Alright the kingdom parables. Here we go. Lesson number three, “The Parable of
the Wedding Feast” and that’s in Matthew Chapter 22. I would advise you if
you have your Bibles open up there because we’ll be reading out of that. So let’s start with a brief review
of what we have covered so far in our study of the kingdom parables. First of all the main topic of Jesus’s preaching was the kingdom, the coming of the
kingdom, the nature of the kingdom, and how to enter into the kingdom, all
of these that He explained when he talked about the kingdom. Secondly, throughout the Old Testament and New Testament the image of the kingdom developed until Jesus provided a full description of the
kingdom as a dimension that existed now in human terms, but would eventually be transformed into its complete and
final version at the end of the world. Number three, His parables. Remember we said the word
parable means to lay alongside. So He laid down simple ideas, simple stories things that you could see and understand, in order to highlight or explain things that were unseen and more complex. So His parables about the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven were given to help us
understand the difference between the state of the kingdom now, which
is the church here on Earth, and the state of the kingdom in the
future when Jesus will return and all things will be fulfilled. Number four, the parables also explain what
kingdom life is like now. How things work in the kingdom and how
to be prepared for the eventual transformation of the kingdom
which will see the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the
church, the angels, and the spiritual world, all completely integrated
together forever. One other point. In the New Testament Jesus, I mentioned this before,
spoke 43 parables and of these 13 were kingdom parables and of these 13, He used various imagery, various examples; five agricultural examples, four examples concerning money, two had
situations involving feasts, one was a fishing story, one was a story
using food and the parable of the leaven. So we’ve done those two, the fishing,
the dragnet and the leaven we’ve done those two. So tonight we’re going to we’re
going to look at one of the parables using feasts, the parable of the
wedding feast Matthew 22. So let’s first of all, read the parable
itself beginning in verse two. It says, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to
a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again He sent out other slaves
saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold I have prepared my dinner; my
oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to
the wedding feast. “‘ “But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his
own farm another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated
them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed
those murderers and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is
ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main
highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ Those slaves
went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good;
and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. But when the king came in
to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in
wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding
clothes? And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him
hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will
be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” Of course there is the story itself,
which we’ve just read, and then there’s the true meaning or the story behind the story.
So let’s start with the story shall we? That a king would invite guests to a
wedding feast for his son, and that the invited guests would refuse to
come for such lame excuses, is almost unbelievable. So right away those
who were listening to Jesus are thinking, wow, this is really really strange. Imagine
refusing an invitation to the White House for dinner because you have to have the
oil on your car changed. It’s about the type of excuses that that they were handing out. That the guests would actually mistreat and kill the king’s messengers, I mean. it’s beyond belief. It says they didn’t respect the king.
They weren’t afraid of him or even love him. And of course they were very foolish.
Now, that the king would send his army to destroy these
people is justified under the circumstances, no one would argue with this. As far as the story
is concerned. little The story does get a strange when the king invites the
common people to fill the place of the invited guests. I mean for those
listening to this parable in the first century, it would have been strange for anyone to treat the king the way the people of the story treated the king.
It would even be stranger for a king to then invite common
people to his table. Because kings did not do that
in those days. They stayed away from the common people and they
stayed away from the slaves as much as possible. They put a lot of layers
between them, themselves and the poor and the poor people. Now the
story has even a kind of a surprise and troubling ending as
the king ejects one of the guests from the feast because of improper attire. The wedding garment or the wedding
clothes, this was a good set of clothing provided by the host, to his special guests, in order to spare them the
expense of purchasing a new set of clothing for that particular occasion. This was common in those times. Today we go to the mall. We go to a
store. We can buy anything. I mean there’s any number of places you can buy
clothing, inexpensive clothing. It’s easy to find you don’t even have to go to a store you
go on line and you see something you have it delivered to your house. But in those days clothing, especially
good clothing, was expensive and very hard to come by especially
for common people. Royal weddings were often made even more
opulent and grand when the king himself provided new clothing to
all of his guests, as well as the food, as well as the drink. In this case, the poor common people were invited and so it was
natural for the king to provide them with the proper garments to sit at the
royal table. It wouldn’t do for them to sit at the royal table in their
common clothing. This wasn’t a soup kitchen. They were being invited to the
king’s palace. All right. So the story tells us that when the king
entered to examine the feast for his son one person had neglected to put on the
garment that was provided for him. Now the original guests insulted him by
not responding to his invitation. Now this guest insults him by wearing
his old clothes or his own clothing rather than the special garment that was
provided by the king. And so the story ends with the just punishment of
the one who was in the feast but whose heart and spirit was not right
for the feast. So that’s the story, pretty straight forward. A little unusual but not too difficult to understand, to know
what’s going on. All right so now the story behind the story.
