Matthew 22:1-2 – And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son”,

This chapter opens with another parable that Jesus speaks to the multitudes.  It begins with a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 

I have been to some very nice wedding receptions, but I have never been to one given by a king. I would certainly expect the king to show the riches of his kingdom in his provisions for this feast, wouldn’t you?  So, in general terms, what would you expect from a celebration like that?

First off, I would anticipate a lot of good food.  While there would be many dishes that I have heard of, there might be some that I didn’t even know existed.  I imagine there would be delicacies that I don’t eat every day.  There might be some things that I have always wanted to try, but never could.

My assumption is that all of the food would be prepared professionally and that it would taste good.  I also imagine a very large amount of desserts and other goodies; things that you don’t really need, but you sure enjoy!  There would also be a large variety of beverages available, as well as yummy little treats at your table!  I am getting hungry just thinking about it!

 There would also be great joy and celebration, wouldn’t there?  After all, the wedding is a celebration of two people who have found each other, gotten to know one another, fallen in love, and now want to be joined as one, so they can face the future together.  They have anticipated being together for a long time and now their desire is fulfilled; their union is complete, and their joy knows no bounds. 

In this wonderful celebration we would expect there to be singing, dancing and music as part of the celebration.

In this parable, the king is God, our heavenly Father.  The bridegroom is Jesus.  Many times in scripture, Jesus is referred to as the bridegroom: John 3:29, Ephesians 5:22-32.

His bride is the church, or all those who have accepted his salvation proposal: Ephesians 5:32, Revelation 19:7-9.

The invitation to the feast is actually the gospel message.  Through the gospel, each person is invited to partake in the marriage covenant of salvation through Jesus Christ.   

For those who accept the invitation, God will not fail to give them any good thing.  His table will be lavishly laden with amazing dishes of protection, provision, health, peace, joy and wisdom.  God will also give us some things we previously did not know existed or never had a chance to experience like forgiveness of sin, access to his throne room, the blessings and gifts of the Holy Spirit and an assurance of eternal life. 

Multitudes of people have accepted the gospel invitation.  They ‘found’ Jesus, got to know him, fell in love with him, and now eagerly desire to be with him for eternity, facing the future with him.  One day, we will see our desire fulfilled; Jesus will complete our union with him by taking us to heaven where our joy will know no bounds.  Music, singing, dancing and celebration will never end as we praise him for eternity!

The gospel is a precious invitation that should NEVER be cast aside!

Matthew 22:3 – “and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.”

The gospel message is the invitation to the wedding.  All those who accept it enter into salvation.  So the servants who call the invited guests are preachers or anyone who shares the gospel message with someone else.

The first people to be invited to this wedding feast were the Jews.  As you recall, when Jesus sent his disciples out to preach about the kingdom of heaven, he specifically told them to preach only to the Jews:

Matthew 10:5-6 – These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter you not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Later, the apostle Paul affirms that the message of the gospel was to go to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles:

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

A careful reading of the book of Acts confirms this.  On the day of Pentecost, the 3000 people that were saved were Jewish.  The Gentiles were not admitted into the kingdom of heaven until Acts chapter 10, when Peter preaches to Cornelius and his household.

Despite having the place of honor, the Jews decide not to come to the feast.  They rejected the message of Jesus.  

Matthew 22:4 – Again he sent other servants saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is read.  Come to the wedding feast.”’ 

God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, affords us many chances to turn to him.  The Jews had all of the writings of the prophets to look at, and they happily sat under the teaching of John the Baptist, yet when Christ came, they did not respond.

Still, God did not give up on them.  The apostles publicly taught and persuaded large numbers of Jews to accept the gospel message after the resurrection of Christ, but as a whole, the nation still rejected God’s invitation.

Sadly, the rejection of this wonderful invitation is not limited to the Jews during the time of Christ.  Men and women have been rejecting the gospel invitation from the day Jesus rose from the dead until this very day.  There will continue to be those who reject it until the very last moment of time. 

This is a very sad thing to consider, isn’t it?  When we reflect upon how fulfilling it is to be in a relationship with Christ, it should prompt us to have compassion on those who don’t know him – yet.  It should prompt us to spend time in prayer, on behalf of those we love and care for who have still not responded to the call of the gospel.  

Matthew 22:5 – But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,

What do you think of when you read the phrase ‘they paid no attention’?  To me, it indicates a state of indifference.  They simply did not care; they had no value for their own spiritual state/life. 

