Mr. and Mrs. LeBlanc
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Danae Joy LeBlanc
Shane Dale Martin
Saturday, the 14th of July
at 1:30 in the afternoon
Banquet to follow
Ten years ago our wedding invitation read something like this. We recently celebrated our anniversary and it just doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that we were excitedly creating a guest list, licking stamps, sealing envelopes, and mailing out our wedding invitations hoping that many of our friends and family would be eager and able to join us for what was the most important day in our lives to that point.
Last night I read Matthew 22:1-14 where Jesus tells a group of religious leaders the Parable of the Wedding Feast. After I read the passage I took a deep breath and picked up my journal and pen knowing it was going to be a long night of study and writing. There is so much in this parable to process and I’m sure that even in the two and a half hours I spent with it that I only just scratched the surface of the message. The prophetic words that Jesus spoke on this occasion address the expanse of time from the ancient Israelites right up to the end of the ages.
Here is what he said to them:
The Parable of the Wedding Feast – Matthew 22:1-14 ESV
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
After reading that heavy passage maybe you also have taken a deep breath, except you’re holding it waiting to see what will be said and thinking, “This is serious.” I hope so, because it is serious. And I can’t tell you how often Shane and I changed the wording of verse 14 to suit our own thinking and theology. We would often explain to others, and in conversation with one another, about this verse that it “didn’t actually mean few are chosen, but that it should say few have chosen“. It almost makes me want to laugh out loud at myself in disbelief that I could so misquote Scripture because my finite, and frankly unconverted, mind could not grasp the fact that God is in control of everything, including salvation. Anyway, I’ll get to verse 14 later.
This parable is prophetic on three levels that I’m able to see.
- It was prophetic of the current times, in which it was told, of the derelict religious leaders rejection of the gospel that was preached to them by John the Baptist and now Jesus.
- It was prophetic of the near future when salvation would become available to all nations, Jews and Gentiles alike, through God’s ordination.
- It was prophetic of the end of times and of Jesus return.
No one is really worthy to be there or even to be invited, but by the mysterious grace of God. And many responded then, and will continue to respond, in the same way the parable describes the responses of the ones initially invited. It says, “They would not come…”, “they paid no attention…”, and they “went off…”. They were more concerned with their work, their businesses, and their lives, in general. They weren’t necessarily harsh in their response to the servant’s invitation, they were just too busy to accept the invitation. When we sent out our wedding invitations there were many people who were unable to attend for one reason or another. Some couldn’t get away from work, some were unable to travel the distance, some had other previous engagements, and we were fine with their response because we expected it. (We read in a wedding magazine that 70% of the people you invite will reply “yes”, and 70% of the people who reply “yes” will actually come). We weren’t offended at their refusal because we knew that they weren’t slighting us, they sincerely couldn’t make it and most likely were sorry they couldn’t.
However, Jesus begins this parable by saying that the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. If an earthly king, especially in ancient times, were to hold a wedding feast and his invitations were refused this would be a great dishonor to the king and enough to provoke his anger and wrath. The parable even describes that some of the king’s servants were severely persecuted and killed when they delivered the invitation to the wedding feast. We can obviously draw the parallel by this point that the invitation in the parable is like the invitation of the gospel to salvation. And I think, that in North America at least, we are more likely able to relate the most to the ones who didn’t come to the wedding feast because they were too busy. There is no real offense to the gospel and perhaps they even have time to attend church once a week or a couple times a month. But a wedding feast in those days would’ve lasted several days and would’ve required a bigger commitment of actually walking away from their lives for a week or so. And similarly in modern times a bigger commitment, especially one that involves denying yourself is sadly too often “too much to ask” and “just not possible right now.”
