A Contemporary Look at Jesus Parables €“ The Wedding Banquet

As we all know, Jesus often taught in parables. Parables use earthly examples to teach spiritual lessons.

Today we will look at the Parable of the Wedding Banquet.

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet 

1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off – one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:1-14)

Once again in this parable Jesus is using an earthly example to teach spiritual values. During His time, a wedding banquet was well known to all of the people to whom He was speaking. A wedding was a huge social event in Jewish culture. Those invited would be seated and fed according to their social status or pecking order. The custom was for the wedding host, the father of the groom, to furnish everything from food and drink to wedding clothing. To decline an invitation to the wedding banquet was viewed as an insult to the host. The invitations would have been delivered early and then servants sent to notify people when the feast was ready to be served.

2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ (Matthew 22:2-4)

Here, the father of the groom was God, the groom is His Son and the banquet represents the kingdom of heaven. Throughout the Old Testament God had sent His servants, the prophets, to invite the nation of Israel (the twelve tribes) to follow His commands. As we saw throughout the OT, the people continually rejected the call. The prophets had also foretold the coming of the Messiah, Christ Jesus. The religious leaders of Israel also rejected the groom. In following their interpretation of Mosaic Law the leaders of the Jews had strayed from Gods intent.

5 “But they paid no attention and went off: one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. (Matthew 22:5-6)

Many reasons were given for not accepting the invitation. Most were self-centered. As we saw throughout the OT, the prophets were persecuted and some even killed. (As we see later in history many others who have gone against the man created doctrine of leaders in the universal church or civil authority were also persecuted or killed because of their proclaiming the Word of God.)

The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. (Matthew 22:7)

God is enraged by the rejection of His Son and of His invitation to salvation. So He sends out His messengers to destroy those who had rejected Him. We’ve seen Gods wrath before many times: Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the destruction of the nation of Israel, the captivity of Judah and destruction of Solomon’s Temple. Here Jesus is also predicting the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple which would occur in 70 A.D.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. (Matthew 22:8-10)

The Jewish leaders had rejected both the invitation and the groom. So God not only promised retribution on them, but opened the doors of His kingdom to others. Jesus had always ministered to the poor, the lame and those who did not follow the strict Mosaic Law of the time. Here, God was also opening the door to the gentiles to come to the kingdom through celebration of the groom. In verse 8, Jesus also says that those who reject the invitation are not worthy to enter the kingdom. Jesus confirms this in John 14:6.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 22:11-13)

At the wedding banquet (in the kingdom of heaven) God provides everything. In the Lords Prayer, we are also told that if we accept Gods terms (Thy will be done) that we will be provided for (give us this day our daily bread.)

As we saw in the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, the rewards are the same for everyone who enters the kingdom. One who had come to the wanted to enjoy the feast but not follow the rules of the host. He was willing to believe, but not to follow. He wanted to retain control by not taking what the host (God) had offered. God had him bound and cast in the outer darkness, a metaphor for eternal punishment. The weeping and gnashing of teeth expresses Gods intense pain and sorrow for having to banish one of His children from the kingdom.

The parable of the wedding banquet tells us that we are all invited to enter the kingdom of heaven. But this invitation is not unconditional. We must not only believe, but follow. God does not eliminate His standards when He offers us grace. When we accept the invitation, like the wedding clothes, we must put aside our old self€ be born again. These are the terms of the invitation.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

All are invited; many accept the invitation on their own terms. Only a few are chosen because they are also willing to accept the terms of Gods grace.

Shalom,
Art
Alive in The Word

This blog is part of a series. For the other blogs in this series, see below:

What is a parable?

A Contemporary Look at Jesus Parables €“ The Wedding Banquet

A Contemporary Look at Jesus’ Parables-Laborers in the Vineyard

A Contemporary Look at Jesus’ Parables: The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

A Contemporary Look at Jesus’ Parables: The Ten Lepers

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About aliveintheword

Missouri, USA Married to Marty, 45 years 2 sons (with 2 daughers-in-law) and 2 granddaughters Life dedicated to serving Jesus Christ and delivering the Good News
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