We said that parables are stories that mirror unseen realities. In this parable, the unseen reality is God’s relationship with the Jews. That’s the unseen reality here. OK. Just
before this parable was spoken, Jesus had made his
triumphant entry into Jerusalem but had not been welcomed by any of
the Jewish leaders. As a matter of fact, the next day he was
confronted and rejected by them. So all the people are following him in, praising him the king of the Jews, he’s on the donkey and he goes into the temple area and the people are rejoicing, the
children are rejoicing, but the leaders no, no, no, no, no. The leaders, the Pharisees, the
priests, the scribes, the leaders, they had nothing to say to him.
They didn’t even welcome him. And then, as I mentioned, the very next day
they challenged him, how dare you do this. What authority do you have? So this parable is largely in response to their, and by
extension, the Jewish nations eventual total rejection of him and the Gospel. So that’s the story behind the story. That’s the
thing that’s not seen, that you need to understand, if you’re going to make some
sense out of this parable. So this is the key. Remember, Jesus as the
Messiah, that’s always the key. We can lay this parable alongside
Israel’s rejection of Jesus and see what God says about the Kingdom.
What does he say about the Kingdom in this context? So number one, he
says the experience of the kingdom of heaven is like a feast with the king. It will be a joyful experience with God. Because, remember, he said that the kingdom is like, and then he tells the story of this wedding feast.
So you’re trying to think how does that fit? And so he’s saying the experience of the
kingdom is supposed to be and will be a happy event. Secondly, God invited the Jews to be part of this experience but they repeatedly
rejected the messengers who invited them. Who were the messengers?
Well the prophets. And ultimately, they killed some of them. In most recent memory that would have been John the Baptist. He came and said, “the Kingdom is coming, prepare yourselves”. People
were being baptized and getting ready for the coming of the Kingdom. What did the
Jewish leaders do? They killed him. Thirdly, the rejection of the son is the rejection of Christ which in real life
was carried out. How? Well by crucifying Him. Because remember, it said a King was having a feast
for who? His son. Next comparison. God sends his army. It says the king here
sends his army, in the story. Well in real life God does send his army,
doesn’t he? He sends the Roman army to destroy the Jews when? In 70 A.D.. They come in, they lay siege to the city for a
long time. Eventually they break in. They kill everybody. They destroy the
city, they tear down the temple, they drag people away. Interesting thing about this parable that
doesn’t happen in a lot of parables, this parable goes back and forth in time. It’s talking about what has just happened, the rejection of Jesus when he came and so the story
reflects that. But then the parable goes forward and talks about what’s
going to happen in the future. Because when this happened it was maybe 40 odd
years, they were in the year 30 if you wish, 30, 32, 33. So in about 40 years from this time the
Romans would come in and destroy Jerusalem. So it’s interesting that in
a parable, is embedded a prophecy. Just an interesting point there. So what happens in the story? The king now invites
the common people. Who would be the common people? The Gentiles.
So the king now invites the common people,
the Gentiles to come to the feast. To come where? The feast is going to be in heaven. Now the gospel, the invitation
to come into the kingdom, is now open to the the Gentiles. And who are the messengers? Well the Apostles.
And everyone is welcome. Remember, here it said the evil and the good.
Everyone is welcome. All could come to the feast. By the way, if you’re driving up 23rd Street, I
don’t know if you’ve seen it yet, between Henny and Hiwassee, what
would that be, the South Side, we have a billboard up there.
