Summary: There are five important principles for us to learn from the Parable of the Wedding Feast.
THE PARABLE OF THE WEDDING FEAST
Text: Matthew 22:1 – 14
Have you ever received an invitation to a party or celebration? The first invitation that I remember receiving was for a birthday party when I was in the seventh grade. Over the years, I have been invited to graduations, weddings, reunions, and other special events. When you receive an invitation, you can do one of two things: either accept it, or reject it.
The passage that I just read is a parable told by Jesus about a king that invites the people of the kingdom to a wedding feast that he is holding for his son. Back in Jesus’ day, an invitation from a king was a great honor, just as receiving an invitation from the president would be a great honor to us today. The custom was to send two invitations: the first was to tell everyone that the event was being planned and the second was to tell everyone that everything was ready and about to begin. The invitation that was extended in verse 3 was the second invitation. They had already received the first invitation and had indicated that they would attend.
When the second invitation was extended, the people that had accepted the first invitation refused to attend. This was more than just being discourteous – it was considered outright rebellion. The king was patient, however, and decided to send a third invitation. The messengers received a variety of responses to this invitation. Some just neglected to come. Others said that they were too busy with their business affairs, and some went to the extent of persecuting and even killing the messengers.
The king’s patience had reached its limits, and he sent his army to destroy those that had rebelled against him. The feast was ready, however, and in order to supply it with guests, the king ordered his messengers to go out and find anyone who would come and invite them to the feast. They invited everyone, without regard to social status, moral character, race, nationality, or gender. Each guest was supplied with a wedding garment by the king, and was allowed to enter in to the feast.
Later, the king arrived on the scene, and when he entered the feast, he found a man that had refused to wear the wedding garments that had been provided by the king. When questioned about why he had refused to wear them, the man stood speechless. The king had the man removed from the celebration.
One question that we need to answer in order to understand this parable is, “Why did Jesus teach this?” If you read chapter 21, you will find that Jesus is teaching in the temple. He is cornered by the religious leaders, who demand to know by what authority he is teaching and doing all the things that he is doing. Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the leaders, saying, “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” Jesus actually tells three parables, all concerning the religious leaders’ rejection of God’s invitation.
So, the king in this parable represents God the Father, and the son is Jesus Himself. The messengers that were sent forth are the OT prophets and John the Baptist. The people who rejected the invitation were the religious leaders, and the others that were allowed to enter the feast were society’s outcasts – the tax collectors, prostitutes, gentiles, and other sinners.
I believe that there are several things that we can learn from this parable. First of all, those that go out to extend God’s invitation to His kingdom can expect a variety of responses. Some of the people in this parable simply ignored the invitation. There are many today who don’t give the needs of their soul a second thought. They either don’t believe that it is important or just avoid thinking about it. Some think that just because they don’t believe that there is a judgment and an afterlife that will keep it from being true. One day, they will find themselves standing before God Himself, wishing that they had taken the time to consider their relationship with God.
Others in the story neglected to go to the feast because they were too busy. Verse 5 states that one went to his farm, and another to his merchandise. There are a lot of people in our nation today that are just too busy to worry about their need of salvation. How many people did you pass on the way to church this morning that were on their way to work, or to the mall, or to a ballgame? When it is warmer outside, you will see people out mowing their lawns at churchtime, or out having picnics, or going to the pool. They are just too busy to think about their relationship with God. In the book of James, we are warned that our lives are like a vapor, present for a little while, but soon gone. We all need to take the time to deal with our spiritual needs today, because we are not guaranteed that we will be here to do it tomorrow.