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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 12, 2018
Invitation to a Royal Feast
Introduction – Matthew 22:1
Turn with me to Matthew 22. This morning we are going to look at the third parable that Jesus told to the Chief priests, Elders and Pharisees in response to their challenge of His authority.
It has already become painfully clear to these hypocritical religious leaders that their attempts to bring reproach upon Jesus has utterly failed. Instead, it is their wickedness that has been revealed before all. In the first parable concerning the two sons, they are the ones that lied to the Father and refused to do what he had requested. They claimed to be pious followers of God in keeping the Mosaic Law, but the truth was that they violated the law and followed their own desires in self-righteousness. They rejected the testimony of John the Baptist, and so were not entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. At the same time, the time the tax collectors and prostitutes, whom they considered unredeemable, were like the second son who defied his father then repented to carry out his father’s instructions. These sinners heeded John’s call to repentance and were entering the Kingdom of Heaven. (See: Who Does the Father’s Will)
In the parable of the landowner, the chief priests, elders and Pharisees are the wicked vine-growers who abused and killed the slaves of the landowner and then in their wicked greed thought they could gain the inheritance by murdering his son. These religious leaders were the sons of their fathers who had killed God’s prophets throughout the history of the nation, and now they were plotting and preparing to kill the Son of God. In fact, they would have arrested Jesus right then in order to kill Him except that they were cowards and feared the multitudes of people that were present because the people held Jesus to be a prophet. (See: The Longsuffering Landlord & His Son) They understood the point of the first two parables.
We now come to this third parable. Verse 1 states, “And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying . . .” The word, “answered” here could probably be better translated as “responded” to give us the proper sense of what is happening since Jesus is still responding to their challenge against His authority and not answering any question they have. Jesus continued His response to them speaking in another parable. Notice that He does not pose any question to them nor does He even invite them to “listen to another parable” as he had with the second one. Instead, He simply launches into it. Jesus is no longer holding a discussion with this particular group for they have rejected His warnings. He is now proclaiming to them the judgment that will come upon them and against the whole nation. This parable is for all the people to hear and not just for the ears of these religious leaders.
A Rejected Invitation – Matthew 22:2-6
The parable begins in verse 2. “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son.”
This parable concerns the “kingdom of heaven” which is just another name for the kingdom of God. The Jews often spoke of “heaven” rather than mention God’s name for fear they might accidently break the fourth commandment and take the name of the Lord God in vain. People would do better if they were more careful in how they speak. You do not have to curse God to take His name in vain. You take His name in vain every time you use any of His names without the reverence due Him.
The kingdom of God has various aspects to it ranging from His general rule over all creation to His special relationship with those that believe and have entrusted themselves to Him. The aspect of the kingdom of heaven being spoken of here is in its narrower sense of the spiritual community of God’s redeemed people. Most of the Jews believed the kingdom of Heaven was only for them and a few Gentile proselytes, so the people in the Temple believed that what Jesus was saying was for them.
And indeed the message of the parable was for them as well as the religious leaders. They too needed to heed the warnings that Jesus was giving rather than being smug about the way the Chief Priests, Elders and Pharisees were being reprimanded. These religious leaders were feared, but they were not liked, so the people were generally pleased to see someone, especially someone they considered a prophet, scold them. Yet the people were not really that different from them, so this parable is a warning to them too.
The first element in the parable is the setting of a king preparing a wedding feast for His son and inviting various people to attend. Even in our own day we understand that a wedding is an important event and consider it an honor to be invited to attend it. Weddings were even more important in Jewish society. Their festivities for the guests would be much beyond just a reception after the ceremony. Often there would be a week long series of meals and celebrations. It was the highlight of all social life. And the wedding of the King’s son would be of the highest importance with the various festivities being held over an even longer period of time. Splendid meals would be served as part of the most wonderful celebration possible given by the most respected person possible for the most-honored guests possible.
Verse three tells us what happened next. “And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.” It may seem a little confusing that the King sent out his slaves to call the people that had been invited until you understand that in Jewish society at that time a guest would be invited twice to such an event. The first invitation would let the guest know there was going to be a wedding and the approximate dates it would be held. This was similar to a “save the date” announcement. The second invitation would go out just prior to the wedding events that announced that the preparations had been made and it was time to come to the event. This means that these people already knew that there was going to be a wedding feast and would have had ample time to prepare themselves to attend. What we find here in this parable is something hardly imaginable. These guests were unwilling to come.
That in itself should have been enough for the king to become angry for that would have been very disrespectful to him. However, this king is very patient even with these rude people that were unwilling to heed his second invitation. The king sends them a third invitation. Verse 4, 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.”’
Now how could anyone turn down such an invitation? Not only is their going to be a magnificent feast, but it would be extremely rude to the king to refuse to come after he has made everything ready for his invited guests. The parable continues in verse 5 informing us that these people were that rude with some of them even more so. “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.”