Yeah, we have a billboard up there. And what does it say?
It says, “SINNERS are welcome at the Choctaw Church of Christ”. Same
thing as this parable. The evil and the good, everyone is invited to,
everyone is invited to come in. Next part of the story the king
provides the wedding garment. Well what is the wedding garment? Well, the
garment is the righteousness of Christ, obtained through faith, expressed
in repentance and baptism, Galatians chapter 3 verse 26 and 27.
All those who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There’s the garment. And notice that the king provides the garments
for his guests. In the same way, God gives righteousness.
Man doesn’t have to provide his own righteousness. God gives us the righteousness.
He puts it on us. He puts it on us. the word I was
looking for, he “imputes”. There’s the word.
He imputes righteousness upon us. He surrounds us with forgiveness.
All we have to do is put on the garment through faith,
as I say, expressed initially through repentance and baptism.
Another part of the story, One guest enters in, but on his own terms,
doesn’t have the robe. Some want to be followers of Christ on their own
terms without following or obeying the gospel. Remember the previous parable that we
talked about, the dragnet? What did they do? The fish that were in the net, they were in the kingdom
right? That represented the people in the kingdom. And then what did the fisherman do? They went through
and they kept the good and they threw away the bad. Remember I said to you, that was showing that
there is going to be a reckoning for those within the kingdom. Those outside of the
kingdom, they’re condemned. They’re done. OK? Just a matter of time. Those within the
kingdom, the parables teach us that there will come a time of reckoning when God,
through the angels, will separate those who belong from those who don’t belong. Well this is a kind of a sideways reference to the very same thing. Somebody is there.
He’s been invited. He’s sitting with everybody else except he
doesn’t have the garment on. Now that could mean a lot of things. He
is pretending he’s righteous, he didn’t obey the gospel, but he… How many people come to church? I’ve known people who come to church for 20 years, who haven’t obeyed the Gospel. There was one such a man in Canada
that I knew. 20 years he came, at least 20 years, he’d come Wednesday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night, come with his wife she was a member. And after a while people got so used to him. They asked him if
he’d sit in with the men’s meeting, to make decisions, because they’d
forgotten that this person had never obeyed the gospel. And every preacher, this congregation, a small congregation, maybe 100 people, they had different ministers would come in, guy would come in five, six, seven years and then move on to another place and they’d get another minister. Every new minister would go in there boy… The first guy they would
try to get is this guy sit down and study the Bible, try to get this
boy in the water. Nothing. And the thing that was maddening is
that he was like a better Christian than a lot of the people who had confessed Christ, who had been baptized. He was a righteous man. He gave liberally, he did everything
except one thing. He did not obey the gospel. I’m happy to
say it finally happened. I wasn’t there at the time. I never preached at that
church, I wasn’t in Canada at that time. But I met him at a convention or something and
he came up to me. Proud, he said guess what? I don’t know.
You got a new job? No, he said, I obeyed the
gospel! Oh so happy! And it wasn’t through a big long Bible study. He just
realized that the problem wasn’t the preacher. The problem was him. He says, I just realized I was being pigheaded for no
reason at all. Just being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn. And it dawned
on me why would I do this and throw… I believe! His point was, I believe, I want to go to heaven. And then it dawned on me,
why would I throw that chance away just for being stiff necked? And so
he happily confessed Christ was immersed and continued on what he
had always been, a faithful man. So he’s a good example of somebody just sitting there. Just because you’re in the pew, doesn’t mean you’re in the body.
And this example here points to that thing. Another thing, God will judge all
those in the church and remove those who are there under false pretenses.
And I’m just mentioning again about the one who was there without the robe.
One other thing. His final word, many are called, few are chosen.
This has been troubling. A little difficult to explain.
OK. Always keep it in context of the parable and
what the parable is explaining. So many are called and few are
chosen. This refers to who will or will not come into the kingdom.
