Feasting or Faking?
Just a brief outline today on the Matthean account of the Wedding Banquet parable in 22:1-14.
It seems to be the parable that lit the tinderbox of Jewish antagonism that would conclude in Calvary's Passion - the Q & A session (in 22:15-46 - on paying taxes, celestial relations, and the greatest commandment), in which Pharisees conspire to trap Jesus in His words, ends with Messiah turning the tables upon His interrogators: He cites a Psalm that proves, beyond doubt, the Divine-Human nature of His Mediatorial Office - when He asks them to explain it His inquisitors are speechless.
The interpretation of this parable is relatively straightforward. As James Montgomery Boice says in his generally excellent Volume 2 on Matthew:
From time to time in these studies I have acknowledged that a particular parable is difficult to interpret ...that problem does not exist with the parables in Matthew 21 and 22 ...they are all to clear - above all the parable of the banquet! It speaks of God's gracious invitation in the gospel and of the indifferent and even arrogant way men and women respond to it. It also refers to hell as the end of those who presume to enter God's presence without the wedding garment of Christ's righteousness. J.M.B., The Gospel of Matthew: Volume 2, 465-466.
So here goes the outline....
The Parable of the Wedding Feast
Section 1 - The King's Injunction 22:1-7
A. Refusal in verse 3 - those formerly invited refuse the royal summons on the feast day.
B. Rejection in verse 5 - those formerly invited refuse a second royal summons.
C. Rebellion in verse 6 - those who do not return to their vocations mistreat and murder royal servants.
D. Retribution in verse 7 - the king, in His wrath, destroys the brigands and their fortress.
Jews, historically, in the line of Abraham, had been given precious covenants and promises by God: when summoned to the salvation of the Kingdom by the prophets they rejected it for themselves, and now Christ has sent His apostles they will also do the same - the future for Judaism is bleak and Jerusalem would be destroyed in wrath. This parable was fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Romans razed the Holy City.
Given the context of the preceding parable and the rejection of Christ, the rejection of the injunction post-dates Jesus death and resurrection, 21:33-46.
- The judgment of God on Judaism was just.
- If we refuse the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the invitation of Christ through His apostles, we ourselves cannot escape the judgment.
- The LORD graciously and freely invites people to the banquet feast of the everlasting Kingdom so we must accept - if we accept the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the invitation of Christ through His apostles, our just judgment has fallen upon Christ.
- There are so many reasons why people rejected Christ - there are those who made excuses and there were those who were filled with envy and enmity.
- Natural flesh rejects the call and invitation of God to salvation for a variety of reasons.
Section 2 - The King's Invitation 22:8-10
A. Going in verses 8-9 - now royal servants are sent to previously uninvited folk whom they encounter travelling along main arterial routes.
B. Gathering in verse 10 - servants go as instructed and indiscriminately gather all they meet regardless of their moral state.
C. Guests in verse 10b - when the time for invitation stops, the wedding hall is packed.
- The free offer of the Gospel is indiscriminate.
- There are some within the flock who are not regenerate.
- Christ is to be preached to those both in and outside the covenant.
- Gentiles are reached by the proclamation of Christ.
- The ministers of Christ must preach until the day when the banquet table is set.
Section 3 - The King's Inspection
A. Intrusion in verse 11 - when the King comes in to inspect the guests, he spots a man who has no wedding dress.
B. Inquisition in verse 12 - when asked by the Monarch how he entered without following dress-code, the intruder is speechless.
C. Instruction in verse 13 - attendants are commanded to bind and eject the ill-suited guest and assign him to the place of indescribable lament and torment.
D. Conclusion in verse 14 - while many are invited few are elected.
Explanation - participation in the joyful eschatological celebrations requires not merely outward obedience to the general offer of the Gospel but also inward reception of Christ: the outcome of such faith is gracious imputation of His righteousness (gratuitous justification) - this in turn rests on particular election.
- Our true spiritual state might escape the discerning gaze of the officers of the church but will be determined, in truth, by the judicial, omniscient, penetrating gaze of Christ.
- The Gospel is the method of drawing in the elect - but not everyone who responds outwardly to Christ is inwardly or effectually called.
- There are some within the bounds of the professing church, who share in its privileges, but are not regenerate.
- Our standing before God depends on free justification - this is the outworking of eternal election.
- People who respond to the Gospel do so willingly.
- There is a great difference between being in the church and being in Christ.
- If we fail to receive Christ inwardly we will be cast into the torment of Hell.
- Those who despise the privileges, benefits and ministry of the church will be thrust out into a place of deepest darkness - if in addition to all their other sinful guilt, they added onto it this: they rejected bright, public, Gospel light.
- This parable requires the most serious reflection as to our own true spiritual state - it calls for prayer for grace and light to receive all the means of grace of the church with a tender, receptive, responsive, heart.
- Ministers of the Gospel should endeavor to pray for all their labors and strive with church members to warn them against the failure to obtain true saving faith in Christ.
- Sinful people can never be equipped to stand before God in their own merit or strength - the only, all-sufficient dress for naked sinners before God is the clothing the LORD provides: righteous, royal, robes of righteousness of Christ.
- Hell is a terrible place of terrifying ignorance, fear, curse and darkness away from the light of God's presence.
- Blackest darkness and hellish torment, and shameful nakedness, was what the Son of God endured on Calvary: he suffered as our substitute, under the strokes of the Father's wrath, for all beloved brethren - this was so that, by grace, through faith, in Christ alone, a multitude of sons and daughters might be saved and brought into the joyful light of His presence in God's final eternal bliss.
- An incredible feast of glory, provided through Christ's death, awaits all who put their trust in Jesus through His Gospel of free grace.