We have been discussing the parable of the Marriage of the King’s Son as recorded in Matthew 22:1-14. We say that this parable speaks of the preaching of the gospel as the glad tidings of salvation, in this case announcing the marriage of Christ, the Crown Prince, to His Bride, the Church. This announcement includes a call to the citizens of the kingdom to come and honor the Son by their presence at the wedding feast. The true citizens of the kingdom will consider it their bounden duty to heed this call in love and reverence for their God, but they will no less count it as a privilege to be present at this festive occasion to rejoice with Christ in His coronation, sit in His presence and share in His bounties at His table. The Psalmist of old already declared: “O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee.”
We also noticed last time that the gospel message is sent forth wherever God in His good pleasure will have it proclaimed. God sends forth His Word. He ordains and qualifies His messengers. He lays upon them the mandate of the Gospel, so that as His ambassadors, they have only to say: “Thus saith the Lord.” He never leaves this important work to the whims and fancies of mere man. But He also sends those messengers where He in His good pleasure will have His gospel proclaimed. In the old dispensation God limited the gospel preaching almost exclusively to the Jews, causing the line of generations of believers to run through the natural seed of Abraham. Only occasionally were .others drawn by the gospel from without, but then to be ingrafted into Israel. Also at the time of Jesus’ public ministry the gospel was still limited to the narrow confines of Israel as a nation. When Jesus did go beyond the borders of Judea and Galilee, He always reminded His disciples that the time was coming when the outreach of the gospel would also extend to the Gentiles, according to the promise that Japheth would dwell in the tents of Shem. Therefore, in the parable we are discussing, Jesus speaks of going into the highways to bring in whatever is found, that the wedding chamber may be filled with guests. But even then, when in the new dispensation the Gospel is proclaimed to the ends of the earth, it still reaches out only to those to whom God in His good pleasure will send it. It is only recently, and that as one of the signs of the hastening end of the ages, that through the printed page and the modern means of transportation and communication the gospel has been preached to the far ends of the earth.
We still have two matters to consider:
First, that the preaching of the gospel always serves the purpose for which God intends it.
Second, that the glory of God is fully attained as the fruit of the preaching of the gospel.
First, then, the parable teaches that the gospel message always serves the purpose for which it is sent. This is evident already from the fact that the preaching is described as a call.
This should not be overlooked, especially because the common interpretation of this parable simply assumes that a general, well-meant offer to all men promiscuously is taught here. A wedding implies an invitation, especially as we think of it in our own lives. An invitation can seemingly be accepted or rejected, according to the sentiment of the individual who receives the invitation. No one can compel the invited guest to come if he does not care to do so. Yet even in our own relationships to one another, this is not entirely true. We do feel an obligation of love or of deference to attend a wedding, sometimes even in spite of other plans that appeal much more to us. But this is the wedding of the King’s Son. That must not be overlooked. And the King sends forth the announcement. So that when He announces the wedding feast, He calls with royal authority to come. God calls. And there is divine authority in His call.
Now throughout the parable the word “call” is used, even when our Authorized version translates the word as “bid” or “bidden.”
Notice in verse 3, “And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden (to call the ones already having been called) to the wedding.
Notice also verse 4, “Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden (those having been called), Behold, I have prepared my dinner. . . .”
And verse 8, “The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden (called) were not worthy.”
And also verse 9, “Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid (call) to the marriage.”
The King has the prerogative to call. Since He calls to the wedding, those who love the King will gladly come. For them it is an invitation to enjoy a long anticipated privilege. But there is always the element of obedience to their King that also enters in. Anyone who reads this parable will be impressed by the fact that the emphasis does not fall upon those guests who gladly heed the call of their King, but rather upon those who reject that call in wicked rebellion and unbelief.
This is true of the man mentioned toward the close of the parable, who pretended to heed the call of the King, but refused to wear a wedding garment. I shall refer to him again, so now I mention him only in passing. The main emphasis falls upon the subjects of the kingdom who “would not come.” We read: “But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.”
The fact that Jesus stresses the wicked reaction of the subjects of the kingdom must be explained in the light of the occasion on which this parable (or sermon) was spoken.