Because they did not consider their spiritual life important, they found other things which they thought were more worthwhile, or more interesting or more valuable and they spent their time and effort on those things. 

So those in the country went off to their farms and those in the city went off to their businesses.  Both classes chose the things of this temporary realm over a relationship with the creator of the universe! 

Their attitudes and actions were disrespectful and insolent.  Their rudeness was just like a slap in the face to both the King and his Son.

As horrible as this seems, many of the people in our day do the same thing.  They have no time for God while they are busy pursuing their own passions.  They have no problem ignoring the sacrifice that Jesus made for them on the cross.  People today are still’ slapping’ Jesus in the face.

Matthew 22:6 – while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.

This refers to the treatment of the prophets and later the apostles.  They were beaten, jailed and martyred for the sake of the gospel.  These ministers of the gospel brought only good news of hope and salvation, yet for this they were abused and tormented.

Around the world today, many people are still persecuted and martyred for inviting sinners to the marriage feast!

Matthew 22:7 – The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murders and burned their city.

As we would expect, the King is not going to sit idly by and allow those who oppose him to kill his messengers.  Notice this – it is the murder of his messengers, not the rejection of his invitation that angers the King. 

As punishment for their wicked treatment of his servants, the King is going to destroy them and burn their city.  In this case, God uses the Roman armies as his rod of correction.  He causes them to disburse the Jews and burn Jerusalem, completely destroying it in 70 AD.    

It is worth noting that God is always angered by the shedding of innocent blood.  It made him angry way back in the days of Manasseh (2 Kings 24:4), it angered him during the days of Christ, and it will anger him in the last days of the earth, as the wicked continue to lash out against the righteous before the Lord returns again.

Sadly, the United States has shed a lot of innocent blood.  Unless we repent for all of the innocent babies we have aborted, we are sure to face judgment as well.   

Matthew 22:8-9 – Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.  Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 

Here is an interesting fact:  God did not reject his people, they rejected him! 

This was the same behavior that got them into trouble earlier, as they departed from Egypt.  Back then, God had prepared the Promised Land for his people.  It was sitting there, dripping with milk and honey, just waiting for them to claim it.  But because the people chose to rebel against God, they died wandering around in the desert!

So it is in the gospel dispensation. God has made salvation ready and available to anyone who will accept it.  And anyone who accepts it is automatically made a joint heir with Christ, the owner of the universe, and whatever lies beyond it!  Yet, there will be people who will reject his offer, choosing to experience death as they wander around hell!

Since the original guests (the Jews) were no longer interested in coming to the feast, God sends his messengers out into the streets to invite anyone who will come (Gentiles).

Now remember, parables do not match exactly with life.  In this case, the parable makes it sound like Gentiles were included only because the Jews had rejected the gospel, but that is not true.  From the beginning, God had planned to invite Gentiles to the salvation feast too:

Isaiah 49:6 – And he [God] said, It is too small a thing that you [Jesus] should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.   

So, as Gentiles, we have reason to rejoice because God has also called us to the feast of salvation.  However, we are not better than the Jews; all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  God will one day call the Jews back to himself in a mighty way.

Matthew 22:10 – And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good.  So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Imagine that you are traveling (or living) on the street.  All of a sudden, someone comes up to you and gives you an invitation to the feast of a King!  At the very least, that would be unexpected, wouldn’t it?  I dare say that many of us wouldn’t believe it; we would think it was a trick of some kind.  Imagine how astonishing it would be to find out that it was true!  You would be sitting in that hall wondering why you were invited!

The salvation of the Gentiles was just as surprising.  The Jews had long expected a Messiah to come; but the Gentiles entertained no such hopes.  To be admitted to the kingdom of heaven and all of its benefits simply by faith in Jesus was an astonishing thing indeed! 

So God gathers together people of every tribe, tongue and nation to make up the united body of Christ.  Together, we make up his bride.  Together, we will enjoy the benefits of salvation.  Together, we will be with Christ for all of eternity.  

Matthew 22:11-12 – But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.  And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’  And he was speechless.

Thus far, everything has been exceptionally wonderful.  The invitation to salvation and all of its benefits has been freely bestowed upon the good, the bad and the ugly, without exception.  But now we come to a very somber and troubling portion of the story.

The King circulates among his guests, and he immediately sees someone without a wedding garment. 

Notice that the other guests did not recognize that this man was improperly clothed.  To them, he seemed normal and comfortable.  He blended in with the crowd. 

