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Matthew 22:1-14 2BC

"The Invitation"
Background Passage-Matthew 22:1-14
Lesson for April 8 - 9, 2017
Dr. James Patterson


A well-meaning man decided one summer to set up a baseball camp for the neighborhood boys. He rented a local field, purchased the finest equipment, and even procured the training services of some very well-known former major league ball players. He posted the invitation to attend this camp at the neighborhood school, spread the news by word of mouth, and called as many potential attendees as he had phone numbers for. Time passed, and very few had indicated an interest in attending. Now, the first day of training had arrived.

The coaches went door-to-door, telling the boys to get to the field right away. Some of the young men laughed in the coaches' faces. Others were too busy playing video games or talking on their cell phones to even come to the door. This disinterested response in such an incredible sports camp was beyond the comprehension of the generous sponsor.

Everything was ready for the event, but the neighborhood kids were not coming. Therefore, the host told the other organizers to go beyond the neighborhood and invite all the young people they saw to participate in this training. They found young men on sandlot fields, vacant lots, and even on the streets. This second group of ball players recognized the incredible opportunity and arrived by the hundreds. The field was full of participants; there was excitement in the air. The camp was going to be a success, after all.

As the host went from one area to another, he came across a young man in shorts and flip flops. "Why are you dressed like that? Go suit up. Get your glove!" The boy ignored the host, as he was just there to see what all the buzz was about and had no interest in learning to play baseball.

"Security," called the host. "Escort this young man outside the gate and make sure he does not re-enter! We don't have time for such nonsense."
Today's passage discusses a much more important event than a baseball camp. An event with eternal consequences was treated as irrelevant and with disrespect by a large number of people.


Matthew 22:1-7

Jesus had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Shortly upon His arrival, religious leaders confronted Him, questioning His authority. These leaders had long been at odds with Jesus, but their outrage toward Him had intensified after His forceful cleansing of the Temple.

Responding to their challenge, Jesus shared three parables with them. Today's lesson focusses on the third and final parable, which foretold what would happen to those leaders and to all others who rejected Christ.

22 1Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables: 2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent out his slaves to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn't want to come. 4 Again, he sent out other slaves, and said, 'Tell those who are invited: Look, I've prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'

5 "But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the others seized his slaves, treated them outrageously and killed them. 7 The king was enraged, so he sent out his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned down their city.

The host of this banquet was a king, symbolizing God the Father. The marriage was between the groom (God's Son, Jesus), and the bride (the genuine believers that made up His church). The banquet invitation symbolized God's will that all the people should receive eternal salvation by accepting His Son's divinity. The original invited guests represent God's chosen people, the Jewish nation (especially the Jewish leaders who did not accept that Jesus was the Messiah).

To most people, this invitation to sit with the royal family would certainly have been the event of a lifetime. A most excellent menu had been prepared. No expense had been spared. However, the first set of messengers were ignored. The very patient king then sent a second group of servants to express the urgency of the moment. The food was ready. The table was set. It was time for everyone to drop what they were doing and head for the feast-now! What could be more important than this summons from the king?

Unfortunately, many of the invitees had superficial excuses as to why they could not attend. They claimed pressing business; however, could not their farms and shops be attended to another day? Perhaps some of the original guests expected to get another invitation in the future. Or maybe some thought that the king would delay the party until they decided to arrive. In any case, most people chose not to come. Some made light of the invitation. They prioritized their day-to-day living above this extraordinary opportunity. This was a serious insult to the king and his son.

Others went beyond even this contemptuous behavior, seizing the king's servants, humiliating them, and killing them. The fate of the messengers was like the fate of God's prophets-up to and including John the Baptist. The popular response to them also ranged from disinterest to murder. Were the guests in this story blind to the power and authority of the king? Did they expect there would be no day of reckoning?

The king had heretofore shown mercy and patience to his invited guests. Now the time had come for judgment. Soldiers soon arrived in the town to demonstrate the depth of the king's wrath. The king ordered the troops to kill the murderers and to burn their city to the ground. No one had been able to predict the extent or the timing of the king's justice, but it was likely more severe and sooner than most expected. Even now, anyone who rejects the King's invitation will face a day of accountability, and it will likely be sooner and more severe than they imagine.


Matthew 22:8-10 8

Then he told his slaves, 'The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.

9 Therefore go to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.' 10 So those slaves went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests.

The king had a problem. Here was a banquet, literally fit for himself, but there were no guests. The king remarked that those on the first guest list did not deserve to come to the party.

Subsequently, he sent more servants out to the parts of the city where the most bystanders could be found. Their instructions were to "invite everyone." This would include the poor, the loiterers, and the outcasts of society. There was no distinction between "good" people and "bad." Imagine everyone's astonishment when they learned that they were going to the king's banquet. This opportunity was beyond their wildest imaginations.

