For the past several months, we have been covering Jesus’ “Mysteries of the Kingdom of God” which are the various parables that He taught concerning God’s kingdom. In it, we have spent most of our time looking at the parables Jesus taught in Matthew chapter 13, but we have most recently seen that there are a few more kingdom parables that Jesus taught in the Gospel of Matthew. All of these parables were meant to illustrate the way things operate in God’s kingdom. And that has been the point of this particular series of teachings—to see how God’s kingdom works.
Church, this is so important for us to learn because there is the potential for one to be a born-again, Spirit-filled believer and not experience everything God’s kingdom has to offer. This can occur if one does not learn the in’s and out’s of His kingdom and apply those kingdom principles to their everyday life.
So, last time, we looked at Matthew chapter 20 where we have another one of Jesus’ parables which describe His kingdom—the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. We saw that this parable was given in response to Peter’s question towards the end of chapter 19 where he asked “what was in it for them” seeing that they had left all to follow Him. So, this is what led up to Jesus giving them this Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard—which is essentially a parable describing how there are those who leave all to follow and serve Him at different times.
Now we made the point that though the example is of the hiring of laborers and paying them for their work, this parable is in no way meant to illustrate to us that our salvation is on a works basis. In fact, salvation is not even what this parable is referring to because, based on Peter’s question earlier that provoked this parable, we are talking about the rewards for serving Him—which are most certainly based on the work we do in His vineyard. We saw in this parable that grace plays an integral role in the kingdom of God, but we made the point that we don’t need to make the mistake of thinking that God saves us according to our service of Him. Salvation does not work that way, but certain rewards & blessings do.
But the main point of this parable is the response we see in those who were hired first and worked the entire day for the agreed denarius when it came time for them to be paid: When they saw how those who were hired were paid at the various times after them, they assumed that the landowner would be paying them more. Well, he didn’t, but rather paid them what they agreed upon, which greatly upset them. But should they have been upset? No because they got exactly what they agreed upon. Whether or not the master wanted to give those who were hired later in the day the same was his prerogative.
I made the point then that I wonder if this same thing has ever happened to us—that we have expected the Lord to do something for us or someone we love because of what we or they have done or because of what we or they have not done. “This shouldn’t be happening to them because they are a good person” we say, but we need to understand that it doesn’t work that way. To have that mentality that they don’t deserve to have something bad happen to them because they are a good person indicates that we believe our works have something to do with our experiences. While both our good and poor choices can certainly have their ramifications, to think that one does not deserve to go through what they are going through is the wrong mentality. The truth is—if we were going to base everything on what we deserve, then we all deserve hell and every other kind of suffering. Why? Because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is truly none good, no, not one.
We then looked at the role God’s grace plays in our lives because this parable shows us the nature of His grace and that there are varying layers of grace. And we learned that is one of the most important aspects of God’s kingdom that we need to understand—how everything in God’s kingdom is grace-based. Yes, this grace is not just limited to our spiritual needs. The Lord also has given unto us all things that pertain to this life as well as godliness. Yes, we are blessed by His grace! We are healed by His grace! We have soul restoration by His grace! And the list goes on.
You see, we understand how this applies to our salvation—that no amount of good deeds one does can qualify them to be saved. Our salvation is completely a gift of God—meaning we can’t earn it or work to obtain it, but we need to understand that everything else from our being used by God to accumulating treasures in heaven as a result of working for Him is by His grace as well. This is why we are shown in the Bible that those who have been rewarded crowns in heaven for their service of the Lord throwing them at Jesus’ feet and saying, “Worthy is the Lamb.” It’s because they know that if it were not for the grace of God, they never would have been able to do the things they did to earn those crowns.
So, yes, grace is a big part of the kingdom of God. It’s how we are were saved initially and how we experience His salvation every day subsequently. It doesn’t matter if we have been a Christians for 50 years or 50 days, it will always be the same—by grace and through faith.
THE ARRANGED MARRIAGE
So, let’s move on to another parable that illustrates the way God’s kingdom operates. The one I want us to look at this week is found in Matthew chapter 22 …
This chapter begins by saying, “And Jesus answered …” Now we have no evidence at the end of chapter 21 that a question was ever asked for Jesus to answer. Just because it was not recorded doesn’t mean there wasn’t a question asked, but perhaps Jesus was answering the question that was in people’s heart regarding Jesus’ sayings from chapter 21.
You see, Jesus told two parables in that chapter that are similar to this Parable of the Wedding Feast: One was the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32) and the other was the Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers (Matthew 21:33-40). In both of these parables, Jesus described Israel’s rejection of the call of the Lord to work in His vineyard. As a result, Jesus described how the kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to a nation bearing the fruits worthy of repentance (See verse 43).
