Sunday, April 04, 2010

Matthew 22:1-14 - You're Invited!

Opening thoughtSir Leonard Wood once visited the King of France and the king was so pleased with him he was invited for dinner the next day. Sir Leonard went to the palace and the king met him in one of the halls said, “Why Sir Leonard, I did not expect to see you. How is it you are here?” “Did not your majesty invite me to dine with you?” said the astonished guest. “Yes,” replied the king, “but you did not answer my invitation.” Then Sir Leonard Wood uttered one the best sentences of his life: “A king’s invitation is never to be answered, but to be obeyed.”

Pray and Read: Matthew 22:1-14

Contextual Notes: 
Matthew's goal in writing his gospel was to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah King that the entire Bible up to that point (the Old Testament) predicted. This parable is about a king and his son’s wedding banquet.

This parable was given during Jesus’ last week on earth, his Passion Week. Since it follows the triumphant entry and precedes Jesus’ teaching on the end times (Matthew 24, 25) on Wednesday of the Passion Week, chronology experts put this parable on Wednesday morning (along with all of Matthew 21:19b through 23:37-39).

There is a vital connection between this parable and the former as seen in the linking of Matthew 21:43 and 22:2. In the previous parable, Jesus exposes the neglect of a call to duty and the abuse of that privilege. This parable points to neglect of call to mercy and the judgment which comes from its abuse.

Looking at the parable, we have first a royal father and the wedding feast of his son. This certain king is undoubtedly God the Father. In the previous parable he is the Householder. Here he is the King. In the former parable, Christ was the Heir and Son. Here he is the King’s Son (Psalm 72:1; 2:6).

Martin Luther: “The king who made the marriage feast is our heavenly Father; the bridegroom is His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; the bride is the Christian Church, we and all the world, so far as it believes.”[1]

This parable is not the same as the parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:15) and is found only in Matthew.[2] It obviously refers to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19), but the details cannot be pressed. The meaning of this parable in the context of the Lord’s Passion Week, in which he was to be betrayed and crucified, is pretty clear--it condemns the contempt that Israel as a whole (and everyone in general) had (and has) for God’s gracious invitation through Jesus the Messiah. This is parable of the wedding feast is a warning about being nonchalant with the invitation of the King.

The parable incorporates two favorite OT images of the New Covenant – a festival and a marriage. This is a banquet of the spiritual blessings set before all people: pardon of sin, favor with God, peace in one’s conscience, access to the Throne of Grace, the great and precious promises of the Word of God, the comfort of the Spirit, the assurance of eternal life, and the eternal security of the believer.

This parable warns us against the abuse of free grace and unconditional salvation by us sinners.

Key Truth: Matthew wrote Matthew 22:1-14 to teach believers and warn unbelievers about how they handle the King’s invitation to follow him.

Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about the King’s invitation to salvation.

Sermon Points:
  1. Don’t refuse the King’s invitation (Matt 22:1-3)
  2. Don’t rebel against the King’s invitation (Matt 22:4-7)
  3. Do respond to the King’s invitation (Matt 22:8-10)
  4.  Be clothed in righteousness by the King’s invitation (Matt 22:11-14)

a.   V. 1: The Kingdom of God is like a wedding banquet. The tragedy in this parable is the strange refusal of invited guests to attend the royal celebration. The king sent three invitations and all were rejected.
b.   V. 3: they persistently refused, the tense is imperfect. This was the first invitation. They didn’t simply reject the invitation. They returned it. They were indifferent toward it.
c.   In Middle East culture of the time, a preliminary invitation is sent without time or date, then follow-up with definite invitation when the feast is ready. These sent back the first invitation before second came.
d.   Bidden KJV – interesting choice of wording. Indicates God’s desire to have us participate in his divine mercy. Israel had been bidden throughout the OT. Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has bidden men to come to the feast.
e.   APPLICATION: Don’t reject Christ out of indifference. Those who are called but fail to accept Christ will die in their sin.

a.   The King graciously repeats the invitation. Dinner was ready, but invitations received with mockery. Indifference had turned to scorn. What a strange response to the King’s mercy!
b.   To refuse the invitation of the King and murder his messengers was as foolish as committing suicide. But this was not just any king. It was the King of Glory.
c.   These two invitations demonstrate the two-fold attempt of the Lord to win Israel. The OT represents the first invitation. Soon the feast will be prepared. He will die and rise again, but His servants will be treated cruelly. For example, Stephen and James martyred (Acts 7, 12).
d.   The King sent forth his army and destroyed them and burned their city. Fulfilled in 70AD in the destruction of Jerusalem when the Roman general Titus ransacked and burned the city (Matthew 23:34; Luke 21:20-24).
e.   APPLICATION: Are you in danger of rejecting the King? Friend, that is foolish. The ramifications are eternal. Don’t reject the King out of rebellion. Those who are foolish enough to mistreat God’s mercy will feel the heat of God’s wrath.

