Parable of the Wedding Feast

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Parable of the Wedding Feast

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Matthew 22:1-14


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The Parables of Jesus (13)

We have been studying the teachings of Jesus, and in particular this year we have been studying the parables up to this point.  We studied through half of the recorded parables of Jesus.  Today I wish to examine another parable – one, like many of those we have examined, that reminds us of judgment, but it also presents some other valuable lessons.  We wish to examine the parable of the wedding feast.


  1. Background
    1. Jesus has entered into Jerusalem knowing that His time is finally at hand.
    2. Many of His parables and teachings during these final days are directed against the corrupt leaders of Jerusalem and the Jews. In fact, other than the time surrounding the parables of Matthew 13, we likely have more parables recorded during this final week than at other times.
      1. That is why we find parables like the one last week, that indicted them.
      2. Other parables during this time include:
        1. The parable of two sons – Who obeyed the father? (Matthew 21:28-32)
        2. The parable of the wicked vinedressers – who had leased a vineyard but rejected the owner and even killed his son (Matthew 21:33-46, also Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19)
        3. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) – 10 virgins awaiting the marriage feast, 5 were unprepared and therefore left out.
        4. The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) – which we alluded to last week
        5. Notice these are parables of rejection and judgment.
      3. There is another parable that has some similarities to the one we will notice this morning – the parable of the Great supper recorded in Luke 14:15-24. Here we find a man giving a great supper and servants are sent to those invited, who make all sorts of excuses as to why they cannot come.  The man is angered and tells his servants to go out into the highways and hedges and invite all they see to come.  Those invited would NOT taste of His supper.
        While there are similarities, this is a different parable at a different time and perhaps a broader focus than the parable of the wedding feast.
      4. Our parable comes after Jesus has been challenged for casting out the money changers and asked “by what authority are You doing these things” (Matthew 21:23-27). It is then followed by two parables of rejection as noted above.
  2. The parable
    1. The kingdom of heaven is like – again, notice Jesus is appealing to an aspect of His kingdom. In this case he deals with the great invitation offered to all AND how some would reject that invitation.
    2. A king who arranged a marriage for his son – remember that Jesus is our King or ruler as we have noted recently. Last week we addressed this in the parable of the ten minas nothing that Peter preached Jesus as both Lord and Christ (ruler) and seated at the right hand of God. (Acts 2:30-36)
      However, here the king would be God the Father, and Jesus the Son preparing to be married –
    3. Servants are sent out to call for those invited to the wedding feast – likely the invited was FIRST the nation of Israel. They were God’s promised people though whom salvation of the world would come.
      When Jesus gave instructions to His apostles, they were to go to the Jews first.  He even did this while sending the 12 (Matthew 10:5-6).  We also find this to be the approach in Acts – they would go to Jews first (cf. Acts 17:2)
    4. They were not willing to come (3) – this is a reference to the Jews who ought to have been ready to accept Jesus but would reject Him.
    5. He sent other servants (4-6) – this time with greater encouragement and promises, to the same people. This shows the compassionate and longsuffering character of God – 2 Peter 3:9, James 5:11.  Contrast that with a king who had absolute rule and could have retaliated after the first rejection.
      1. Some made light of it and went their own ways – They were flippant about it and didn’t care.  I am reminded here of the parable of the great supper where those invited began to make excuses.  Here while the excuses are not mentioned, they would have been of the same disposition.
      2. Others seized the servants and killed them – some were so wicked they killed the servants. This could tie back to the parable of the wicked vinedressers Jesus had mentioned in a parable just prior to this (Matthew 21:33-46).
        Jesus is here foretelling their outright rejection of Him – Matthew 23:31-32, cf. Acts 7:51-52
    6. When the king hears about this he is furious and sends his armies to destroy those wicked men and their city – likely this is reference to the judgment that would take place against Jerusalem in AD 70. Jesus on many occasions addressed this, including a discourse recorded after in Matthew 24:1-2ff  Jesus grieved knowing what was going to happen to that city – and it was because of their utter rejection of Him and God = Matthew 23:37-39.
    7. Then his servants were sent out into the highways to find anyone who would come (9-10) –
      He declares that those who were invited and refused to come were not worthy. This is similar to what Paul would say to the Jews in Antioch of Pisidia – Acts 13:46 – Paul turns to the Gentiles.  NOT Paul is not the one who declared them unworthy, it was their own behavior!