Then verses 45-46 tell us that when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard both of these parables, they picked up on the fact that He was talking about them. This, of course, infuriated them and they were ready to “lay hands” on Him right then and there. But they knew the multitudes thought He was a prophet, so they restrained themselves.
So, this is what led to Jesus’ response of the Parable of the Wedding Feast. Let’s now look at what Jesus said in it:
Verse 2 begins with— “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son …”
Now we are again obviously talking about God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, here. So, first of all, notice that in this parable God is called a “certain king”—and that He is. God is our King, which means that we ought to recognize Him as such by walking in obedience to Him, worshipping Him, etc.
You see, far too many people in the Body of Christ today lack the fear of God. They readily embrace the love of God, but that reverence and respect of the King is not practiced as much as it needs to be. Church, we must recognize Him as the King of all kings and live our lives like He is our Lord.
So, Jesus said that the Lord God, our King, “arranged a marriage for his son.” Notice that this was an “arranged” marriage. Now while our culture today does not necessarily embrace “arranged” marriages, they are not such a bad thing. Did you know that arranged marriages seem to be more successful than even our traditional “love marriages?” Now there are a lot of factors that might contribute to arranged marriages being less likely to end in divorce, but the fact is that there are certainly pros and cons to both types of marriages. And evidently the Lord isn’t against the idea of arranged marriages because that is how He has set it up with His Son.
In this case, the Father does know best, and He has specifically hand-picked the bride for His Son. In Romans 8:29-30 we are told that He first “foreknew” her. Then He “predestined” and “called” her. Therefore, the Lord’s marriage to His bride has most definitely been arranged by the Father, and praise God for that! Father knows best!
DOES GOD ALWAYS GET WHAT HE WANTS?
Then Jesus said in verse 3— “and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.”
So, this king sent servants out to call those who were invited to attend his son’s wedding. Who do you suppose these servants are in the kingdom of God? They are His prophets—those whom God sent to Israel and Judah time and time again. And as evidenced by those various times, the invitation to repent and return to the Lord was often rejected by His people.
And notice that Jesus said that “they were not willing to come”—which is the real issue here. You see, it’s not God’s will that is the issue. He has made it clear what His will is, and we are told to not be ignorant but to understand His will (See Ephesians 5:17). The real issue now is our will. Are we willing to come to the wedding? Do we want to come to the table and eat? Do we desire to come to the party?
Matthew 23:37 illustrates this truth: In it, Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
First of all, notice how Jesus is speaking to Jerusalem, God’s chosen city of God’s chosen people. He is lamenting over the people of God, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! Again, this describes those servants of God sent to invite them to the great wedding feast.
And what does Jesus go on to say? “How often I wanted to gather your children together …”
If you were to ask your average Christian “Does God get what He wants?” your resounding answer would be— “Yes, of course, He does!” But is that really true? Does God get everything He wants? According to this Scripture, He often wanted to gather the children of Israel together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! Yes, He wanted to gather His people together under His protective covering—close to Him and free from all danger—but they were not willing!
Now, again, was God willing? Yes! He wanted them under His wings! But they were not willing, proving to us that our will can override His will. And we have to know this is true when you see the majority of God’s church weak and powerless and living defeated, not turning the world upside down like the early church did. Friends, if we are not seeing what the early church did, then it is not God who changed; It is the church who is not willing. Amen?
WHY ON EARTH?
Then in verse 4, we see Jesus telling us what this king did next: He said, “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.’ ”
Notice that word at the beginning of the verse— “Again.” You see, with the Lord there is always an “again.” In other words, He gives the opportunity to repent and is not a “one and done” God. Thank God for the multiple appeals He makes to all of us to make the right choice!
So, these servants come to those who were already invited to the wedding again with a message from the king. This time, he wants to share with them what is available at this wedding, and it’s a feast! He said to tell them, “See, I have prepared my dinner (for you to partake of), and the menu is the best meat! It’s all ready for you to come and freely partake of! Come to the wedding!”
You see, this is an illustration of the gospel message! The Lord told His servants to go tell them the good news of what is available for them by His grace! But did they just readily accept this gracious invitation? Nope! We see in verses 5-6— “But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.”
Why on earth would some make light of such a wonderful invitation? That’s why—because they are “on earth.” In other words, it is because they are in the world and the world is in them. This is when they “went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business …”
Jesus illustrates what was happening here in a more detailed way in His Parable of the Great Supper in Luke 14:18-20: After the great invitation to His supper was given, Jesus described how all who were invited responded: “But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ ”
Now the reason this is in the Bible is because this is the tendency that is in all of us—to not prioritize the call of the Lord to come dine with him. Church, living in this world, it is just easy to love the things in it. We’ve all made this mistake multiple times in our lives.
