1. The parable at Lk. 14:16-24, though similar to Mt. 22:1-10, is not the same parable as Mt. 22:1-14. The Lukan parable was spoken earlier in Perea in the house of a Pharisee. Mt. 22:1-14 was spoken during holy week (Tuesday). As any good teacher does, Jesus repeated Himself from time to time.
2. At Mt. 21:23 to 22:14 we have a series of three parables. They are a reply to the arrogant questions asked at Mt. 21:23. Christ is warning the Jews that, unless they cease their enmity, judgment will come upon them. Jesus' predictions have come true.
3. Vs. 2 speaks of the Kingdom of heaven. It pictures mankind being invited to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ Who was sent by the Father to die for their sins.
4. In vss. 3-7 Jesus pictures the Gospel call to the Jews, God's Covenant people since the days of Abraham, 2000 BC. Again and again God sent His prophets and then His Apostles to invite His Covenant people to hear the call of Jesus Christ: "Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is here." The Gospel is pictured as a great marriage feast.
5. Vs. 5 pictures the ridiculous excuses which many people gave. They preferred the things of this world to the call of the Gospel. They had no time to hear Jesus and His messengers.
6. Vs. 6 pictures not only the crucifixion of Jesus but also the persecution of the Prophets and the Apostles. The book of Acts not only tells of the early preaching of Jesus' resurrection but also the persecution of Stephen and the Apostles. All of them died violent deaths, except the Apostle John.
7. Vs. 7 pictures the terrible destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans, namely Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. This is described for us by Josephus the Jewish historian. At that time the Jews were scattered over the whole earth. The arch of Titus, erected in memory of this victory of Rome over Jerusalem, can still be seen in Rome.
8. Compare vs. 8 with Acts 13:46: "Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said 'It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you (Jews) first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.'"
9. He who rejects the Gospel and mistreats the Lord's messengers makes himself unworthy of everlasting life. But he is not worthy by meritorious works by the grace of God in Christ. The worthy person believes only in the grace of God in the Gospel message.
10. Vss. 9-10 picture the preaching of the Gospel among the Gentiles. At Acts 13:47 Paul and Barnabas quote the prophecy of Is. 49:6 where the preaching of the Word to the Gentiles is foretold. The expression "the good and the bad" in vs. 10 of our text is said from man's point of view. All have sinned and therefore are not approved by God. All are equally sinful. But among people some show this more than others. All are equally invited by the Lord.
11. In ancient times wedding guests were given proper robes to wear at the feast. In the parable this denotes the righteousness of Christ which a believer has by faith in Jesus. See Php. 3:7-11. But we know that there are hypocrites in the church, weeds among the wheat. Vss. 11-12 of our text are a stern warning for us. We must examine ourselves lest we fall short of the glory of God on Judgement Day. Vs. 13 pictures God's rejection of the hypocrite, the impenitent, the person who does not wear the robe of Christ's righteousness.
12. The last vs. reads: "Many are called but few are chosen." The majority of people will be lost. They will go to eternal destruction. Only a few, the penitent, the true believers, will be chosen.
13. The purpose of this text is that all people, both Jews and Gentiles, should examine themselves and say: "Am I truly a Christian?"
THEME: Mankind's Reaction to the Lord's Wedding Invitation
God wants to betroth lost mankind to Himself. That's why He sent His Son. The Gospel is the invitation to this great wedding feast. Since Abraham's time (2000 BC) God has been inviting mankind. But the majority of mankind reject the invitation. Jesus said: "Many are called but few are chosen." Where do we stand?
I. MANY ARE CALLED
A. This invitation is the heart of the Old Testament.
For 2000 years in the OT, from Abraham to Christ, God sent Moses, the Prophets, the Psalmist to call His covenant people to the great wedding feast of the Gospel. At. Ps. 19:4 David said: "Their sound has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world." Paul quotes this at Rom. 10:18 of the preaching of the Gospel. Vss. 3-7 of our text picture the Gospel call to the Covenant people, the Jews. Again and again He sent His messengers with the message: "Come because all things are ready. Come to the feast." God had done everything necessary for their salvation.
B. This invitation is the heart of the New Testament.
At vs. 8 we have the turning point. God's covenant people rejected His repeated invitation. Jesus said: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you, how often I wanted to gather you together as a hen gathers her chicks! But you refused." Mt. 23:37. God's covenant people proved themselves unworthy. In vs. 9-10 Jesus pictures the preaching of the Gospel also to the Gentiles. At Acts 13:46 we read: "Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said 'It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you (Jews) first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles'." Since that time missionaries have gone to all continents gathering all, both good and bad, without distinction.
C. This invitation offers the individual the proper robe, the correct dress at the feast. This robe is mentioned in vs. 12. It is the robe of Christ's righteousness of which Paul speaks at Php. 3:7-11. We cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven without the forgiveness of sins which covers us sinners with Christ's righteousness.
II. BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN
A. The majority of the Jews rejected the wedding invitation. They persecuted or killed God's messengers: Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, the twelve prophets. Vs. 5 pictures the disinterest of the people. The things of this life, the pleasures of this world meant more to them than the invitation into the Kingdom of heaven. Vs. 6 pictures how the people mistreated, insulted and killed God's messengers. This led the Lord to judge the people severely. In 707 BC the northern ten tribes of Israel were scattered over the earth. In 600 BC the southern two tribes were carried to Babylon and the temple was destroyed. Then came John the Baptist whom they killed. Then came the great Son of God whom they crucified.
B. Have the Gentiles fared better? By no means. Look about you. The majority of the people turn down the invitation with weak excuses. They have no time for God's Word. They are too busy with the things of this world. And they persecute God's messengers. It has been said that during the 1900s, the twentieth century, more people were persecuted and killed for Jesus' sake than during the nineteen centuries since Christ walked on the earth. Furthermore, many do not want the robe of Christ's righteousness. They lose heaven because they think they are good enough without confessing their sins and believing the Gospel. They will be thrown into outer darkness.
Let us examine ourselves. Where do we stand? The Lord is saying: "Come, for all things are now ready." Are we listening? It is very important. It's a matter of life and death.