The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Wedding Banquet
Matthew 22:1-14 (Pastor Heo)
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
22:2-14Ref — Lk 14:16-24
1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 “But they paid no attention and went off–one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
I hope and bless that we are not only invited but also chosen.
The KOH is in you and you are in the KOH – this is not an empty cliche. This is a wedding banquet – do you like this? This will be so much better than any wedding banquet in this world.
In the KOH, every day, every moment is like a wedding banquet. Rev 17:18-19? “Let us rejoice and give thanks for the wedding of the Lamb – the wedding supper of the Lamb.”
In this passage, there are TWO parables.
- v. 1-10
- v. 11-14
We can understand their meaning more easily and fully if we look at them separately. The first events are completely in accordance with normal Jewish customs:
When invitations to a feast were sent out, the time was not stated. Only when EVERYTHING was prepared, the servants were sent out again for a final summons. So, in this parable, the king sent his invitation a LONG time ago, but it is not until everything is ready that the final summons was sent out – and finally, the people refused.
In this first parable, we have TWO stories.
- Local (Jews) v. 1-10
- Global (Gentiles included)
This local meaning is an accusation of the Jews. The invited guests who when the time came, refused to come, stands for the Jews. LONG ago, Israel was invited by God to be his “Chosen People” but when Christ came into the world and they were invited to follow him, they refused contemptuously.
God is also inviting the people to come to his wedding banquet in Acts. After the resurrection and ascension of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit, this invitation to the KOH is going out on to the Jews (until chapter 7). But the national leaders of Israel rejected this invitation AGAIN and persecuted the church. The rejected this first when they refused to listen to John the Baptist, then rejected it again when they arrested and crucified Jesus, then the same men captured and killed Stephen in Acts 7.
Then God sent other workers in his great patience. The Holy Spirit came upon the early believers and witnessed that Jesus is alive and performed great miracles – proofs that God was at work in and through them. But, they refused the invitation numerous times. Then, with the stoning of Stephen, God’s patience with Israel began to end – even though he delayed the final judgment for almost 40 years more (destruction of the temple).
v. 7 “The king was enraged…” (super angry)
These servants of the king were literally killed by the people (James, Peter, Stephen, etc). And the temple in Jerusalem was literally destroyed in AD 70 – this is the picture of the king in the story burning the city.
Then, God sent his servants out into the streets to get the sinners and the Gentiles (including you and me). This is the LOCAL meaning of this first parable.
What is the universal meaning?
We can see 3 points here:
#1: this invitation of God to the KOH is a feast – an invitation to joy, not to sadness or burden
The Bible says continually, “Be joyous all the time, give thanks in all circumstances” God desires us to be joyful, not sorrowful. “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, Rejoice!” – If we reject this invitation of God to his kingdom, we miss JOY. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest – and my joy will be complete in you.” If we reject this invitation, we lose real, endless JOY. Yes, everybody wants joy, but only true joy is in the KOH.
#2: v. 5 – very meaningful even to us today
“But they paid no attention and went off — one to his field, another to his business.”
They did not go out for immoral adventure or wild carousal. They refused simply for their daily lifestyles. They just wanted to efficiently manage their business lives. Yes, this is not bad, not wicked, sometimes very necessary. But because of this “business” they rejected the KOH.
Remember, if DOING some thing prevents us from coming to the house of God, that thing is wicked, evil in the eyes of God.
How about church? Yes, we may miss church, not for the purpose of sinning, but for the purpose of looking religious. We must be careful because there may be danger, challenge, temptation. It is a matter of what is MORE important in our personal lives.
Please, do not lose the things of eternity to get the things of time. Do not follow the things of temporary and miss the things of eternity.
Col “Since then you have been raised with Jesus Christ, set your hearts on things above… not on earthly things.” Please, do not lose LIFE itself by being too busy with administration, management, govenment of life itself. Do not refuse the KOH to remain on this earth.
#3: This invitation is the invitation of GRACE
Grace is a free gift (v. 8-10)
Are you in the KOH really? Remember if we are really in the KOH already, then regular and faithful participation in Sunday worship is only the STARTING point, not the ending point.
Realize that this invitation is the invitation of grace – people are invited from the highways and byways had no claim on the king – never expected this invitation, and never deserved it. It came to them from nothing other than the generous hospitality of the king. It is the grace that gathers ALL in.
How about our story? Yes, now and here, we are what we are, where we are, by the grace of God – predestined, called, invited, chosen, elected, saved, blessed, justified, sanctified, glorified by the grace of God. The door is open – not only to good men, also to bad men.
The Christian church is (obviously) multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-colored, multi-ethnic, multi-aged. No nation, nor personality type has a lock on the KOH. Yet, at the same time, we are ONE. Eph 4. We are unity in variety, and variety in unity.
v. 11-14 Second parable
This parable is a very close continuation and amplification of the first parable.
This is the story of one guest who appeared at the ROYAL wedding feast without wearing wedding clothes. This is just common sense – it is unthinkable to go to a wedding ceremony in dirty clothes. If I do this, I insult/despise the bridegroom and bride as hosts.
- Local meaning
- Universal meaning
1. Local meaning = the king sent the servants out to gather ALL men in. This story told how sinners and Gentiles would be gathered in. The door is opened very widely.
Yes, in this church, the two doors are opened widely – not only to good men, but also to sinners.
But this parable strikes a necessary balance. When we come IN, we must bring LIFE – the life given to them. The door is WIDELY open, yes, but NOT open for sinners to come in and REMAIN a sinner without change. The door is open for sinners to come in and BECOME a saint.
We must become clothed in NEW goodness, new holiness.
2: Global meaning
The WAY in which we come to anything demonstrates the spirit in which we come.
For example, if we go as a guest to a friend’s house, we don’t go in pyjamas (pajamas). It is simply a matter of respect to present ourselves to the friend’s house as neatly as possible. This is the way we outwardly show our respect, esteem, love for our friend.
So it is with the KOH and church. Yes, we know this has nothing to do with our CLOTHES which we wear to church, but rather with the ATTITUDE we take with us to the house of God. These are the “clothes” of expectation, humility, repentance, faith, love, reverence, – the clothes of our attitude when we come to church.
To our sadness, many times we approach God WITHOUT any preparation at all.
If every Christian prepared to enter the house of God with prayer, repentance, humility, then our worship would be worship indeed.
v. 14 “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
This is very serious.
Jesus says, “When the Son of Man comes in this world, will he find faith on this earth? Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves – enter through the narrow gate. Many enter through the wide gate that leads to destruction – and only a few find the narrow gate that leads to life.”
This sentence does not mean eternal INsecurity in our salvation – rather, we have TOTAL security ONLY in what Christ has done on the cross for us. We must therefore continue to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling and thanks and worship.” Why? Because God works in you and me to act according to his good will and purpose.
May God bless us that our assurance of salvation is MORE secure on the basis of what Christ has done on the cross for us and in what he is doing in our lives now.