But there were some who took it to a whole other level: While some went their ways—just being preoccupied with other things— “the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.”
This is obviously referring to how the Jews were known for taking the prophet who was sent to them by the Lord and persecuting the Lord’s servants. This is something that can be expected—that people will seek to silence the Lord’s mouthpiece by any means necessary.
But the fact is, there are all sorts of levels to rejecting the invitation of the Lord to His wedding feast, and we likely have all participated in it somehow. But while it might be something we’ve all experienced, that doesn’t mean the Lord condones it. In fact, notice how the king responded …
In verse 7, we are told— “But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” This is, of course, showing the Jewish people what happened to them by rejecting His servants that He had sent to them—namely, His Holy Servant, the Lord Jesus.
Notice what Jesus said next in verses 8-10— “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore, go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 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.”
What we are seeing here is how after the Jews would reject their Messiah, the Lord would then target the Gentiles. These are those in the “highways.” And notice how those His servants found were “both bad and good.” To me, that’s just beautiful!
You see, the Lord hasn’t just invited the “good” to His wedding feast; He’s invited the “bad” too. In other words, there is no distinction made. As the king told his servants, it’s “as many as you find” that need to be invited. Aren’t you glad for that!?! The Lord was not cherry picking. He said to invite “whosoever will”—both good and bad. Amen!
THE WEDDING GARMENT
But, finally, notice what happened after the hall was filled with its guests: “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So, he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 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.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Verses 11-14)
You see, it was customary in their culture for the one who held the wedding to provide all their guests with wedding garments. Therefore, it would obviously be expected that all of the guests be wearing those garments at the wedding. Likewise, our Lord and King has provided all of His guests with garments and a robe! This is spoken of in Isaiah 61:10 when we are told— “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness …”
Praise God, this is what He has done for all those who have been born again and are the true children of God—He has clothed us in the garments of His salvation and has covered us in His robe of righteousness! And it’s important for us to know that this was necessary:
You see, before coming to Christ, our garments were tattered. They were filthy. Isaiah 64:6 says it this way— “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags …” So, all of our garments were filthy and unclean. Yes, as Romans 3:10 states, there is none righteous, no not one.
So, we all had need of new garments. That’s where Jesus came on the scene, and He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (Second Corinthians 5:21). Now, we have been provided with His garments of salvation—meaning, we have His peace, His joy, His deliverance, His healing, His blessing, etc. Now, we have been covered in His very own righteousness—having exchanged our filthy rags for His rich robe! Amen.
Then notice what Isaiah 61:10 goes on to say … “As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” So, do you see the comparison of these garments of salvation and robe of righteousness to wedding garments? I believe this is what Jesus was illustrating to us.
But for whatever reason, there was a guest who didn’t have on the wedding garment that the king had so graciously provided. So, Jesus told us that when the king saw this, he approached the man and asked him how he got in without a wedding garment, and we are told that the man was speechless.
I see this as descriptive to how there are people who are trying to enter the kingdom of God by their own righteousness. You see, there are going to be those who think they will attend the marriage supper of the Lamb because they do things or don’t do certain things. This is essentially what Adam and Eve did when they sinned in the Garden. Instead of being clothed in the glory of God, they attempted to cover their shame with fig leaves. Church, these fig leaves will never suffice to cover our own unrighteousness. We must be clothed in the raiment of Christ in order to be a legitimate guest in this marriage feast because when the Day comes that we all stand before the judgment, those who have not put on His wedding garments will stand before him like this man, “speechless.” As the prophet forecasted— “every mouth will be stopped and the whole world will be found guilty before God” (Romans 3:19).
Zephaniah 1:7-8 prophesies this beautifully when he says, “Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; For the day of the Lord is at hand, For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests. And it shall be, in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with foreign apparel.”
This is a prophecy of the Great Judgment which correlates with Jesus’ parable that describes to us that all must accept the gospel invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb and be clothed in His wedding garments.
Church, this what the King of king’s kingdom is all about—a marriage feast! It’s about joy! It’s about prosperity! It’s about favor! But, most importantly, it’s about a marriage—our marriage as the Bride of Christ to our Groom, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Never forget that we are in a marriage with Jesus. Therefore, it is all about relationship with Him—the love He has for us and the love we have with Him. This will be a point we will hammer in a couple of weeks, but until then—don’t miss the invitation to the party! While the kingdom of God is not about eating & drinking; it is about eating & drinking from the table of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Amen!