The Lord’s words in Matthew 22:1-14 are directly aimed at Israel, but are very useful for us all. The kingdom of heaven is not heaven. It is more correctly translated as “the kingdom of the heavens”. It is here on earth where mixture can occur. There will be no merely professing person in heaven - see verse 11. Heaven is the seat of rule for the kingdom - just as Britain was not the British Empire; it was the centre of power.
God desires that Christ is to be suitably honoured - hence the wedding feast..
Verse 3 – the bondmen were perhaps the twelve; the persons invited were certainly the people of Israel. They “would not” come. John the Baptist had invited them in Matthew 3:2, and his message was that the kingdom was near and repentance was necessary for it.
Verse 4 – the other bondmen were perhaps the seventy. There is a more intense call; all things are ready.
Verse 5 – the many were indifferent. People prefer land and business (the things of this world) to that which God provides. Land and commerce has its place; these things are not evil, but the heart can become attached to them and keep us from God’s better things.
Verse 6 – the rest were hostile; they persecuted the messengers - such as the apostles - and even put them to death.
Verse 7 – because they proved themselves unworthy, many of the Jews were killed and Jerusalem utterly destroyed (by Titus in 70 A.D.)
Verses 9 and 10 – Their going out into the highways means that the preachers were sent to the Gentiles, the nations, i.e. you and I. Finding the “evil and good” means that persons with good and bad reputations accepted the invitation and were brought to repentance.
Verses 11 and 12 – The custom must have been that those invited were provided with a wedding garment free, because the man had no excuse. If he had been too poor to buy one, he would have said so. Rather, he was insolent. He had refused the King’s offer and had come in clothing of his own choice. This is like Cain and Abel. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground – that which he had cultivated. Abel knew that a life had to be given up for his sake - a life that was not chargeable with his sin.
The man was speechless. When persons are before the Lord in judgment, none will have any excuse.
This man was a mere professor. He was not genuine. This is what we have today. In the area of Christendom, the places in the world where people say that they are Christians, many are not real. This is what is meant by this little picture of the kingdom; it is the public or outward side of it - what it has become in the world. The current political upheavals in Kenya have shown that some who have taken on Christian words and practices - even baptism and the Lord’s supper - are not real.
The man may have looked very good to others, but the king’s eye detected him. The king asked him a question. This is an effective way to deal with issues. It causes persons to search their own conscience for the answer. God asked Adam: Where art thou? Then: What have you done?
Finally, in verse 13, things are not left undecided. The outer darkness indicates to me that persons in hell will not be in the light of God, nor will there be any fellowship with others. They will be alone and without God. The weeping is not that of repentance but of remorse. The gnashing of teeth is an evidence of their hatred of God. This was evidenced at the death of Stephen, when they gnashed their teeth against him.
Verse 14 – the gospel has gone out to many, but not all have responded.
We get the summary in Romans 3:22, “righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ towards all, and upon all those who believe”.
MM April 2008