a.   The King’s mercy seeks others.  He invites as many as will come to the feast. “Whosoever will may come.” Gentiles responded to the call to “Whosoever will”
b.   Everyone invited, anyone willing to attend the feast. Both good and bad were invited. Everyone needs an invitation for all have sinned.
c.   APPLICATION: This king is still sending out invitations to his Son’s wedding banquet. One of these days when Jesus returns to set up his kingdom on earth at Jerusalem, that wedding banquet will be held. One of the things that is said at the Passover meal is the hope that next year they will celebrate with the Messiah in Jerusalem. Will you be there? Are you sure? Have you responded to your invitation? Today I stand to invite you on behalf of this King. At the end of this service, I will give an invitation for you to respond to the King’s invitation. You might need to respond today. Today is the day.

a.   These poor and needy were provided fitting clothes by the king to wear at the feast. It was the custom in the Middle East to provide robes for guests to be dressed alike.
b.   Two words used here for not (οὐκ and μὴ, 22:11-12). First use of οὐκ marks simply a fact – he didn’t have it on. The second, μὴ, suggests that not only did he not have it on, but he intentionally, willfully did not wear it out of rebellion.[3]

c.   The king says to him, “It is not only a fact that you do not have on a wedding garment; you do not intend to have one on. You are determined not to have one on. . Your presence signifies your rebellious heart against my name and the order of this feast.” The Scripture says he was speechless.

d.   Outer Darkness – one of the images Jesus uses for eternal punishment. This kind of person is not in the kingdom.

e.   ILLUSTRATION: Not a Dying Thief but a Living Thief: A minister was talking to a man who professed conversion. "Have you united with a church?" he asked him. "No, the dying thief never united with a church and he went to heaven," was the answer. "Have you ever sat at the Lord's table?" "No, the dying thief never did and he was accepted." "Have you been baptized?" "No, the dying thief was never baptized and he went to heaven." "Have you given to missions?" "No, the dying thief did not, and he was not judged for it." "Well, my friend, the difference between you two seems to be that he was a dying thief and you are a living thief."[4]

f.    Symbolism of garment: “The wedding garment is essentially a habit of holiness and righteousness. I repeat it: inward, spiritual happiness, developed by the presence of God, and the consciousness of heaven, into visible manifestation – this is the wedding garment which Christ beholds and approves in the saved.”[5]

g.   Lockyer: “How many there are who want a place in the church without regeneration and obedience, without salvation, without giving Christ service and acknowledgement. Is it not the sin of presumption to take, without salvation, the title and hopes of the saved? Every sinner must comply with the King’s terms if they are to experience the King’s grace.”[6]
h.   The man without the wedding garment seems to say that “I am my own master. I will work my own way to heaven.”
i.     The man wearing the garment provided says, “I am not my own; I have been bought with a price, my righteousness is like filthy rags, but the Lord is my righteousness.”
j.    Indeed, Paul exhorts us to “put on Jesus Christ.” The garment is a Christ-covered life and as a result a character consistent with the Gospel we profess.
k.   Jesus concludes with “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 20:16; 22:14), or D.L. Moody: “Few are choice.”
l.     The word polloi is a Semitism for “Everyone” or “All.” (Cf. LXX Psalm 109:30 and 1QS 6:8-11).[7] The point is that here is a universal invitation to all who would come, not to a pre-elect group. Few are chosen and “elected” by their decision to follow Christ.

m. APPLICATION: Don’t try to be religious and bypass repentance and Christ’s gift. It is a fool who will walk among religious people dressed as a religious person but not having the real clothing of salvation. Anyone dying without that garment can never participate in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, which is only for saved sinners called saints. Everyone who dies without Christ is thrown into blackness of darkness forever.

n.   You see, we are talking about an invitation from the King. What king exactly are we talking about? Who is this King? S.M. Lockerbie put it this way in 1976 in Detroit.

o.   This “King was born King. The Bible says He's a Seven Way King. He's the King of the Jews - that's an Ethnic King. He's the King of Israel - that's a National King. He's the King of righteousness. He's the King of the ages. He's the King of Heaven. He's the King of glory. He's the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that's [the] King.

p.   Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don't try to mislead me. Do you know my King? David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of the shore of His supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

q.   He's enduringly strong. He's entirely sincere. He's eternally steadfast.
r.    He's immortally graceful. He's imperially powerful. He's impartially merciful. That's my King.