In the parable, this man represents a hypocrite or a false Christian; a person who claims to be a Christian but is not.  He is a person who attends church regularly and knows all the religious lingo of Christians.  He sings the songs at church.  He takes communion.  He puts money in the offering plate.  He may even participate in some good works, but he has never actually given his heart and life to Jesus Christ.  He has not put on/dressed himself in the righteousness of Christ.  He has not adorned himself with holiness. 

Sadly, there are some of these people in the body of Christ right now.  Man looks on the outward appearance, and so to us, these people look fine.  We believe they are true members of the body of Christ and we accept them as such.   

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart.

But God looks on the heart.  He immediately knows who truly belongs to him and who is just pretending.  So I invite you, right now, to examine your relationship to God.  Have you truly given your life to him?  Have you asked him to forgive your sin and cleanse you?  Are you following after him every day? 

1 Corinthians 11:31 – For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

Your eternal relationship to God is not something you want to play around with.  So judge yourself right now and be sure you are right with him today!     

Matthew 22:13 – Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness.  In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The hypocrite is treated as the criminal trespasser that he is – he is bound and shackled, then cast into a dark prison.  This prison represents hell.  Those who are without Christ will be cast into hell after being judged.  Hell is a real place of great darkness, sorrow and torment. 

Let me repeat that:  Hell is a very real place.  I urge you to seek the forgiveness of Christ right now!

Matthew 22:14 – For many are called, but few are chosen.

Everyone is called/invited to salvation in Jesus Christ.  But some will chose other things over Christ.  Some will be indifferent to the call.  Some will pretend to accept the call, but will not.

What will you do?

Matthew 22:15-16 – Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.  And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.’

‘Entangle’ is a very interesting word.  It means to ensnare, as birds are taken by a net.  When snaring birds, you must first lay a hidden trap, then lead or entice the bird into the snare and suddenly spring it upon him.  This is the intention of the people who come to speak to Christ.  Luke tells us that their ultimate goal is to have Jesus arrested:

Luke 20:20 – So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him [Jesus] in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.

As you know, the Romans were in power at the time of Christ.  The Romans appointed rulers over the Jews.  These ‘kings’ or rulers were from the Herod family.  This would include Herod the great (who killed all the Jewish boys in Bethlehem 2 years old and under), Herod the tetrarch (the guy who beheaded John the Baptist) and Herod Agrippa (who slew the apostle James and imprisoned Peter). There was also Herod Philip, Archelaus and others. We could go on and on.  Quite a family, weren’t they?

Surprisingly, there was a Jewish political party who supported the ruler ship of the Herods.  They were known as the Herodians.  They often sided with the Sadducees against the Pharisees.  This group was in favor of the Jews paying tribute (tax) money to the Romans.    

On the other hand, we have the Pharisees.  As you know, these Jewish religious leaders had long ago rejected Jesus as the Messiah and did everything in their power to oppose him.  What you might not know is that they were staunchly opposed to the Herodians. 

Why was that?  Well, it so happens that the Pharisees had a real problem with paying taxes to Caesar/Rome.  Their opinion was based on the Old Testament law:

Deuteronomy 17:15 – You may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose.  One from along your brothers you shall set as king over you.  You may not put a foreigner over you who is not your brother.

The Pharisees considered the Herods (and the Romans) to be false kings and they despised them.  They would never willingly support the idea of paying tribute (taxes) to them. Of course, they did pay, but only because they were forced to, and they hated it!  Most of the Jewish masses sided with the Pharisees on this particular point.

So here we find a very wicked and malicious union – two groups who normally oppose each other have joined forces to see if they can somehow ensnare Jesus and have him arrested.

Matthew 22:17 – ‘Tell us, then, what you think.  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’

Their basic plan is not difficult to understand. They ask Jesus if they should pay money to Rome or not. 

If Jesus sides with the Herodians by saying ‘yes’, it would cause a major uproar among the masses of Jews who did not agree with this view.  Jesus would be portrayed as being an enemy of the rights of the Jewish people.  The Pharisees hoped that this would destroy the people’s faith in Jesus as Messiah.  

If Jesus sides with the Pharisees by saying ‘no’, then the Herodians were ready to accuse him of treason/being an enemy of Caesar.  Either way, Jesus would entrap himself, and they could get rid of him (or so they thought!)  

Matthew 22:18 – But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?’