Some just continued to ignore the king’s invitation like it was nothing and continued on their normal course of life. What a tragedy that anyone would be so preoccupied with their own every day, mundane lives that they would consciously turn down the opportunity to behold the wonderful majesty and honor of attending the wedding of the king’s son. But some were far more than selfishly indifferent, for they went so far as to abuse and kill some of the king’s slaves.
They should have been fearful about offending the king, but instead, they were so self absorbed that they were offended by the king’s persistence and bothering them with another invitation. In cruel insolence they seized the king’s slaves, mistreating some and killing others. Their contempt for the king’s slaves certainly demonstrates a great contempt for the king himself.
God had been unbelievably kind to the nation of Israel. Over and over again, He sent His prophets to proclaim to them God’s mercy and willingness to forgive and bring blessing upon those who would turn back to Him. Even the image of an invitation to a feast with God was embedded in their culture since several of the sacrifices were to be eaten by the family of the person who offered it. And yet over and over again the prophets of God were ignored, beaten and even murdered.
A Revengeful King – Matthew 22:7
This king has had an amazing amount of patience, but that patience now comes to an end. Verse 7, But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire. This is a reaction that any of us can understand. The indifference and rudeness were bad enough, but the abuse and murder of the king’s slaves was a rebellious challenge to the king’s honor and authority. The king’s patience has been stretched beyond the breaking point and he must act to bring justice upon them.
God is very long-suffering, but there comes a time when He puts an end to His patience and brings about judgment. That came about for the nation of Israel in A.D. 70 when Roman General Titus, son of the Emperor, conquered Jerusalem, slaughtered over a million Jews that had sought refuge there, and then burned the city. Historian Flavius Josephus, who witnessed the destruction of the city, described it as follows in these excerpts from Wars of the Jews: Chapters 4 & 5 [6:250- 369] (New Updated Edition)
. . . as for that house [the Temple], God had for certain long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month Lous [Ab], upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon . . . one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house, on the north side of it. (253) As the flames went upward the Jews made a clamor, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered anything to restrain their force, since that holy house was perishing, for whose sake it was that they kept such a guard about it .. .
Titus supposing what the fact was, that the house itself might yet be saved, (262) he came in haste and endeavored to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire . . . (263) yet were their passions too hard for the regards they had for Caesar, and the dread they had of him who forbade them, as was their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them, too hard for them also. (264) Moreover, the hope of plunder induced many to go on . . . and thus the holy house burnt down, without Caesar’s approbation
(271) While the holy house was on fire, everything was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught were slain; nor was there a commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity; but children and old men, and profane persons, and priests, were all slain in the same manner; so that this war went round all sorts of men, and brought them to destruction, and as well those that made supplication for their lives as those that defended themselves by fighting . . . for one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething hot, as full of fire on every part of it, that the blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number than those that slew them; (276) for the ground did nowhere appear visible, for the dead bodies that lay on it; but the soldiers went over heaps of these bodies, as they ran upon such as fled from them . . . (369) Nor was there any place in the city that had no dead bodies in it, but what was entirely covered with those that were killed either by the famine or the rebellion; and all was full of the dead bodies of such as had perished, either by that sedition or by that famine.
. . . Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne, and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. (Book 7; Chapter 1.1).
Jesus warned them about what God would do because of their continual rejection of His invitation and their abuse and murdering of His prophets. God brought that destruction to Jerusalem in A.D. 70 through the Roman Army under Titus. Yet God is still gracious, for we find that even though the ones He originally invited ignored the invitation, God has now extended that invitation to all.
An Invitation to All – Matthew 22:8-10
8 Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding feast 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.” And 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.
The invitation was turned down by those first requested to come. They had proved themselves unworthy of the honor bestowed upon them, so the invitation went out to all regardless of who they were. Those who were moral and those who were immoral, the good and the evil came and filled the hall.
The Great Commission given to the church by Jesus is to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” or as Mark puts it, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” God’s message of hope of forgiveness and reconciliation through trust in Him is now directed to be proclaimed to the whole world regardless of the current state of the individual. Both the “good” and the “evil” in the parable are unworthy of coming to the King’s table, yet they are invited due to the King’s gracious generosity. The same is true of the gospel of salvation. No one gets into heaven because they are worthy of it or somehow qualify themselves. Entrance into God’s kingdom is only granted because the Lord is merciful and gracious. The Scriptures make this clear in many places.
While people may be “good” in relative comparison to each other, no one is “good” in God’s eyes. Romans 3:10-12 quotes Psalm14 stating, “There is none righteous, no even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” And as for the evil, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 makes it very clear that none can make it to heaven on their own. “Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” The self-righteous might feel good about themselves when examining this list boasting they have avoided all these sins, much like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19, but it condemns everyone. The humble recognize that you do not have to rob a bank to be a thief, and covetousness, the desire for what other people have, is the normal condition of the human heart. Jesus consistently taught that sin arose from out of the heart (Matthew 15:19). A specific example of that is Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount that “everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Praise the Lord the passage continues on to proclaim God’s grace in verse 11, “And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of God.”
