Throughout Jesus’ ministry He used Parables to teach the people about more difficult topics.
A Parable is simply a story with a moral or a point behind it.
In Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus told a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven and this is how it went…
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
There is a lot to be learned from this parable. Let us break down the four main focuses of this parable before looking at the moral of the story for us today.
1. The Wedding Banquet
As the setting of the story it is clear Jesus is stressing the importance of this wedding. This wedding is not a normal wedding it is for the Prince. This is going to be a royal and glorious wedding. The symbolism here is about the union of the believers to Jesus in Heaven. That day when the church is called up and there will no longer be a church on Earth and Heaven, but they will be one and the same. The Banquet is also representing salvation. As the story explains, the King has prepared a place for all the guests and sent out messengers inviting them, but they do not accept His invitation as expected. which leads to the second main focus on the parable.
2. The Invitations
The King is excited for His Son to be marriage and has prepared everything all that is left to do is invite those who should be there to celebrate the wedding. This middle section of the parable focuses on three different invitations made. The first and the second is to the group who have already been invited. This is understood to be the Jewish people. They already knew the wedding would be coming, but the day was unsure. Now the day has arrived and they are invited to come celebrate.
At first the Kings sends out servants (the prophets and judges) to the people. But instead of joining in the joy of the King and coming they refused the invitation. We know this is clear from looking throughout the Old Testament. The Jews would follow God and obey the prophets and judges for a time, but then would refuse to obey.
Then the King in His great love and joy sends out more servants to invite the people. This time they were not simply ignored, but killed. With this the King is furious. He sends an army to kill the people and destroy their towns!
This is an interesting part of this parable, because it steps away from the realm of story and into prophecy. This idea of the Jews being killed and Jerusalem or “their town” being destroyed happened in 70 AD by the Romans; about 40 years after Jesus told this story.
Now that the ones who knew the wedding was coming have refused twice the King sends His servants to everyone else. The common people as it says in the story. This is the Gentiles or everyone not a Jew. The servants who are sent out this time are the apostles. These are the ones who didn’t already have an invitation to the wedding, but now are guests of the King.
3. Everyone is Welcome!
This is the third main focus of this parable. The invitation was for special guests, but now it is for everyone.
9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
This is an exciting part of the story. As a non-Jewish person; I am thankful the King has extended His invitation to the glorious wedding to people like me.
Paul writes in Romans 1:14-16
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Now that the invitation was not accepted by the Jews it was sent to the Gentiles. This is something that needs to be clarified here to understand the last main focus of the parable.
A wedding at that time, as it is today, is a very big event! People wear their best clothes and do their best to present themselves as worthy of the honor of attending the wedding.
This is why if a king wanted to show just how powerful and rich they were they would provide the food and drink (as we do today), but also provide new clothes for the guests. The King would show how great they are through having clothes specially made for each guest. This is an important historical understanding in order to understand the end of this parable.
4. Wearing Wedding Clothes
As the wedding was beginning the King noticed someone not wearing the clothes that were provided for him. The King had the man removed from the banquet. There is a proper way we must cloth ourselves on that day.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
The man who was there without the clothes that were provided for him was not clothed in Christ through faith. If we continue in Romans 1 we will find Paul gives us the instructions to “live by faith.”
17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, e just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.
The conclusion of this parable is a warning for all of us. We have already seen that the Jews who rejected the invitation were destroyed, but now that the invitation is for all people we must understand that we cannot get into the wedding banquet on our own terms.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
It is only through the righteousness that comes from God can we be properly clothed for that glorious day. If we are simply attended church and not truly clothed with His righteousness through faith we will be like that man who was trying to make it on his own righteousness.
In that day, it will be too late to explain all the good things you did and why you are good enough to stay. All that is loss for the sake of Christ.
I will conclude with a terribly troubling thing Jesus said that connects to this man who attempted to get to Heaven on his own good works.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
This is a troubling passage; for many of us have we done great things for the Lord? Have we worked all our lives to serve Him?
Those things are important, but if we are simply working for our salvation we will be just like the man at the wedding who is thrown out on that day or the people who will say, “Lord Lord…” and Jesus will say “I never Knew you!”
In an age of pretending and following the crowed; be a person who counts it all as loss and fully trusts in Christ through faith. The works will be a product of your love not a way to earn His love.