1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14
The chief priests and Pharisees, along with many of the Jews, rejected Jesus as their Messiah and Savior and would not trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins and a place in God’s eternal kingdom. God’s servants, the apostles and prophets, proclaimed to them the way of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus; but they made light of God’s gracious invitation and even mistreated and killed God’s servants.
With the parable of the king who made a marriage supper for his son, Jesus illustrated to his hearers how they were rejecting God’s gracious invitation to have a part in His kingdom and partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb through faith in His own dear Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rev. 19:7ff.).
They were too busy with their own lives and their own religious works and they made excuses and did not come and partake of the salvation God provided in His Son, who died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose again in victory.
As described in Jesus’ parable (v. 7), the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants were judged by God for their rejection of Christ Jesus. The city was destroyed and burned with fire, and its inhabitants were either killed or carried away captive by the Roman armies in 70 A.D.
The LORD God has also sent His servants out to invite others to have a part in His eternal kingdom through faith in Christ Jesus. The Gospel has been preached not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles around the world and many have heeded God’s gracious invitation. Through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross, many have received forgiveness of sins and will partake of the eternal joys of heaven.
And they are clothed not with their own sin-tainted righteousness but with the perfect righteousness of Christ. It is only for the sake of Christ and His innocent sufferings and death in their stead that they are acceptable to God and have a place in His everlasting kingdom (cf. Eph. 1:6-8).
We read in Revelation 7:14 about those who are around the throne of God: “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (read v. 9-17).
But, like the man who came without a wedding garment, there are also those who try to enter God’s kingdom by their own sin-tainted works rather than by simply receiving the righteousness of Christ which is ours through faith in Him. Those who attempt to partake of God’s eternal kingdom clothed in the spotted garment of the flesh rather than in the righteousness of Christ will be cast out into the darkness and eternal torment of hell because, as Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 64:6, “We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
What about you?
God’s gracious invitation continues to go out to all — us included — but only those who, by the grace of God, repent and heed the Gospel call, trusting in Christ alone for eternal salvation, will be saved. Again, the Bible says: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16; cf. John 3:18,36; Eph. 2:8-9).
And Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Christ died for the sins of all and the Gospel invitation goes out to all, but only those who by the gracious working of God’s Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament heed the Word, repent of their sinful ways, place their faith in the shed blood of Christ Jesus and continue in that faith will be saved (cf. 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 1:3ff.; Acts 13:48).
Therefore, as we learn from Jesus’ parable, we also need to beware lest we begin to take that invitation lightly and neglect the Word and Sacraments or we begin to depend upon our own sin-tainted righteousness rather than trusting alone in the perfect righteousness of Christ Jesus our Savior.
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress; midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head. Bold shall I stand in that great Day, for who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully thro’ these absolved I am from sin and fear, from guilt and shame. Amen. (“Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness,” “Christi Blut und Gerechtigkeit.” Translator: John Wesley (1740). Author: Ludwig von Zinzendorf – 1739, cento)
[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]