INTRODUCTION: Let’s Enter the King’s Palace
The great promise of God is the anointing of the Holy Spirit, whose temple we have become (1 Co. 6:19). The Holy Spirit lives in us and speaks from the word of God to wash our hearts in the water of the word (Eph. 5:26). Therefore, as we listen to this lesson, let the Holy Spirit speak to you through the text of God’s word.
Let’s listen carefully to these passages to prepare us for today’s text:
Psalm 45:13-15 (CSB) In her chamber, the royal daughter is all glorious, her clothing embroidered with gold. 14 In colorful garments she is led to the king; after her, the virgins, her companions, are brought to you. 15 They are led in with gladness and rejoicing; they enter the king’s palace.
Revelation 19:4-9 (CSB) Then the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who is seated on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah! 5 A voice came from the throne, saying, Praise our God, all his servants, and the ones who fear him, both small and great! 6 Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying, Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns! 7 Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has prepared herself. 8 She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These words of God are true.”
PARABLE: The Wedding Banquet
The first movement of this parable runs from verses 1-7 and shows the King’s lavish preparations for the wedding feast and the pursuit of grace to save hardened sinners.
The second movement of this parable runs from verses 8-14 and illustrates the call of the gospel to the Gentiles and the wedding-garment requirement of those who come to the wedding feast.
Read Matthew 22:1-14
Verse 1: Jesus Teaches in Parables
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying…
The proliferation of parables in Christ’s passion week indicates his judgment that Jerusalem’s heart was so very hard:
Matthew 13:10-11, 13-15 (CSB) Then the disciples came up and asked him, “Why are you speaking to them in parables?” 11 He answered, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. 13 That is why I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. 14 Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You will listen and listen, but never understand; you will look and look, but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back— and I would heal them.
While the Holy Spirit reveals the secrets of the Kingdom to “babes in Christ”, parables conceal the kingdom of heaven from the hard-hearted as judgment against them.
Verse 2: The Kingdom of Heaven
The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
God presents the Kingdom of heaven to us by the abundance of his grace in Christ in the same way that a King gives a lavish wedding celebration to his son.
The coming of Christ is celebrated by God’s grace in:
- The forgiveness of our guilt
- The washing of our sins
- The removal of our sorrows
- The victory over death
- The restoration of peace and favor with God
- The restoration of fellowship and communion with God
- The inheritance of all things
- The fulness of joy and gladness in eternal life
The advent of the kingdom of heaven in Christ is lavished with all the grace and blessings of God so that in him there will be no lack or want of provision.
Verse 3: Invitations Sent
He sent his slaves to summon those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come.
The servants who were sent to summon the King’s guests were the prophets of old:
Matthew 23:37 (CSB) Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Jesus illustrates the persistent grace of God that continually calls us to partake of the Lord’s table, but the stubbornly hard heart of man refuses the call of God, just as Paul wrote, “Because of your hardened and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed” (Romans 2:5).
They were indifferent to the King’s wedding banquet; it did not “resonate” with them.
In this way, Jesus’ parable illustrates the incompatibility between those who love the world and the kingdom of heaven. Through persistent grace, God calls sinners to come to his wedding feast, but there are some – referred to in this parable as “the unworthy ones” – who see the things of God’s kingdom as irrelevant and uninteresting, even hostile!
Verse 4: Come to the Wedding Banquet
Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”
The second call of grace is even more gracious than the first as the pursuit of God’s grace intensifies the invitation by displaying the lavish riches of God’s intended kindness like the bounty of a wedding feast.
God’s pursuit of man is relentless:
Proverbs 8:1-8, 35-36 (CSB) Doesn’t wisdom call out? Doesn’t understanding make her voice heard? 2 At the heights overlooking the road, at the crossroads, she takes her stand. 3 Beside the gates leading into the city, at the main entrance, she cries out: 4 “People, I call out to you; my cry is to the children of Adam. 5 Learn to be shrewd, you who are inexperienced; develop common sense, you who are foolish. 6 Listen, for I speak of noble things, and what my lips say is right. 7 For my mouth tells the truth, and wickedness is detestable to my lips. 8 All the words from my mouth are righteous; none of them are deceptive or perverse. 35 For the one who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, 36 but the one who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”
Everywhere we go – on the mountain tops, at the crossroads, beside the gates, at the busy entrance – the grace of God pursues us with all wisdom and understanding to convict us and turn us back onto the path of life.
When you go astray, Wisdom raises her voice and cries aloud; God’s grace pursues you to turn you back into his pasture like a good shepherd pursues his wandering sheep.
How many times have you been pursuing an end that you know is wrong, but the prick of conviction won’t leave you alone? Maybe your preacher says something that pierces your heart with a truth that you can’t ignore, or a friend gives you a timely word of encouragement; or you may sit down to read the very word of God and it speaks directly to your wayward actions. This is God turning you to the “right” or to the “left”; he is shepherding your soul, therefore, do not silence him!
The Lord illustrates in this parable how God sends his servants with the gospel invitation to display the riches of his grace in Christ to the lost world; the gospel is God’s invitation to sinners to come to the heavenly wedding banquet!
The Lord’s table is set with the delicacies of righteousness, and he invites weary and burdened souls to come in and feast:
Hebrews 10:14 (NIV) For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
1st Corinthians 1:30-31 (CSB) It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
Matthew 5:6 (CSB) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
By Christ’s work on the cross and the resurrection of the Holy Spirit according to God’s eternal plan, you and I are made whole again, our sins washed away, and we who were once clothed in the filthy rags of sin are clothed in radiant garments of righteousness!