What enables a person to enter into the kingdom of God today is the same as it was back then. Personal faith in God’s grace and mercy to provide the price Himself. Just as God provided the lamb of sacrifice for Abraham, He has provided the sacrifice for sin for all in Christ Jesus. The dinner guests were seated because the King provided the invitation and paid the price for the meal. We can only enter into God’s banquet hall in heaven if we come the same way. He pays the price and gives us an invitation, and He has done both, but have you accepted the invitation?
God is indiscriminate about who He invites, but lest anyone think that God is indifferent to what His guests will be like when they arrive, Jesus concludes the parable with an important point about a rejected guest.
A Rejected Guest – Matthew 22:11-14
11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Having an invitation is not enough. You have to respond to the invitation by coming, and you have to be properly attired if you want to attend this wedding feast. There is no doubt that the slaves of the king found some among the general population that also ignored the king’s invitation just like those first invited. Certainly we see that in the universal invitation of the gospel. It is to be preached “to all creation,” and the invitation is to “whosoever,” but the vast majority will not respond to the invitation for a wide variety of reasons.
Many are wrapped up in their own little mundane lives, going to work to earn money so that they can spend money so that they can live, so that they can go to work to earn money so that they can spend money so that they can live, so that they can go to work to earn money so that they can spend money so that they can live so that . . . you get the point. Their lives are wrapped up in the moment by moment of what is around them and they never see the eternal perspective or figure out the purpose of their existence.
Others are too busy trying to earn God’s favor to ever accept His gift of grace by faith. Why should they humble themselves to receive what costs them nothing if can keep their pride by earning it? There are two major problems with that. First, you cannot earn God’s favor for as Isaiah 64:6 states, all your righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. Second, God extends His grace to the humble and resists the proud, and salvation is by His grace. Most people remain proud and reject God’s invitation to eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Some have balked at the ending of this parable saying that God is not fair to require wedding clothes from someone picked up off the street. Others say that it sounds too much like works righteousness to require a particular attire to attend the wedding feast. Both objections are answered by simply understanding that while kings often required their subjects to be dressed in a certain way if they were to see him, the king himself provided the attire! God is not unfair, He is perfectly just for though man cannot provide for himself what God requires, God provides it for man. God will cloth the repentant sinner who places their faith in Jesus with His righteousness. As the title of a gospel song phrased it, His robes for mine. Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The king in this parable was more than generous to his guests. He not only invited them to enjoy the feast he was providing, but he provided for their attire as well so that they would be properly dressed for the wedding. What a tragedy. This man was silent before the king because there was no excuse that he could give. A wedding garment was available to him, but he did not put it on. How else can it be explained that all the other guests had on the proper wedding clothes and this man did not and could give no excuse? Now he is being held to account for himself. Since the man would not take advantage of what the king had provided for him, he was bound hand and foot and thrown out of the wedding hall. He could not come back in. And there he lay in the darkness weeping and gnashing his teeth while the rest of the guest enjoyed the festivities in the lighted hall. Weeping is the sign of sorrow. Gnashing of teeth is a sign of an emotion such as anger or pain and suffering.
A Lesson for Us – Matthew 22:14
There is a lesson here for us for there is a wedding feast coming that God would be more than pleased to have you attend. It is the marriage supper of the lamb of God which takes place prior to Jesus return to conquer the earth at the end of the Tribulation period. We are told about it in Revelation 19:7-9.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. 8 And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 And he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”
If you want to be there, you have to be invited, but we already know that the invitation has been sent out to all. That is the gospel call. The invitation is given to you, but you have to respond to it, and that requires humility, repentance from your sin, and coming with faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ to receive the forgiveness of your sins and adoption into God’s family. This is an exclusive faith because no man comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). And if you don’t want to get thrown out, you have to have on the proper attire, and the only attire acceptable is perfect righteousness. That is not something you can produce for yourself, but it is given freely as a gift from God when He imputes to you the righteousness of Jesus as stated in Romans 3:22 and Philippians 3:9. Notice that at the marriage supper of the Lamb, the bride is given her garment.
If you try to come to God in any other way, your end will be the same as the man in the parable. You will be cast out into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth over the tragedy of the consequences of such foolishness.
Jesus ends the parable saying, “Many are called, few are chosen.” The perfect balance between God’s sovereignty and man’s will. God has given a universal call to repentance and salvation in the gospel, but only the chosen will accept and respond to the invitation. Most people do not really want God, and many that say they do only want Him on their own terms. Only those who will accept His gracious provision in Jesus Christ will be saved and enter God’s kingdom. It is God’s sovereign intervention that causes that to happen. Those who remain outside the kingdom do so because of their rejection of God’s gracious plan of redemption. They have rejected His invitation or thought they could come in their own righteousness.