So let’s break it down. Many are called. Actually, all are
called right? Through the gospel of Jesus. Many are given the chance to enter in, many hear the words, many know what
they must do, but they don’t do it. They’ve been called, but they don’t answer. When we
give the statistics, brother…World Bible School. World Bible School, they say well, we’ve sent out 5,000 lessons and we got back 2,040 lessons and we baptized 167 people.
Well that means that, many were called, Five thousand. But how many answered the call? One hundred
and sixty seven. And we shouldn’t be discouraged about that.
Jesus tells us, the road is wide that leads to
destruction but the road is very narrow, that leads to life. Christians are never in the majority. So for those who do answer,
they become the chosen. The words “called” and “chosen” are
both adjectives in the Greek. They modify and describe nouns in the
same way that they do in English. For example, the called, well, there are many. There are lots of them, the called.
The chosen, well then there’s a few of those because not many answer the call. So if you answer the call, in other words, you come to
the feast you put on the robe, you believe in Jesus, you put
him on in baptism right? Then you become the chosen. You are considered one of the chosen ones of God. If you don’t answer the call, in other words,
you don’t come to the feast. You sneak in without the proper cover.
You become the many. Many who are on the road to destruction.
Many are lost. So one of the reasons why this verse has been mangled for many years, Calvinists Calvinists have often used this
verse as a proof text for their version of the doctrine of election. Calvin said, man doesn’t have the ability
to choose right from wrong. Doesn’t have the spiritual insight
to respond to God’s offer of forgiveness. He is too bad, too
morally blind, too depraved. That was the thinking of the Calvinists, classical Calvinist. They’ve changed somewhat over the
years. But originally this was the idea. Calvin said that God simply, because
man was so depraved, couldn’t really choose, so God simply chose some to be saved and others to be damned. And if
you had a problem with this then it’s because you’re so blinded by sin that you don’t even see what God is trying to do. It was like a circular reasoning. This verse, in their thinking, proves what they say. Many
are called, few are chosen. Another words, many are called by
God, but God only chooses a few for salvation, just like these common people
were chosen to come to the feast. Man has no power, if you wish, to change his destiny. OK? Now the Bible does teach the doctrine of election, but not the way
that Calvin taught it. The Bible says, although man
has been weakened by a sinful nature, in other words, the
effect of sin in his life, man still has the ability to
exercise his free will. It’s just that he doesn’t always
make the right choices. But man can and still does choose to believe and obey God’s
directives and obey the gospel. All right, so the answer to Calvinism is not
that man is unable to make a choice, it’s just that he doesn’t
always choose what is right. But he does, at times, choose what
is right. I mean Abraham, did he not choose to follow God to Canaan. Moses reluctantly chose to go back to Egypt didn’t
he? He didn’t like it. He was scared. But he went. Joshua, what did
Joshua say to the people? Choose this day who you will serve. Right? One of the thieves chose to believe. The
other one didn’t, but he did. Demas chose to leave Paul and the work. Every presentation of the Gospel, in
the New Testament, challenges people to decide to obey or not to obey.
Some do and some don’t. Some fall away and come back. Some
fall away and choose to remain unfaithful. When we read about Pentecost
Sunday and we all say, Wow, 3000 people came forward or came to be baptized that
day. That’s great. But 3000 out of how many? There may have been a hundred thousand people there. There were huge crowds in
Jerusalem during the time of feast, so this was
Pentecost. So it’s not 3,000 out of 4,000, it’s 3,000 out
of 500,000 or 200,000. Right? So God also makes a choice.
It’s not that God doesn’t choose. God also chooses but he doesn’t choose which
person will be saved or which person will be lost. God makes one choice regarding salvation. He chooses who will save man. And in this regard he chose Jesus Christ. In
First Peter chapter 2 verse 4, It says, “And coming to Him as to a
living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice
and precious in the sight of God”. Chosen by God, here is a
prophecy, Peter is talking about a prophecy here, made about the coming of
of Christ. The idea that God chose Jesus and sent him
to be the one to save mankind. And then in Luke Chapter 23, I believe, Luke writes, “And the
people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him,
saying, “He saved others; let him save Himself if this is the Christ
of God, His Chosen One.” So the Jews, I mean the ones, even the priests and the rabbis, they understood that God
would be the one to choose who the Messiah would be. They understood that, they believed that, they
just didn’t believe that God had chosen this person, Jesus Christ. So Christ excuse me, so God does
make a choice, not whose saved whose lost. He chooses the one who will
accomplish salvation, Jesus Christ. Christ also chooses.
