This parable of the wedding-feast, which is related in verses 1-14, is one of very great importance. In its immediate application, it unquestionably pointed to the Jews; but we may not confine it to them exclusively. It contains heart-searching lessons for all those among whom the Gospel is preached.
The salvation of the Gospel is compared to a wedding-feast which celebrates the marriage of the Lamb and His beloved Bride. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a complete provision for all the needs of man’s soul. There is a supply of everything that can be required to relieve spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst. Christ offers to take us into union with Himself; to restore us to the family of God, as dear children; to clothe us with His own righteousness; to give us a place in His Kingdom; and to present us faultless before His Father’s throne, on that Great Last Day. In short, the Gospel is an offer of food to the hungry, joy to the mourner, a home to the outcast, and a loving Friend to the lost and lonely. It is glad tidings! For herein, God offers – through His dear Son – to be peacefully reconciled with sinful man.
The invitations of the Gospel are wide, full, broad, and unlimited! Jesus tells us in the parable that the King’s servants (His Gospel-ministers) said to those who were bidden, “All things are ready: come unto the marriage.” There is nothing lacking on God’s part for the salvation of sinners’ lost souls. No one will ever be able to say on Judgment Day that it was God’s fault that he was not saved; for the Father is ready to love and receive them, the Son is ready to pardon and cleanse their guilt, and the Holy Spirit is ready to sanctify and renew them.
Sadly, the Gospel is rejected by many to whom it is offered. Those whom the King’s servants invited to the wedding “made light of it, and went their way.” Alas! There are thousands of hearers of the Gospel who derive no benefit from it whatsoever. They listen to it Sunday after Sunday, and year after year; and yet their souls are not saved. They feel no special need of the Gospel. They see no special beauty in it. Perhaps they do not outright hate it, or oppose it, or scoff at it; but they do not receive it into their hearts. They like other things far better. Their money, their lands, their business, or their pleasures are all far more interesting subjects to them than their souls. Oh dear! It is an awful state of mind to be in; but unfortunately, it is awfully common. Multitudes will find themselves in hell – not so much because they openly broke the Ten Commandments, as because they made light of the truth of the Gospel. Christ died for them upon the cross, but they neglect Him.
The parable also teaches us that all false professors of religion will be detected, exposed, and eternally condemned on the Last Day. The wedding-feast was finally furnished with guests, even though those who were first invited refused to come. But when the King came in to see them, he “saw a man which had not on a wedding garment.” He asked him how he was able to get into the feast without one, and He received no reply. Then He commanded the servants to “bind him hand and foot and take him away.” There will always be some false professors in the Church of Christ, as long as the world stands. Deceivers and hypocrites will never be entirely excluded from the ranks of those who call themselves Christians. But there will be no deception on the Last Day. None except true believers shall sit down at the wedding-supper of the Lamb.
Let us learn wisdom from the solemn pictures of this parable. We ourselves are among those to whom the Word is spoken, “All things are ready, come to the marriage.” Let us be sure that we do not refuse or neglect Him Who thus speaks to us. Let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober. Time hastens on. The King will soon come in to see the guests. Are we wearing the wedding-garment of Jesus’ pure and spotless righteousness? Have we put on Christ? That is the grand question that arises out of this parable. May we never rest until we can give a satisfactory answer!
After the Lord Jesus had delivered this parable, the Pharisees began to consult together how they might catch Him in His speech (verses 15-22). And they soon devised a plan. They sent some of their disciples with the Herodians to ask Him a very tricky question. (The Herodians were a party among the Jews who promoted a cheerful and entire subjection to the Roman emperor and his deputy Herod; they made it their business to reconcile people to that government, and pressed everyone to pay tribute to it.) The matter which these crafty questioners brought to Jesus was about the paying of the Roman tribute. They knew that this question would certainly bring Him into one of two difficulties. If He were to pronounce the tribute unlawful, He would give offence to the Roman government. And if He were to pronounce it lawful, the Jewish people would be angry with Him for supporting the government which they so much hated. Here, however – as on other similar occasions – Jesus could not be outwitted or tricked! He found a way to silence them at once, and to teach them and us an important lesson. The Roman money, stamped with Caesar’s image, was commonly circulated in the country. And this use of it was an acknowledgment of Caesar’s sovereignty. Therefore, when He made them show Him a coin, and asked, “Whose is this image and superscription?” – they were reminded that the money itself was, in this sense, already Caesar’s. And they were not able to resist the force of His conclusion: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Well did these tempters deserve the name which Jesus gave them: “hypocrites!” For under the pretense of consulting Christ to ask His opinion, they were all the while intent on tempting Him. And most profitably does our Lord here teach us that true religion always promotes, instead of hindering, our dutiful obedience to the laws and magistrates which Providence has appointed – unless they require something that is plainly at variance with God’s Word and will.
