Study Guide for Matthew 22 - Jesus Answers and Asks Difficult Questions
A. The parable of the wedding feast.
1. (Mat 22:1-3) The first invitation is refused.
1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and 3 sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come."
a. Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables: Jesus continued to explain to the religious leaders and to the listening crowds the danger of rejecting Him.
b. A certain king who arranged a marriage for his son: A wedding was (and often is today) the most significant social event of a person's life. The wedding of a prince would be a spectacular event, and an invitation would normally be prized.
i. This parable is similar in many ways to one found in Luke 14:15-24. Yet the differences between the two parables are even more evident. "Most preachers will use a good story more than once, and in different forms to suit different contexts, and there is no improbability in Jesus' doing likewise." (France)
c. They were not willing to come: It seems strange that those invited refused an invitation to a royal wedding. This illustrates the principle that there is no logical reason God's good gifts are refused.
2. (Mat 22:4-7) The second invitation is refused and the king reacts.
4 "Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding."' 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city."
a. Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared": The king persisted in making the invitation as attractive as possible. He really wanted those invited to come.
i. Barclay says that when a great social event happened in the Jewish culture of that day, people were invited but without a set time. On the appropriate day, when the host was ready to receive the guests, they sent out messengers to say that all things were ready and it was time to come to the feast.
ii. "So, then, the king in this parable had long ago sent out his invitations; but it was not till everything was prepared that the final summons was issued - and insultingly refused." (Barclay)
iii. All things are ready is the message of the gospel. You don't come to God's feast and prepare your own meal. He has made it ready for you; you come to receive.
b. But they made light of it and went their ways: The reaction of those invited made no sense, but it does give an accurate description of the reaction of many to the gospel. Many made light of it; others go back to their business.
i. "The rebel seemed to say, 'Let the King do as he likes with his oxen and his fatlings; I am going to look after my farm, or attend to my merchandise." (Spurgeon)
c. He was furious ... and he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers: The king rightfully brought judgment upon the offenders. Not only did they reject his invitation, but they also murdered his messengers.
i. This was a prophecy of what would happen to Jerusalem, the city whose religious leaders so strongly rejected Jesus and His gospel.
ii. "The divine retribution that fell upon Jerusalem ought to convey a solemn warning to us, in these days when so many are making light of the Gospel in our highly favored land. No nation ever yet refused the Gospel without having some overwhelming judgment as the consequence of its daring criminality. May God prevent such awful calamity by his almighty grace." (Spurgeon)
3. (Mat 22:8-10) The third invitation.
8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests."
a. As many as you find, invite to the wedding: The king was determined that he would not have an empty banquet hall, so an invitation was given to all who would hear.
b. Those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both good and bad: When the first and second invitations were so dramatically rejected, the third invitation was made more broadly. All were invited, whether good or bad.
i. In this sense, we can say this is a parable about grace. Those who were invited - and who came - were utterly undeserving of the invitation, much less the wedding feast itself.
4. (Mat 22:11-14) The man without a wedding garment.
11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."
a. When the king came to see the guests: The king carefully examined his guests, to see if they all wore the garments that were customarily offered to those attending a wedding feast.
b. A man there who did not have on a wedding garment: The man without a robe was conspicuous by his difference. He came inappropriately dressed and the king noticed.
i. There is debate among commentators as to if it was customary for a king or nobleman to offer his guests a garment to wear at such an occasion. There seems to have been some tradition of this among the Greeks, but no evidence of the practice in the days of Jesus.