I am looking forward to that future banquet in heaven. I hope you are too so that we might enjoy together what the angel said would be a great blessing. If you don’t know if you will be there, then you need to see me or any of our church leaders today. Don’t leave without being able to stand firmly on the promises of Jesus Christ who gives eternal life to all that believe in Him.
Sermon Notes – 8/12/2018
Invitation to a Royal Feast – Matthew 22:1-14
The religious leaders have ______________ in their attempt to bring reproach on Jesus
Jesus’ first parable exposes their ______________in claiming to be pious while disobeying God
Jesus’ second parable exposes their intention to _____________ Him
Jesus gives a third parable as a ______________ to them and to all the people present
A Rejected Invitation – Matthew 22:2-6
“The kingdom of heaven” = “the kingdom of ________ ”
The kingdom has many aspects to it, in this context it is the ________community of God’s redeemed people
The king prepares a wedding feast for his son – a celebration given by the king for __________guests
The first invitation announced the wedding, and this second invitation _________them to now come enjoy it
The king responds patiently with a _________ invitation to these rude people
Their responses were __________ ranging from continued indifference to murder of the messengers
God had ___________sent prophet after prophet to Israel, yet they were ignored, beaten and even murdered
A Revengeful King – Matthew 22:7
The king’s patience finally came to an ________- and so did God’s
Roman General ____________destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70
Flavius ________________, Wars of the Jews: Chapters 4 & 5 [6:250- 369] (New Updated Edition)
Jesus ____________them about what was to come due to their continued rejection of God’s son
An Invitation to All – Matthew 22:8-10
The king now __________his invitation to include both the evil and the good
The Great Commission parallels the parable – for the gospel is proclaimed to ___- both the evil and the good
“Good” is a relative term, but ____________meets God’s standard of good – Romans 3:10-12, 1 Cor. 6:9-10
God’s grace extends to ______________to wash, sanctify and justify them – 1 Cor. 6:11
God makes all the provisions and gives the invitation, but invitation must be _____________
A Rejected Guest – Matthew 22:11-14
To attend the wedding feast, you must respond to the invitation and come to it and be _____________attired
The universal invitation of the gospel is ____________by most people for many reasons
Some are wrapped up in daily life and never see the eternal perspective or ___________of their existence
Others insist on ____________ God’s favor and will not accept His gift of grace by faith
Rejection because of not having the proper clothing seems unfair – until you learn the king ________that too
God provides _______________needed for man’s salvation including imputed righteousness – 2 Cor. 5:21
The man was silent because he had _____________- the same will be true of the sinner when judged by God
Weeping signifies sorrow, and gnashing of teeth emotions of ___________, pain or suffering
A Lesson for Us – Matthew 22:14
Revelation 19:7-9 – The marriage feast of the ____________
It takes ________to respond to the gospel: repent of sin and believe in the person, work & promises of Jesus
Without the imputed __________________ of Christ (Rom. 3:22; Phil. 3:9), you will be cast out
Many are called, few are chosen is the ______________between God’s sovereignty and man’s will
Those who remain outside of God’s kingdom only have themselves to ___________
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “invitation” is used. 2) Discuss with your parents the invitation of the Gospel and what is necessary to accept it.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. This is the third parable Jesus gives in a row. What was the meaning of the first two (Matthew 21)? What is meant by the term “kingdom of heaven”? What aspect of that kingdom is being referred to in this parable? To whom is Jesus telling the parable? Describe a typical wedding feast of that time period. How might one put on by a king be more extravagant? Why would there typically be two invitations to a wedding feast? How does this king show patience by sending out a third? What is the parallel of this in God’s sending of the prophets? Why did the king destroy the invited guests who refused to come? How is the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 a parallel to this? Describe that destruction of Jerusalem. Why does the king expand his invitation to the “highways” and to the “evil and good”? What is the parallel between that and the Great Commission to preach the gospel to all creation? Does anyone meet God’s standard of “good”? Explain. How is a person justified and made righteous before God? We did the man without the proper attire remain speechless when discovered? Was if fair for the king to cast this man out? Explain. What are some of the common reason people reject God’s invitation in the gospel? If you have not yet accepted the gospel invitation, what is your reason for rejecting it? Are any of those reasons actually valid? Explain. Is it fair of God to cast out those who are not righteous? Explain. What will the marriage supper of the Lamb be like (Revelation 19:7-9)? Will you be there? Why or why not? If not, what needs to change? How is Jesus’ phrase, “Many are called, few are chosen,” the perfect balance between God’s sovereignty and man’s will. God has given a universal call to repentance and salvation in the gospel
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