      The servants comply and invited all “both good and bad” (remember how we have noticed the self-righteous judgment of “sinners”?).
      IN this parable, this could also mean the Gentiles.
      The house was filled with guests
    8. When the king comes in he finds a man who did not have on a wedding garment (11-12) – The man unclothed – it was custom back then for those who provided such feasts and weddings to provide garments for those who were unable to do so for themselves.
      So this servant had opportunity to dress properly, but he CHOSE not to! His failure to dress properly showed his disrespect for the king.
      Thus when challenged, he was speechless – he had no excuse.
    9. Judgment is pronounced against the unprepared man – here we find the condemnation of such a person who chose not to prepare. Jesus concluded by saying “many are called, but few are chosen.”  The lesson of this parable.
  3. Lesson
    1. There is a day of judgment coming – like so many of the parables we have addressed, we are simply reminded that a day of judgment and accountability.
    2. We are the bride of Christ? Often in NT teachings there is reference to us as His bride. It could be us as Christians, but also corporately, the church is His bride.  Consider:
      1. 2 Corinthians 11:2 where Paul noted we are “betrothed to one husband, that I may present as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
      2. Ephesians 5:22-33 where Paul compared the relationship of a husband and wife to that of Christ and His church.
      3. Romans 7:4 – Therefore, my brethren, you have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
      4. Revelation 19:7-9 – Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
      5. Revelation 21:9, an angel says to John he will show him, “the bride, the Lamb’s wife”
      6. Being that bride encompasses everything associated with it – faithfulness, purity, monogamy (He is your ONLY spiritual spouse), etc.
    3. Will we accept His invitation?
      1. The invitation to the feast is always available to us. God wants us to be part of His kingdom.  He desires that we repent and put our trust in Him – 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9, etc.
      2. Jesus Himself said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden…” (Matthew 11:28-30)
        Revelation 22:17 says, And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
      3. Far too many today are like the first servants – flippant and uncaring. They either put it off or they just don’t care about it right now.  Maybe they are like Felix – Acts 24:25.
        Still others are outright hostile to God and His word – they despise God and everything He stands for.  They despise his disciples – US!   Romans 2:4-11 describes their fate as treasuring up for themselves wrath in the day of judgment.  Equally, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9
      4. But when that day of judgment comes, they will have no excuse.
      5. We have been invited, how will we respond?
    4. We have a calling to invite others to this “wedding feast
      1. Just as the servants were sent out to invite all – both the Jews and the Gentiles, we find in scripture we are called upon to share the gospel with others.
      2. Matthew 28:18-20 – we are to go and make disciples… Baptizing and teaching to observe all He has commanded
        2 Corinthians 5:11 – knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men
        1 Peter 3:15 – sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready to give a defense…
        Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men…
      3. Just as the servants were not accountable for who came and did not, neither are we. We are simply entrusted with planting the seed and watering what has been planted.  Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:6 – yes this is a simplified observation, but the principle is that basic!
    5. Many are called, few are chosen
      1. One might ask, “What about the man improperly clothed?”
        If it is true as mentioned, that often the host would provide appropriate garments so as not to exclude, then the man without a wedding garment was responsible for himself.
        Why did he not have it?  We are not told.
      2. BUT it does remind us that many want to be part of the kingdom of God, but they want to do so on their own terms? They want to choose what sins or activities they can continue.  They want entertainment and something “relevant”.  They want to remain in their unlawful relationships.  Etc.
      3. We CANNOT serve God if we do not surrender to Him! Matthew 6:33, Romans 12:1-2.
        We must come to Him on HIS terms!   Galatians 3:27 – we put on Christ.
        Romans 13:14 calls for us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provisions for the flesh.
      4. And the sad reality is that many, even among those who THINK they are saved, will not be because they have not obeyed Him. Hence the warning, many are called…  – cf. Matthew 7:21-23, 13-14 – the way into heaven is narrow and difficult and few find it.

And thus we can see another parable of Jesus.  This one, like the last has some historical attachments, but it also indicates our responsibilities to ensure that we are one of the few who will enter the kingdom of heaven, AND that we seek to find others to go in with us.   What about you?  Are you in Christ?  Think about it!