And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come….” Matthew 22:1-3 (Read 22:1-14)
The chief priests and Pharisees, along with many of the Jews, rejected Jesus and would not trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins and a place in God’s eternal kingdom. God’s servants, the apostles and prophets, proclaimed to them the way of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus; but they made light of God’s gracious invitation and even mistreated and killed God’s servants.
With the parable of the king who made a marriage supper for his son, Jesus illustrated to his hearers how they were rejecting God’s gracious invitation to have a part in His kingdom and partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb through faith in His own dear Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rev. 19:7ff.). They were too busy with their own lives and religious service and they made excuses and did not come and partake of the salvation God provided in His Son who He died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose again in victory.
As described in Jesus’ parable (v. 7), the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants were judged by God for their rejection of Christ Jesus. The city was destroyed and burned with fire, and its inhabitants were either killed or carried away captive by the Roman armies in 70 A.D.
The LORD God has also sent His servants out to invite others to have a part in His eternal kingdom through faith in Christ Jesus. The Gospel has been preached, not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles around the world and many have heeded God’s gracious invitation. Through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross, many have received forgiveness of sins and will partake of the eternal joys of heaven.
And they are clothed, not with their own sin-tainted righteousness, but with the perfect righteousness of Christ. It is only for the sake of Christ and His innocent sufferings and death in their stead that they are acceptable to God and have a place in His everlasting kingdom (cf. Eph. 1:6-8).
But, like the man who came without a wedding garment, there are also those who try to enter God’s kingdom by their own sin-tainted works rather than by simply receiving the righteousness of Christ which is ours through faith in Him. Such, who attempt to partake of God’s eternal kingdom clothed in the spotted garment of the flesh rather than in the righteousness of Christ, will be cast out into the darkness and eternal torment of hell.
God’s gracious invitation continues to go out to all — us included — but only those who, by the grace of God, repent and heed the Gospel call, trusting in Christ alone for eternal salvation, will be saved (cf. Mark 16:15-16; John 3:18,36; Eph. 2:8-9).
As Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Christ died for all and the Gospel invitation goes out to all, but only those who by the gracious working of God’s Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament heed the Word, repent of their sinful ways, place their faith in the shed blood of Christ Jesus and continue in that faith will be saved (cf. 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 1:3ff.; Acts 13:48).
Therefore, as we learn from Jesus’ parable, we also need to beware lest we begin to take that invitation lightly and neglect the Word and Sacraments or we begin to depend upon our own sin-tainted righteousness rather than trusting alone in the perfect righteousness of Christ Jesus our Savior.
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress; midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head. Bold shall I stand in that great Day, for who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully thro’ these absolved I am from sin and fear, from guilt and shame. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #371, Verses 1-2)
[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]