These evil men come to Jesus as if they were true seekers of knowledge.  They flatter Christ with their words.  They believe that they are setting a very clever, secret trap for Jesus and that they are going to ensnare him. 

But Jesus isn’t fooled at all. He has a divine nature that knows the thoughts and intents of a man’s heart. He immediately perceives their true motives, and correctly addresses them in front of the people as hypocrites. 

Matthew 22:19 – ‘Show me a coin for the tax.’  And they brought him a denarius.

The Jews used two different types of money.  When they paid the temple tax, it was with the Jewish shekel.  But Rome would not accept taxes paid in shekels.  The Jews had to pay in Roman money.  That is why they gave Jesus a denarius, not a shekel.

Matthew 22:20 – And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”

Jesus clearly knew what was on the coin.  But he makes his accusers answer the question anyway. Their own words will convict them.  They came with the intention of ensnaring Jesus, but he has turned the tables on them.  They will get caught in their own trap!

Matthew 22:21 – They said, “Caesar’s.”  Then he said to them, ”Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

It is always the exclusive right of the ruling power to print money.  (If you don’t believe that, try to print some twenty dollar bills and see what happens to you!)  Therefore the use of the Roman coins by the Jews proved that they (the Romans) were masters over the Jews.  Thus, there should be no debate about the tax.  Caesar has stamped his image on earthly coins and laid claim to things that pertain to his earthly kingdom.  So give him what belongs to him.

  By the same token, God has stamped his image upon the hearts, souls and minds of men and women.  We should therefore give God what belongs to him – ourselves – and devote our lives to his spiritual kingdom.

Matthew 22:22 – When they heard it, they marveled.  And they left him and went away.

God foils the plans of his enemies and disgraces them as well.  They thought they could defeat God, but his perfect wisdom sent them away crowned with shame, not victory.

Jesus has answered perfectly.  Caesar is satisfied (he gets his money), God is glorified (He is to be honored and served by the people) and the people are edified (they have clear guidance and peace of mind on this contentious political issue).

Let me offer you some encouragement:

The parable of the wedding feast shows us that there will be some church-going people who don’t make it into heaven, because their hearts are not right with God.  Attending church, or communing with nature or meditation or good works are not paths to salvation.    

The only way to be in right standing with God and have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life is to ask Jesus to apply his shed blood to your sins.  You need to ask Jesus to forgive you, and cleanse you from sin.

John 14:6 – Jesus said unto him, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.”

So I encourage everyone reading this post to honestly examine themselves.  Make sure your heart is right before God.  If there is any doubt, stop right now and ask Jesus to forgive you.  Tell him that you want to accept his salvation invitation.   

Let me offer you some relief:

The paying of taxes to Caesar was a really divisive issue back in the day of Christ.  People recognized that this political issue also had spiritual implications.  In the end, Jesus tells them that the important thing is for them to respect the authority God has placed over them and to serve God with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength.

I think this answer can offer relief to many of us today.  The upcoming elections in America seem to have spiritual implications as well, and many people are consumed with worry about the outcome.  Certainly, we should be diligent to examine the issues, be informed and vote for the best candidate, but we also need to remember, that no matter who is elected to the position of authority in the white house, GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE! 

God will decide the future of America.  We can aid him by repenting and praying for our nation.  We can take action as the Holy Spirit directs us (including voting), but our ultimate trust and allegiance belong to God.  So let’s get serious with our Lord and Savior.  Let’s serve him with all our hearts mind, soul and strength!  

Let me offer you some strength:

For all of our lives, certain things have been constant and unchanging, like jobs, health care, schooling, police assistance, sports, travel etc.  But right now, God is allowing those things to be shaken, shifted and changed.  He is showing us that we cannot trust in these things.  I believe He is calling us to depend on Him, not the world around us.  He is drawing us to a closer relationship with Him. 

This may seem very scary and troubling.  But let me assure you that God knew all about you before you were born.  Long ago He saw the circumstances that you and I are facing today.  Keep in mind that God never sets you up to fail.  He sets you up for victory through Jesus.  So whatever you are currently facing, He will give you the grace and strength to walk through it.   

They key is to keep your focus on God.  Don’t let worry or fear of the future consume you.  I urge you to be in constant fellowship with God all day long, through prayer, worship and meditation on the word.  Let God be your source of strength.

Isaiah 12:2-6 – Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.  With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.  And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.  Sing praises the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.  Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitants of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel’.

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