The Jews all worshiped Jehovah; but among them, there was a variety of sects. Two of these were the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and one of the chief things about which they were at variance was the resurrection of the dead – whether or not they would rise again. As we read in the Book of Acts (23:8): “the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.” Here, the Sadducees were intent on proving themselves to be right in their opinion; and in order to support their position, they quoted to Jesus a passage that was taken from the Law of Moses (Deut. 25:5). In order to keep up the succession and distinction of each Jewish family, it was ordained that if a man died and left a widow without children, his brother should marry her. So the Sadducees made up a ridiculous and highly unlikely case of seven brothers who were thus wedded in succession to the same wife (verses 23-33); and then, as if they were triumphantly proving that it was impossible for there to be a resurrection, they asked, “Whose wife shall she be of the seven?” But again, our Lord had an answer for them; for in this doctrine, they erred – “not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God!” For when we pass away from this life, we enter a heaven which far exceeds the utmost happiness of this present world; and in that place, “they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God.” Christ showed them that in the Scriptures, they might have found significant hints that those who die are dead to the world, but alive with God. For how else, He argues, could God call Himself “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” after all three were dead – unless He were likely to name Himself as the God of the dead, and not of the living. Here, then, our Lord very wondrously brings “life and immortality to light!” (2 Tim. 1:10) The purest and highest pleasures of earthly life – even those of love and marriage – are not worthy of a place in the consummation of that bliss which we shall enjoy in heaven!
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they should have been more reluctant to renew their temptation of our Lord. But immediately “they were gathered together” (verse 34) – seemingly provoked by the Sadducees’ failure to persevere so much the more in their own wicked undertakings. So one of the Pharisees now artfully proposed to Jesus a question that was much debated among themselves: “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Whichever way Jesus answered this question, they figured that He would be forced to offend someone. And they would have also been glad to have His sanction for their false notion that they might be excused – by obedience to some singular great command – in the neglect or violation of the rest.
But Jesus would not allow Himself to be drawn into their snare. Instead of preferring one single commandment over another, He answered with a quote from Deuteronomy 6:5, which contains the spirit of every commandment, and the principle upon which all must be obeyed. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This, “He adds, “is the first and great commandment.” No particular commandment will exempt us from attending to the rest, but this one constrains us to obey all. “And the second is like unto it.” For although they did not ask which was the second, He adds – from Leviticus 19:18 – another similar text: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” This was a rule for all their duty toward man, just as the first was a rule for all their duty toward God. Our duty in life is no less than to love the Lord with all our hearts, and our neighbor as ourselves. Let us, therefore, aim at true Christian love in all things. Let us all remember how God first loved us; and thereby may we learn how to love God Himself, and also how – for Christ’s sake – to love one another!
After answering this question, Jesus turned the tables on them and asked a question Himself; and this question was intended to convince them that they did not understand their own Scriptures, nor the words of their own King David, relating to the Messiah. They were very much aware that Messiah was to be the Son of David. “How then,” He asks, “doth David in spirit” – that is, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – “call him Lord?” If Christ was to be a mere Man, Who would not exist until many ages after David’s death; how could His forefather call Him Lord? They could not answer this question, for the only way to solve the riddle is to acknowledge that the Messiah is not only the Son of Man, but also the Son of God and David’s Lord. Thus the Pharisees were put to silence, as the Sadducees had been before them. And thus was shown forth the ability of God to silence and confound all perverse questionings of His Word.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, that Your gracious Gospel provides entirely for all the needs of man’s soul, for therein is a supply of everything that can be required to relieve spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst. We give thanks that this provision is freely bestowed upon us by Your love – for You offer to take us into union with Yourself; to restore us to the family of God, as dear children; to clothe us with Your own righteousness; to give us a place in Your Kingdom; and to present us faultless before Your Father’s throne, on that Great Last Day! Amen.
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illustration by LUMO – The Gospels for the Visual Age | Lightstock.com