His fellow Jews.

a.   Entangle Him. The Leaders assumed He would choose Rome because He often denounced their leadership. This would give them the opportunity to estrange Jesus' popularity and bring criminal charges against Him.

b.   Herodians were agents of Herod, a native Jew and king, who sought to restore his power over Pilate. They conspired for and supported Roman rule. They normally did not work with the Pharisees who were loyal to their interpretation of Jewish law. Yet, both groups feared the Romans and any messiah figure as a threat, because the Romans could and would send in their armies and destroy the Temple as they finally did in 70 A.D.

c.   Pharisees were passionate, Jewish patriots who opposed Roman rule.

d.   Why do you test me? Testing was a typical Jewish approach to arguments and settling allegiances (1 Kings 10:1). Jesus was not upset over being tested, rather, their hypocrisy! This theme of testing and their hypocrisy becomes the theme for the rest of the chapter.

e.   Tax money referred to the "poll tax." It was a copper coin with the emperor's image stamped on it. This showed the emperor as divine, and the Jews detested this. To the Jew, it meant submission to Rome and not to God.

f.     Whose image…they marveled. This demonstrates Jesus' wisdom was beyond that of the great minds of the time, who thought their cleverness could not be undone. We have to realize we can never be clever enough; we cannot thwart God and His plan. We either comply or are cast into darkness!

g.   Caesar refers to loyalty to civil government. Jesus does not condemn service and respect to it, even though it was corrupt; one's allegiance is where one's heart is (Rom. 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2; 1 Tim. 2:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17)!

 

          Jesus turns our attention from the mundane things of life that seem to consume us, such as taxes, to the deeper things-our spiritual attitude, growth, and commitment. When we get the invitation, our spiritual attitude, by the infusing of the Spirit, will allow us to reply. Or else we will heed our carnal nature which will distract it. This is about whom we serve and whom we trust. Is our allegiance with and to God, or material things? The coin had Caesar's image; what representation does our heart have? That is what is important to God! How important is this to you? We have to realize our commitment to Him may seem severe, yet the wonder, joy, and benefits far outweigh any sacrifice! We, as Christians saved by His work, are the heirs to the Kingdom. This includes the entire world-everyone who has ever lived and will ever live have and will have received the Word and the invitation, yet few will accept it. We cannot just barge in either because we need His covering or His clothes, which are also freely given to us by our faith. We are only presentable when we have His covering lest our sin show and alienate us from God as enemies.
 
 

Questions:

 

1.   If you had to plan a wedding, what would it entail? Who would you invite? Who would you not invite? How does your list reflect how God invites us?

 
 

2.   How does the fact that God invites everyone to His eternal feast of eternal salvation appeal to you? So, why would people not want to accept His offer?

 
 

3.   Can we ever say, hey I did not know, I did not get the invite?

 
 

4.   How did Jesus handle the "no-win scenario?" How would you handle such a quiz?

 
 

5.   When did you, and what did it take for you to start to comprehend the deeper, spiritual concepts of God?

 
 

6.   Do we realize what an honor we have to be in Him? Does your church realize how gracious God has been with us, individually and with humanity as a whole? What are we to do about this?

 
 

7.   Why would the people actually tease and joke about a king who held their lives and livelihood in his hands?

 
 

8.   Can you think of a modern version of this parable?

 
 

9.   How do we seek to seize His prophets and Word and kill them?

 
 

10. Do you think the king had the right to be angry and punish the people who rejected his gracious offer? What about God's right as our creator and Lord to punish us for refusing His invitation?

 
 

11. Who would you rather have decide your ultimate fate-your fallen, limited thinking, or a God who transcends knowledge and time, who is loving, and who has your best in mind?

 
 

12. Why can we not enter on our own effort? What effort do we need to put forth to respond to His invitation?

 
 

13.  What were the motives of the Pharisees and Herodians? How are such motives still a part of some Christian mindsets and church life? What can we do to make sure we never have such motivations?

 
 

14. How does this passage help demonstrate that Jesus' wisdom was beyond that of the great minds of the time? How does this strengthen your faith?

 
 

15. What characteristics would it take for the Pharisees and Herodians to think their cleverness could not be undone?

 
 

16. Why do you suppose Jesus answered the way He did?

 
 

17. The coin had Caesar's image; what representation does your heart have?

 
 

18. How is your spiritual attitude? How can you make sure your assessment is correct?

 
 

19. Is your allegiance with and to God, or to material things? How can you make sure that your attitude stays focused on your growth and commitment in Him?

 
 

20. We have to realize our commitment to Him may seem severe; yet the wonder, joy, and benefits far outweigh any sacrifice! How can this help focus you on Christ and away from the distractions of life?

  

 

© 2004 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

 

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