Since Jesus said we could compare this parable to the kingdom of heaven we must take into consideration the King of kings offense at the refusal of his invitation. His invitation is merciful and for an undeserving “commoner” to receive such an invitation is a great and humbling honor. It’s refusal will be justly judged by the only just Judge. Hebrews 2:1-3 says,
Warning Against Neglecting Salvation – (Hebrews 2:1-3 ESV, emphasis mine)
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
The second element of the prophesy in the parable of the wedding feast is the invitation of salvation being made available to all nations, Jews and Gentiles alike. As Christians we should consider ourselves to be God’s servants and, as in the parable, we have been given the command and authority to “invite to the wedding feast as many you find.” We are to preach the gospel everywhere we go and tell as many people as we can, “both bad and good” (as vs.10 puts it), meaning that as servants we don’t have the authority to pick and choose who to invite based on our perception of who we think the King would want as his guest or who we feel comfortable inviting. The command is to invite “as many as you find”.
The third element of prophesy in this is that of the end times and what will happen when the kingdom of God actually arrives. And so, as a parallel, we can look to Revelation 19:6-9 to see further what Jesus is speaking of when he talks about the wedding feast.The
Marriage Supper of the Lamb – Revelation 19:6-9 ESV
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
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.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
In the parable Jesus tells how the king comes in to look at his guests and finds a man who is not dressed properly and he stops. He addresses him kindly at first as “Friend”, but regardless of his compassion he is just and his just judgment takes place in the man being cast out when he is speechless as to why he is not dressed in the proper wedding garment. This is somewhat similar to the way Jesus addressed Judas Iscariot as “friend” when he came to him in Gethsemane and betrayed him with a kiss.
Matthew 26:50 ESV … Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
Jesus is both kind and just. His kindness and compassion is shown to us through his patience and long suffering in giving us time to repent and come to him.
2 Peter 3:9 ESV .. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
However, his justice will also be shown when he comes again in judgment for the sin of those who did not repent when they were given the invitation. (And this is why we desperately and urgently share the gospel, blog, preach, and speak to people about the truth because we believe that this will be a great and terrible day.)
The parable also talks about the man not having the proper wedding garment on as being the reason for his casting out. And when we look at Revelation 19 it explains this when it describes the Bride of Christ being “clothed in fine linen, bright and pure.” So the wedding garment in the parable is a representation of the fine linen of the Bride in Revelation 19, and John tells us there that the fine linen is the “righteous deeds of the saints,” which was granted to the Bride to wear by the husband, the Lamb, which is Christ. So the man represents an unworthy guest because he had not been given the proper attire, meaning he had not been granted the permission to be a wedding guest at the marriage supper of the Lamb and therefore he was not clothed with the righteous deeds that adorn the saints, the children, the chosen ones, of God.
And finally we come to verse 14 “For many are called but few are chosen.” This is a difficult verse to accept and it is so tempting to change the wording of it as we did several years ago. Instead of diving into a deep ocean of a topic that I’m probably unqualified to explain in detail, I will stick to the text of Matthew 22:9
Matthew 22:9 ESV .. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’
I have to read this verse as it is worded by Matthew and ultimately by the Holy Spirit, and we have to read it in the context of the parable in which it was told. If we look at the command of the King to his servants it is for them (and for us) to invite as many people as we can find regardless of who they are. Many who are invited will not actually be chosen by the King, but that is not our responsibility. For many are called, or invited, by the servants who are doing their duty by following the command of the King, but few are chosen by the King because his requirements are black and white. Repent and Believe the Gospel.
Jesus Begins His Ministry – Mark 1:14-15 ESV
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
There is only one way to be saved and it is through repentance for sins (turning our backs on our sin and walking away from that life for good) and belief in Jesus alone for our salvation. If a person does not come in this way, that God has provided, they will find themselves in the position of the improperly dressed man at the wedding feast of the king’s son, being cast out. This is horrifying to think of, yet it must be thought through for your own sake and for the sake of those around you who also need to hear this.
The duty of the Christian in light of this parable is to “invite as many as we find” in obedience to the King’s command, and to the unbeliever who hears this parable, his duty is to examine himself to see if there is evidence of fine linen or of excuses.
God the Father
requests the humility of your presence
at the marriage of his Son
Jesus the Christ
his Bride the Church (You)
the day of Salvation
Wedding Feast to follow
Preparing the Way,
~ Danae Martin