Today’s reading: Matthew 22:1-22
The parable of the Marriage Feast is an allegory of salvation history culminating in Jesus. The king is God who prepares the heavenly wedding banquet for his son, Jesus. The servants sent out by the king to are the Old Testament prophets called to summon Israel. However, the invited guests refuse to come and even kill the servants. In response, the king destroys those that rejected his invitation. We know that soon after resurrection, the nation of Israel will be finally destroyed by the Romans.
The King then sends other servants, the Apostles, to invite others (the Gentiles), bad and good, as many as they can find to the celebration. These people are happy to come to the feast.
There is one man who comes to the wedding feast lacking proper attire (the wedding garment). He is bound and cast out of the feast into the darkness of eternal punishment. The parable highlights God’s impartial treatment of all who are called – Jews and Gentiles. He rewards and punishes on the basis of one’s acceptance or rejection of his call.
The wedding garment is a symbol of righteous deeds that accompany faith. We see this most clearly in Rev 19: 7-8:
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure"—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
This parable makes very clear, there are 2 parts, steps, stages, criteria, a process – call it what you want – to the Marriage Feast – i.e., Heaven. There is getting invited and there is being allowed to stay. Notice the last sentence of the parable, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” In the parable, EVERYONE is invited to the feast. First, he invites all of the special guests (Israel) and then everyone else. Notice, the King does not pick who he wants to come, he INVITES everyone and some reject the invitation. Thus God does not compel the salvation of anyone and He allows free will to reject his invitation.
Then, even though people were literally invited right off the street, they still were expected to prepare and wear a wedding garment. Notice, that fact that you need righteous deeds to stay at the Marriage Feast does NOT mean that you merited the invitation. The guest who is thrown out was invited, even though he had not righteous deeds, no wedding garment. However, it does mean that once invited, you must choose to do things you can to prepare for the wedding feast. This again shows that salvation is a process by which we are made ready for heaven and good works are the things we clothe ourselves in to be ready for the feast.
Tomorrow: Matthew 22: 23-46