Book Reflection // November 26, 2022 // View Series
The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice
Chapter 7 // Mathew 22:1-14
Of the parables we have looked at thus far, this is may be the most straightforward and clear. It speaks of the gracious gospel invitation that God gives to each and every person along with the arrogant and prideful response of the men and women who received this invitation. At the heart of this message is a picture of God’s wrath and the eternal punishment in hell of those who refuse to come into the king’s presence wearing only the righteousness of Christ. This parable is a stern warning against our self-righteous folly and arrogant attempts to be our own God.
Those Who Would Not Come
The unique aspect of this parable is that those who were invited willfully refused to come. It’s not a matter that they could not come, but simply a matter that they would not come. The king sent invitations to the wedding banquet long before he actually sent his servants to call those who were invited. It wasn’t a matter of people being uninformed or caught off guard. No, when the call came that the banquet was ready, the people refused to come. When the first call was rejected, the king sent his messengers a second time to tell of what had been prepared for them at this banquet. Their responses were either indifferent or violent. The people who were invited either ignored the messenger or they abused these messengers and killed them. This is an important element of the parable because it reveals the heart attitude of the people toward their king. Why did they ignore and mistreat the messengers? “If the invited guests felt that way toward the servants, they obviously felt that way toward the king who had sent them and would have seized, mistreated, and killed him if they could have.”
There was another group of people who received the invitation who did not openly express their hatred of the king but revealed their heart with their excuses for not coming. All of the people who were invited had received the invitation previously and should have been prepared and ready for the banquet. Yet, this group paid no attention and dishonored their king by making worthless excuses. Not one of the excuses that were given held any weight. Each of the excuses could have waited until after the banquet and were inconsequential compared to the wedding feast of the king’s son. Instead of indifference, they should have been eagerly anticipating this time of celebration. They should have arranged and ordered their life in preparation of this momentous event and invitation from the king.
Those Who Came
The story doesn’t end with an empty banquet held without a crowd. The king proceeds to bring in people from the streets and lanes to feast at his banquet. “God must be honored. Jesus must be effective in His saving work.” There is a marked difference between the types of people that were brought to the banquet in place of those invited. These were the poor and lowly. These were the beggars and the vagrants. These were people who were honored to be in the presence of the king and feasting at his luxurious banquet. All of those at the banquet were grateful and joyful. They were there to celebrate and honor the king for his good will toward them. “That which looked as though it would defame the king turned out to his honor, and the wedding was furnished with guests.”
The Man Without a Garment
The parable seemingly is over at this point, but Jesus goes on to describe the man who is at the banquet without a wedding garment. “What is the wedding garment? It is the righteousness of Christ, provided freely to all who will repent of sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.” The king confronts the man, and the man is speechless before the king and had no answer. This man was just pretending and going through the motions in attempt to appear as though he belonged, when in actuality he did not. He had deluded himself into believing that he belonged at this feast but had never taken upon himself the wedding garment. Each of us must examine ourselves and our hearts for this same self-delusion. Are we counting on our good record and expecting God to be satisfied? In that day where we stand before the holy and righteous One, our folly will become apparent to us and we will be speechless. There will be no excuses left because it will all become apparent in the presence of the Lord. Our only answer to God in that moment… “None at all, as far as I myself am concerned. But Jesus died for my sins and has given me the covering of his own righteousness in which alone I dare to stand before you. I come at your invitation and in that clothing.”
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, (ESV)1 Corinthians 1:28