Verses 5-7: The Wrath of the King
But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. 22:6 The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them. 22:7 The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire.
The royal proceedings of the heavenly banquet are irrelevant and even offensive to those who do not love heavenly things!
We who love Jesus might ask, “how can anyone be indifferent towards such grace and love?”
Might I suggest:
- they despised the things that compose God’s Kingdom
- they loved the things that compose this world’s kingdoms
Their “joys”, “treasures”, “hopes”, “concerns”, and even their “fears” are fixated on this world. They are completely indifferent to the things of God. Therefore, his message does not touch their hearts.
This is the danger that Jesus talked about in his parable of the sower:
Matthew 13:22 (CSB) Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
Now we see the danger in setting our mind and heart on the things of this world:
Luke 21:34-35 (CSB) Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly 35 like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth.
The king’s fury is now Jesus’ second warning of imminent destruction that he has issued to unbelieving Jerusalem (see 21:38-41).
Verses 8-9: They Were Not Worthy
Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy. 22:9 So go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’
This is the second movement of Jesus’ parable that runs from verses 8-14 and illustrates the call of the gospel to the Gentiles and the wedding-garment requirement of those who come to the wedding feast.
Jesus uses this parable illustration to explain how God’s invitation to the Jews was turned away by their indifference and went out to the Gentiles instead:
Romans 1:16 (CSB) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
Matthew 8:11 (CSB) I tell you that many will come from east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
Romans 11:17-22 (CSB) Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, 18 do not boast that you are better than those branches. But if you do boast—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 True enough; they were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but beware,, 21 because if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
Verse 10: Both the Good and Evil Invited
And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found, both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
The mercy and grace of this invitation are seen in extending his invitation to both “the bad and the good”:
Matthew 21:31 (CSB) Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.
In Jesus’ parable of the two sons, he illustrated how the son who initially accepted his father’s request, but then disobeyed, was supplanted in righteousness by the son who initially rejected his father’s request, but then regretted his disobedience and obeyed his father.
In the same way, the gospel goes out to all kinds of people:
Sometimes the gospel comes to righteous men like the Centurion who came to Jesus to heal his daughter.
But sometimes the gospel comes to unrighteous men like Matthew the Tax Collector – the man who wrote the gospel of our current study – and these wicked me who have lived their whole lives in disobedience hear the gospel and are changed by it, turning back to God and are saved by the riches of God’s mercy.
For this reason, we must never show favoritism based on someone’s economic, educational, or social status. We must never withhold the gospel from anyone, no matter how unsavory or wicked we think them to be. The gospel is God’s power to save sinners, YES, even a sinner like me!!!
Jesus illustrated this point in another short parable that we need to hear:
Luke 18:9-14 (CSB) He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth, of everything I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, have mercy on me,, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Human prejudice is antithetical to the nature of the gospel, and we must make certain that we are always compelled by the love of Christ towards all people.
How our heart responds to people around us – both bad and good – indicates the progress of our sanctification in Christ.
Verses 11-13: No Wedding Clothes
But when the king came in to see the wedding guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 22:12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But he had nothing to say.22:13 Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!’
Jesus’ conclusion to this parable illustrates the day of judgment when he will separate the sheep from the goats (Mt. 25:31-46) by explaining that day as the time when we who came to Christ will stand before him, some clothed in wedding garments and some clothed in common streetwear.
But who is this man who was not wearing the appropriate wedding clothes?
Philippians 3:18-19 (CSB) For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things
Titus 1:16 (CSB) They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.
Matthew 7:21-23 (CSB) 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 in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!
The man who did not come wearing the appropriate wedding clothes illustrates those who hear the gospel but are unchanged by it and do not come clothed in Christ:
- Their heart remains fixed on this world
- Their mind remains fixed on this world
- They live their life how people of this world live their lives
How does one put on Christ and be clothed in wedding garments?
Galatians 3:27 (CSB) For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.
Ephesians 4:20-24 (CSB) But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on, the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.
Revelation 19:8 (CSB) She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.
When we come to Christ through faith, we are baptized into him and clothed by God with Christ according to the riches of his grace.
Being clothed in Christ by the grace of God, we must put off our old way of living and are made new by the Spirit of God as we learn from the grace of God to put on righteousness by faith.
Titus 2:11-15 (CSB) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works. 15 Proclaim these things; encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Verse 14: The Chosen
For many are called, but few are chosen.
The conclusion to this parable is that God calls many people through the message of the gospel, but only those who receive the grace of Christ by faith and are subsequently clothed in Christ will be chosen. We must not think that we can come to the wedding banquet unchanged by the grace of Christ – wearing our old man like filthy rags of sin – this message is of paramount importance; anyone who comes to the wedding banquet having heard the call, but comes unchanged by God’s grace will be cast out and destroyed with the unbelieving because they received the grace of God in vain through their disobedience:
Hebrews 4:1-2, 6-7 (CSB) Therefore, since the promise to enter his rest remains, let us beware that none of you be found to have fallen short. 2 For we also have received the good news just as they did. But the message they heard did not benefit them, since they were not united with those who heard it in faith. 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience, 7 he again specifies a certain day—today. He specified this speaking through David after such a long time: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.