Summary: When we consider our response to God’s invitation and the calling of others to respond, some important factors must be considered as to the nature of the invitation and the results of declining such. Presented in the form of a parable of a wedding banquet

Once thing that characterizes this time of year are all the invitations to Christmas related events. From clubs, community gathering, work parties, to family gatherings, it can be difficult to manage which to go. There are different ways you can deal with all the obligations. You can ignore the invitation or get frustrated at the demands of going. Either choice will most likely result in not being invited again.

Jesus’ message was that God extends a gracious invitation to people to participate in his kingdom. Accepting the invitation leads to joy while rejection leads to punishment. When Jesus spoke of God’s kingdom, he spoke with authority. His stories convicted because he knew his audience. His parables have a universal character; they make the hearer or reader ask, “If this parable is about everyone, I must fit here somewhere. Which character in the story represents me?” Those for whom the parables were immediately intended usually felt their sting (see 21:45; 22:15) (Barton, B. B. (1996). Matthew. Life application Bible commentary (427). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.).

When we consider our response to God’s invitation and the calling of others to respond, some important factors must be considered as to the nature of the invitation and the results of declining such. Presented in the form of a parable of a wedding banquet, in Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus discusses the Kingdom of Heaven and presents:

1) The Invitation Rejected (Matthew 22:1–6), 2) The Rejecters Punished (Matthew 22:7–8), 3) The New Guest Invited (Matthew 22:9–10) 4) The Intruder Expelled (Matthew 22:11–14)

1) The Invitation Rejected (Matthew 22:1–6)

Matthew 22:1-6 [22:1]And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, [2]"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, [3]and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. [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 ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ [5]But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, [6]while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. (ESV)

The parable contains four scenes, the first of which depicts the rejection of the invitation. Although none of His hearers may ever have attended a royal wedding feast, they were all familiar with wedding feasts in general and had some idea of the importance and magnificence of one that a king would prepare for his own son.

To answer the chief priests and elders (21:23), on their bitter challenge of His authority "again Jesus spoke to them in parables" for the third time. It is likely they heard little of what He said, because their minds were by then singularly and unalterably bent on His arrest and execution. They had wanted to seize Him after He related the second parable but were still afraid of what the crowds might do (21:46).

In His first two parables Jesus gave no introduction, saving the explanation and application to the end. In this parable, however, He begins by stating in verse two that it illustrates the kingdom of heaven. Because most Jews believed that the kingdom of heaven was reserved exclusively for them, and possibly a few Gentile proselytes, the audience in the Temple immediately knew that what Jesus was going to say closely applied to them.

• It is essential when we discuss the things of God either among ourselves or to others to convey the reality that the information is no mere speculation or philosophical consideration, but information that has eternal consequences to the listener.

Although Jesus’ audience many have had mistaken ideas about the kingdom of heaven, because the term heaven was so often used as a substitute for the covenant name of God (Yahweh, or Jehovah), most Jews would have understood that it was synonymous with the kingdom of God and represented the realm of God’s sovereign rule. There are past, present, and future as well as temporal and eternal aspects of the kingdom, but it is not restricted to any era or period of redemptive history. It is the continuing, ongoing sphere of God’s rule by grace. In a narrower sense, the phrase is also used in Scripture to refer to God’s dominion of redemption, His divine program of gracious salvation. As Jesus uses the phrase here, it specifically represents the spiritual community of God’s redeemed people, those who are under His lordship in a personal and unique way because of their trust in His Son.

In the ancient Near East, a wedding feast was inseparable from the wedding itself, which involved a week-long series of meals and festivities and was the highlight of all social life. For a royal wedding such as the one Jesus mentions here, the celebration often lasted for several weeks. Guests were invited to stay at the house of the groom’s parents for the entire occasion, and the father would make as elaborate provisions as he could afford. A royal wedding, of course, would be held in the palace, and a king would be able to afford whatever he desired.

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