ii. "Evidence that the host in first-century Palestinian weddings furnished appropriate attire is inadequate and probably irrelevant to what Matthew is saying." (Carson)
iii. Quite apart from who supplied the proper garments, the man clearly was out of place. "Is it fit to come to such a feast in thy worst? In the leathern coats, in the tattered rags and menstruous clouts of wretched old Adam?" (Trapp)
iv. "He came because he was invited, but he came only in appearance. The banquet was intended to honor the King's Son, but this man meant nothing of the kind; he was willing to eat the good things set before him, but in his heart there was no love either for the King or his well-beloved Son." (Spurgeon)
v. He was speechless: "He was muzzled or haltered up, that is, he held his peace, as though he had had a bridle or a halter in his mouth. This is the import of the Greek word here used." (Trapp)
c. Cast him into outer darkness: The man who did as he pleased at the wedding feast, instead of honoring the king and conforming to his expectations, suffered a terrible fate.
i. "He had, by his action, if not in words, said, 'I am a free man, and will do as I like.' So the king said to the servants, 'Bind him.' Pinion him; let him never be free again. He had made too free with holy things; he had actively insulted the King." (Spurgeon)
ii. The larger message in both parts of the parable is clear. "Many are invited; but some refuse to come, and others who do come refuse to submit to the norms of the kingdom and are therefore rejected." (Carson)
iii. This parable demonstrates that those indifferent to the gospel, those antagonistic against the gospel, and those unchanged by the gospel share the same fate. None of them enjoyed the king's feast.
d. For many are called, but few are chosen: This statement of Jesus, in this context, touches on the great working together of the choices of man and the choosing of God. Why did they not come to the wedding party? Because they refused the invitation. Why did they not come to the wedding party? Because they were called, but not chosen.
MT 22:1-14 Lesson - HFBC
I. The Invited
"Once 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." (22:1-7) HCSB: p. 1655: 22:1-7 "This parable is an allegory of Israel's history. The king represents God; the son, Jesus; the slaves, the prophets and possibly Jesus' disciples; and the wedding banquet symbolized the great messianic feast that Jews expected to share with Messiah at the beginning of His rule. Those who rejected, persecuted, and murdered the slaves represent OT Israel and their rejection of the prophets. The destruction of the city represents God's judgment on those who refuse to honor His Son. This destruction, like the penalty described in verse 13, portrays eternal punishment but may also hint at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70."
A. Friends- Who does one invite to a wedding feast? Quite obviously one invites friends and relatives. This parable answers the question concerning why the friends of God (His chosen people) refuse the invitation and complete strangers (Gentiles) are invited to attend. However, even the invited guests must have the correct apparel (12-14, cf. Gal. 3:27).
B. Messengers- The 'slaves' obviously represented the OT prophets, NT apostles, and, by extension, us as His present day Ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are inviting people to attend the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9). An annual report by the Center for Studies on New Religions (Censur, 11/2016) revealed that 90,000 Christians were martyred for their faith last year, averaging one martyr every six minutes.
C. Foes- While the initial invitation came from a gracious King, rejection brought fiery judgement (Romans 6:23).
II. The Gathered
"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." (22: 8-10)
A. The Worthy- Those initially invited were 'not worthy' based on their rejection of the king's invitation. The invitations issued 'where the roads exit the city' went to 'everyone they found, both evil and good.' The evaluation again was not based on character but on the willingness to accept the king's invitation. It's a reminder that the only worthiness we have before God is based on our receiving Christ's invitation (Revelation 3:20).
B. The Wedding- The fact that "The wedding banquet was filled with guests" speaks to the broader audience who accepted invitations. In context, this audience included Gentiles, people never before considered to be God's friends. This extension of God's favor beyond the Jews is a part of the 'mystery' Paul addressed in Romans 6:25-26.
III. The Unprepared
"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." (22:11-14) HCSB: p.1656: 22:8-12 "The guests represent Jesus' disciples who are invited into the kingdom despite their unworthiness. The improperly dressed guest represents a false disciple (7:15-23). His presence seems initially to honor the Son, but his refusal to wear festive garments dishonors Him. Similarly, many false disciples appear to honor Jesus by calling Him 'Lord,' but their lack of true faith and repentance offends Him." 22:13-14 "Many people are invited to God's kingdom, but only those who repent and honor the Son are chosen to enter."