Christ only makes one choice concerning salvation, to accept
the cup of suffering, which he does in the garden by saying,
not as I will but as thou wilt. So he makes one choice.
And that is, he accepts the cup of suffering, he accepts to go to
the to the cross. He doesn’t choose who gets saved who doesn’t get saved. You know who he chooses? He chooses, He
gives opportunities to different individuals to follow him or to serve in some way or not. You want to follow me? Be an apostle? But the people that he chose, offered opportunities to serve, they could have said no, I don’t want to be an apostle. You know what comes to mind?
The rich young ruler. What did Jesus say to him? Go sell all that
you have or give away everything that you have. Come follow me. What was that? That was an invitation to follow him.
He could have been an apostle. But he chose not to.
And then he comes to us. We make only one choice concerning
salvation, to believe and obey Jesus or to reject him.
The same choice that the Jews and the Gentiles had in the first century, nothing has
changed. So when we choose Christ then we become the chosen of God.
This is how that happens. Many are called by the Gospel
but not many respond to it. Only a few become the chosen ones. So what have we learned from this parable concerning the kingdom? Well first of all at its ultimate state, the kingdom will be a glorious, royal, enjoyable, happy experience like a wedding feast. This helps us to understand and be patient. When at the
present time, the kingdom in its present form has flaws. It requires
effort. It’s pressed from many sides. People get the wrong idea. We say well, the church is the kingdom on Earth. But sometimes
they think, Heaven will be the church transported to heaven the way it is.
No, I don’t want that. I don’t want that to happen. John has just too much work
to do. You know what I’m saying? No no no. The church represents the Kingdom here on Earth, but it will be glorified. All the things we yearn to be, when they say
I want to be a better woman, I want to be a better man, I want to be like Christ,
but somehow I got a long way to go. Well that will finally be fulfilled when we get to Heaven. Number two idea, there will be a joining or an integration that will take place like that at a wedding. Of course the kingdom of heaven on earth will be perfected and glorified by the Holy Spirit.
And then it will be joined to Christ and the kingdom as it exists in Heaven. So the kingdom of heaven exists in Heaven.
And the kingdom of God on Earth exists as the church.
The point is at the end these two will merge to create one unit. And the idea of a wedding feast is there to give us an idea that there will be a joining. All right? Number three. All are welcome to
enter in, many are called. Some received a special invitation, the Jews. Some were called in a general way, through the gospel, but everyone has been invited to the very same feast, the same
kingdom is open for everybody. Number four. You must be dressed for the occasion. Now, God provides the covering
for us, which is Christ. But we must put on the garment if we
wish to remain. God offers salvation through grace. In other words,
forgiveness is free, we can’t buy it. We can’t make it, we can’t earn it.
However, we must receive it and the Bible tells us that the way to
receive it is to respond to Jesus Christ, again, by believing in him,
confessing his name, repenting of our sins and being immersed in water.
This is how you put on the wedding garment.
Galatians chapter 3 verses, excuse me, 26 and 7, it says, “For you
are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have
clothed yourselves with Christ. OK? And then number five. Those who refuse the
invitation, those who do not accept the invitation in the
proper way, will simply not be part of the feast,
because this is the only feast. This is the only feast in town. There is no other feast, only one feast.
There is and will be only one kingdom. Now there are two, one in heaven, one
here. At the end they will be joined together, and forever be in that way. Now there might be some other lessons, a couple of other ideas that we may be searching for in this particular parable, but I think
we’ve covered the main idea, the main ideas that the Lord was
trying to get across here using this particular parable.
OK, that’s it for this time. We will continue next time working our way through
all these Kingdom parables. Thank you for your attention.