s.    He's God's Son. He's the sinner's saviour. He's the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He's honest. He's unique.
t.    He's unparalleled. He's unprecedented. He's supreme. He's preeminent
u.   He's the grandest idea in literature. He's the highest personality in philosophy. He's the supreme problem in higher criticism. He's the fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He's the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That's my King.

v.   He's the miracle of the age. He's the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He's the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously.
w.  He supplies strength for the weak. He's available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He's the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people.

x.   He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek. That's my King.

y.   Do you know Him? Well, my King is a King of knowledge. He's the wellspring of wisdom. He's the doorway of deliverance. He's the pathway of peace. He's the roadway of righteousness. He's the highway of holiness. He's the gateway of glory.
z.    He's the master of the mighty. He's the captain of the conquerors. He's the head of the heroes. He's the leader of the legislators. He's the overseer of the overcomers. He's the governor of governors. He's the prince of princes. He's the King of kings and He's the Lord of lords. That's my King.

aa.                His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough.

bb.                His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you . . . but He's indescribable. That's my King.

cc.He's incomprehensible, He's invincible, and He is irresistible. I'm coming to tell you this, that the heaven of heavens can't contain Him, let alone some man explain Him.

dd.                You can't get Him out of your mind. You can't get Him off of your hands. You can't outlive Him and you can't live without Him.

ee.                The Pharisees couldn't stand Him, but they found out they couldn't stop Him. Pilate couldn't find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn't get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn't kill Him. Death couldn't handle Him and the grave couldn't hold Him. That's my King.

ff.  He always has been and He always will be. I'm talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He'll have no successor. There's nobody before Him and there'll be nobody after Him. You can't [bribe him. You can’t buy his vote.]. You can’t impeach Him and He's not going to resign. [You can’t vote him in, and you can’t vote him out. He has always had his throne, and he will always have his throne because he enthroned himself.] That's my King! That's my King!

Invitation: That’s why you should receive his invitation with joy. You need to put on His righteousness through giving up your own effort to be good enough. You need to receive his free gift of eternal life. Today consider yourself to be called and invited. Now receive Christ and receive his righteousness in exchange for your feebleness and become a child in the King’s festive home.

You see, God created this world in perfection. But we human beings brought sin into the world and corrupted it. All the ills you see stem from that original sin. Worst of all, the relationship men and women had with God was forever broken because God cannot compromise his pure character with sinful human beings. But God sent the perfect sacrifice, a perfect God-Man, his only Son Jesus Christ, to die for us on the Cross to pay of our sins. Then he rose from the dead to demonstrate his kingly authority over all things, even over death itself. Now the default position is for everyone to pay for their own sins themselves, but if you would submit yourself to the King, to give control of your life to Christ, to make him your Lord, he will become your Savior and save you from eternal punishment in hell. He will give you new life now, and you will have power over death through him.

Now would you bow your heads with me. I want to lead you in a prayer to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If you sense the Lord’s conviction on you and He has touched your heart, I want you to pray this prayer with me. You only receive Christ once, not over and over. If you prayed to receive Christ one time and it was fake or you are not sure, then make sure you respond to the King’s invitation today.

Lord, I admit to you I am a sinner. Please forgive me of my sin. I submit myself to you as my King, my Lord. Please save me from my sin and myself. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for saving me and giving me new life in you today. In your name, Jesus, I pray, AMEN.

[1] Herbert Lockyer, All the Parables of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963), 228.

[2] The differences between Matthew and Luke are significant. In Luke the story starts with "a certain man," but here it is the King. In Luke it is a great supper, but here it is a wedding banquet. In Luke there is one invitation, but here there are two. In Luke the invited guests make excuses, but here they refuse and turn violent. In Luke the invited guests are passed by, but here they are destroyed. These are major differences. Each passage fits its context very well, and so if one were to conclude that it was originally one story, there would have to have been significant editing to make the parable work in the contexts. Matthew’s parable is harsher than Luke’s, but then it comes later in Jesus ministry in Matthew, at a time when he was facing severe opposition from the Jewish leaders. It is most likely that this parable was a separate story, not a re-telling of the one in Luke, although in some ways the two are similar.

[3] G. Campbell Morgan quoted in Lockyer, All the Parables, 232. A.B. Simspon agrees. A.B. Simpson, The Christ in the Bible Commentary (Camp Hill: Christian Pub., 1993), vol. 4, 117-8.

[4] 2000+ Bible Illustrations on e-sword.

[5] Lockyer, All the Parables, 231-2.

[6] Lockyer, All the Parables, 232.

[7] Michael Wilkins, “Matthew,” Clinton Arnold, ed., Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), vol. 1, 135.