After the parables of the two sons and the tenants, Jesus continued explaining the kingdom of Heaven to the Pharisees and the elders who were questioning His authority using another parable of a king’s wedding banquet.
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.Matthew 22:2-3
An invitation from a king would be something that the common folks would never miss out on but for some reason, the people whom this king had invited, refused to come. Maybe these folks did not think of themselves as commoners and thought their work is more important than attending the banquet of the king. Maybe they did not appreciate the fact that the king sent his servants to invite them and did not come himself. Even today, most people get offended by impersonal wedding invitations and refuse to attend. Or maybe they did not respect the king or even hated the king to bother to respond to his invitation.
The above reasons can be applied to God’s invitation to His eternal banquet. Maybe we are too busy or don’t want to listen to His servants or maybe we just hate God and do not want to come into His fold. The Israelites rejected God’s invitation through countless prophets who came before Jesus. They were busy building their walls and their temples that they had ignored God’s invitation. Some actually hated God and rebelled at every chance they got. What is our reason for rejecting His invitation? Regardless of our reason to refuse His call, our end will be the same as we will be thrown into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 22:13).
They ignored the invitation from the king and some even killed his servants. Jesus kept bringing up the fact that Jerusalem was not recognized for its loyalty towards God but as serial murders of prophets that were sent to the city. Jesus was warning them to change their ways through the parable as we see the king burning the city, the same would happen to the precious city of Jerusalem years later.
The Invitation is Now Extended to Everyone
Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’Matthew 22:8-9
Jesus came down to extend the invitation of His Father’s banquet to everyone as Israel had rejected and rebelled against God by prostituting themselves to the pagan cultures that surrounded them. They even killed His Son on the pretence of avoiding a riot and discomfort to their captors, the Roman government.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.Matthew 22:11-12
The invitation is open to all but the requirements from us remains the same since the creation of mankind. We were created in the image of God and were made with the purpose of worshipping Him. The king would have provided the clothing and everything that his guests needed to be presentable during the banquet. But still, someone chose to be callous and dishonoured the king. God has given us His own Spirit as a comforter and counsellor to tackle the problems of this life. But we ignore His help and continue to tackle the problems our own way and forget the very purpose of our existence. Just like the earlier set who rejected the invitation, the people who have half-heartedly accepted the invitation will also have the same fate.
Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’Matthew 22:13
Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar
On hearing the three parables relating to them, the Pharisees plotted to trap Jesus in His words. They came together with the Herodians and posed this question before Jesus to trap Him either way He responded.
Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?Matthew 22:17
An impossible alliance is formed between two opposing political points of view. At the time of crucifying Jesus, bitter enemies Herod and Pilate also became friends. We think it is God who unites us with our enemies, but satan is the reason for such unions that seek to destroy God’s plans. The Pharisees’ hatred for Jesus superseded any resentment they harboured for the Herodians. Similarly, in our life, satan tries to take advantage of our rebellious nature towards God to unite us with like-minded people and together we plot against God’s will.
Jesus knew the reason behind the unholy alliance and promptly asked them to bring him a denarius. He asked them to identify whose inscription is there on that coin minted by the Roman empire and everyone inevitable responded saying, Caesar. Jesus replied to them saying,
“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”Matthew 22:21
We get bogged down with the rules and regulations and often our conversations with our pastors or even God are just doubts clearing sessions of which rules we can break or not break. Can we eat this food? Can we mingle with these people? Can I give less than a tenth of my income to God? We waste time in pointless argumentative discussions about what God wants from us when all the while God has always made it clear what He desires from us. God does not delight in our man-made sacrifices and offerings but wants our hearts devoted to His will. He gave all of us a heart when He breathed life on us but we have trouble giving Him a place in our hearts. Let us forget everything else and come before God with our hearts wide open to listen to His words and do His will.
- Why would someone refuse to come to the king’s banquet?
- If he had invited the downtrodden then why is the king angry when they do not have wedding clothes?
- Usually they would never mingle with the Herodians but why are the Pharisees collaborating with them?
- How can we differentiate between what is God’s and what is the world’s in our lives?