In this parable, these outcast guests represented the Gentiles. First generation Christians likely recognized that this parable was already coming true, as many Gentiles had already responded to the salvation message. Now that the party was open to all, and they filled the tables.


Matthew 22:11-14 11

But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. 12 So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.

13 "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are invited, but few are chosen."

As the king circulated among the guests, he noticed a man who was inappropriately dressed. Even last-minute guests were expected to prepare themselves in a suitable manner for a wedding feast. It was also standard practice that a host would keep festive robes on hand for people who lacked proper attire.

At first, the king was gracious to the man, to the point of calling him, "friend." He gave the man an opportunity to explain why he was not suitably attired.
Did he have no other clothing? Did he turn down the hospitality robe, if such was offered? To decline the robe would have been considered very insulting to the host.

Unfortunately, the man had no explanation for his behavior. His silence was indicative of his guilt. This character represented those who want the benefits of salvation without undergoing any transformation-the people who claim to be believers but who never genuinely repent of their sins and who never accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.

In this parable, the robe stood for the righteousness that Christ provides us through His sacrificial death. To refuse the robe was to refuse both Christ and His sacrifice-thus disqualifying a person from the Kingdom.

The king had no choice. He ordered the man to be bound and taken to a remote place, where he could ponder the results of his disrespectful behavior. Shamed, dishonored, and alone, the man suffered the awful, self-inflicted consequences. Weeping and teeth-gnashing were the signs of the extreme anguish and the eternal regret of those who reject Christ.

Yes, the man had been invited, but he came on his own terms rather than accepting the protocols of the invitation. Others accepted the invitation and put on the proper clothes (spiritual state) for the occasion. They attended the wedding on the king's terms. God's invitation goes out to everyone, but not everyone welcomes Christ into their lives. Thus, "Many are invited, but few are chosen."


Essentially, in today's parable Jesus taught an important lesson. He affirmed that God invites everyone to a personal relationship with Him, but only the people who respond with obedient faith will be accepted.

The first group of invited guests was more interested in their day-to-day concerns than in coming to the banquet. Many people today demonstrate the same misplaced priority. The invitation goes out to them, but they are too wrapped up in the "here and now," instead of in the "hereafter." Many sinners do not consider the consequences of their faulty lifestyle. Living only for themselves, they disregard both the messengers and the One who sent them.

No one can consider himself to be worthy to live in fellowship with the King and His Son. All mankind-both those doing "good" as well as those involved
in "evil"-are under the curse of sin. However, God has devised a plan of salvation available to all. When we accept God's grace by faith, He transforms us into citizens worthy to join His kingdom.

The good news is that everyone is initially eligible to receive the gift of salvation. The Lord is "no respecter of persons." This window of opportunity stays open until a person makes a final conscious decision to reject it. It is only after this rejection that such people are determined to be unfit to join the Kingdom. It has nothing to do with their original state of character. Many who had been living lives filled with bad choices have turned things around after making the decision to follow Christ. Having rejected invitation, Son, and King, the first group of invited guests in the parable was judged to be "not worthy."

In some ways, we can also view the servants in the story as modern day evangelicals. These are the people who follow the Great Commission and who strive to bring the salvation message to as many people as possible. We should note that just as the king sent the invitation to everyone, neither can today's messengers pick and choose to which groups of people they will share the gospel. "Everyone, even the good, needs to be saved. Anyone, even the evil can be saved." (Explore the Bible: Leaders' Guide, Spring, 2017, p. 68)

Unfortunately, not everyone will be saved. Like the invited guests in the parable, some of the people repeatedly refuse the plan of salvation outright. The Bible tells us that the stream of invitations will not go on forever.

Others, like the ill-attired man, want to go to Heaven, but they don't want a Christ-based salvation. They seek some other way, but there is no other way. Their commitment to Christ is lukewarm, at best. Only people who come to God on His terms will escape eternal wrath.

Throughout history, many people have heard and understood the message of salvation. Tragically, relatively few of them have based their eternity on this Sovereign plan. They continue to reject the calling until they die. Like the "speechless" man in the parable, many people will have no answer when standing before the throne of judgment.

Have we accepted Jesus' invitation for salvation AND lordship?

Or does the Holy Spirit knock and knock and knock while we stay busy with other "important" business? Do we make excuses why we are not coming to the Lord now, although we plan to "later?" Are we also lukewarm?


Heavenly Father: We pray that anyone in this room today who is living outside of Christ will come to repentance now. We also pray that You will equip Your believers with all the tools necessary to encourage our non-believing family members and others to accept Your plan of salvation. Please keep us energized and enthusiastic in this endeavor. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.