"Many are called, but few are chosen." All are invited, only some choose.
Matthew 22:1-33 from the daily reading in the One year Bible
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 4 Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16 And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17 Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.
23 On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, 24 asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; 26 so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. 27 Last of all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.”
29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” 33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
In today’s text Jesus says: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” It is important that it is a king who gave the wedding feast. The comparison then is that God is extending an invitation to those who would come to celebrate His Son, Jesus. Twice the king sends his slaves out to call those who are invited and twice the invitation was rejected. Then the text says: “Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.” So all were invited, the rich and the poor, the good and the evil. All received the invitation. Many were called to the celebration. Then the story Jesus tells, the comparison to the kingdom of heaven, takes a turn that may seem difficult for us to understand. Jesus says: “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
It seems uncharacteristic, even unfathomable that one who responded to the invitation would end up being cast out and rejected. Is that really an illustration of the kingdom of heaven and the heart of the Father? Here is where it is important that the one giving the feast was a king. If we understand the cultural practice of the time, we will find that the king himself would provide the proper clothes for his guests so that they would be equal and acceptable in his sight. For some reason this one who was cast out did not put on the clothes which were provided for him. He chose instead to appear dressed in his own garments. With God, He too has provided the acceptable garments for those who respond to His invitation. Isaiah 64:6 says: For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. Romans 13:14 says: Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 3:22 says: Righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. God offers the righteousness of Christ to all who believe. Jesus says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) Our own works are not acceptable in God’s sight. They are like filthy rags. It is only by believing in Christ, by accepting the redemption of the cross, by putting on His righteousness, that we are made acceptable in God’s sight. Those who respond to God’s invitation, but choose to come wearing their own righteousness will be rejected, no matter how pleasing their attire in the sight of men.
It also says, in today’s text: Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. Many people today also try to trap Jesus by His own words. They twist scripture. They take it out of context. They manipulate God’s word and what Jesus says, to support their own ideas. They pit the righteousness and compassion of God against His truth and justice, as if they cannot coexist. Jesus says: “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? … Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” Many people are confused that the word of God can include such things as slavery, social, racial and gender inequality and still be considered of value in directing us today. The thing is that Jesus did not come to change the politics of the time. He came to: to preach the gospel to the poor… to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18) Jesus came not to change governmental laws, not to change society or cultural standards, but rather to change the hearts of people. Jesus came to call sinners to repentance. It did not and does not matter whether they were rich or poor, free or slave, male or female; regardless of national or ethnic background, Jesus came to call people to God’s kingdom. Those today, who focus on the impact that faith should have on government or society, like the hypocrites in Jesus day, miss the importance of the value and the power of a changed heart. In Luke 15:7 Jesus says: “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Today’s text ends with the Sadducees trying again to trap Jesus with a question regarding eternal life in heaven. Jesus says: “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Understand, Jesus does not say we become angels, but that we are like angels in that we are no longer concerned with or bound by the things of earth. In heaven all of the political, social and cultural inequity will no longer exist or affect us. We will finally be fully free. We will fully love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind. We will worship Him forever, dressed in the righteousness of Christ, having been called and having chosen to believe, we will celebrate with God and Jesus.
Heavenly Father, thank You that in Your compassion and justice You invite everyone to come. Thank You that in order that no one would have a greater opportunity based on their background or their social status, You provide the same attire for all who respond, the righteousness of Christ. Thank You for not changing the laws of man, but rather for writing Your law on our hearts. Thank You for the power of God, the power to change my heart, that I can be free of all the bondages and encumbrances of this world; Free to worship and serve You. Amen.