It was the last week of Jesus’ public ministry; on Tuesday, to be exact. The Lord had compared the chief priests and rulers to wicked husbandmen, who beat the servants and killed the owner’s Son, so that they could claim the vineyard for themselves: He told them personally in no uncertain terms, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Wherefore the chief Priests and Pharisees sought to lay hands on him, but they feared the multitude. Very fittingly chapter 22 begins with the significant statement, “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables.” So this Parable of the marriage of the King’s Son is an answer to those wicked men who rejected the glad tidings, because they were the thieves who were plotting to claim the kingdom of God for themselves.
Throughout this parable Jesus is referring to all those who reject the glad tidings of the gospel. Unquestionably He is speaking of the Jews of the old dispensation as the subjects of the kingdom who make light of the preaching of the gospel and refuse to come. Outwardly they were citizens of the kingdom of heaven; historically they were born and lived in the line of the covenant; openly they professed to be Abraham’s seed; but the preaching of the gospel revealed their inmost hearts. They hated the King and despised the King’s Son. They loved the things of this world, and showed it plainly by having no time for the King. They were so busy with their farm or with their merchandise that they could not take time off for the marriage. Some even availed themselves of this opportunity to give vent to their hatred against the King by killing the servants.
In a few words, as our Lord Himself interprets their actions, they proved that they were not worthy. Actually the man who scorned the use of a wedding garment, considering his own garments of self-righteousness good enough for the banquet hall of the king, also proved that he was unworthy. The gospel serves its purpose also in the wicked. It reveals the wickedness of their rebellious hearts. For the word of God never returns void. It draws the elect, it condemns the reprobate; it converts and works faith in the regenerate, it hardens the unregenerate. It is exactly this which causes Paul to say with perfect peace of mind, after he had preached the gospel of Jesus Christ far and wide, “Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?”
Therefore it is true, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, that the glory of God is fully attained as the fruit of the preaching of the gospel.
God is justified in the wicked, No one can accuse Him of cruelty when He sends forth His armies to kill those murderers who defiantly reject His call, kill His prophets, and even nail His Son to the cross. No one can consider God unjust in His judgment upon the world, that He destroys by fire, both when He burns the proud cities of the Man of Sin and when He gives every sinner his just retribution in hell. No, no one can condemn the King for casting out the self-righteous sinner who with a pretense of piety enters where the wedding guests are assembled, but despises the righteousness of Christ. He also receives his just condemnation, for he is cast into outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And God is also justified in His people. This is evident from the fact that “the wedding was furnished with guests.” God gathers His own. The true citizens of the kingdom hear the announcement of the wedding of the King’s Son and gladly heed the call to prepare themselves and to come to the marriage. Even those out on the “highways” of the world, who were not of the commonwealth of Israel nor of the natural seed of Abraham, and who in that sense were never considered to be citizens of the kingdom, are also called, and the elect are gathered in. The servants were told to gather in as many as they may find. We might expect to find the word “willing” here, so that we would read that the servants gathered in. as many as were willing to come. This would still be correct in the sense that God makes His elect willing to come by the power of regeneration and conversion and faith. But nevertheless Jesus does not refer to that. He speaks of those that the servants find. And the servants find those who heed the outward call of the gospel. They “gather good and bad,” that is, some who have the distinct privilege of being in the line of the generations of believers, whom we might consider “good.” But God also gathers others from among the lowliest of men, whom to all outward appearances we would classify as unfit material for the kingdom, “bad.” Obviously none is good in himself. None can come of His own free will; none can come unless the Father draw him. And none is worthy to be in the Bridal feast except he be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Salvation is solely by grace; God’s gift to the objects of His eternal love.
The Lord Himself concludes the parable by saying: “For many are called, but few are chosen.” The conclusion we should expect if salvation were offered for us to accept is, that many are invited, but few are willing to comply with the invitation. Then God never attains His glory. The wedding chamber is only partially filled. God’s love is foiled, Christ’s honor is bedimmed by man’s unwillingness, and eternity proclaims the praise of those who accepted the gospel offer. The very thought is thoroughly dishonoring to God.
God forbid. The wedding is indeed furnished with guests. Not a seat is left empty. The King rejoices in the coronation of His Son, and the elect join in to honor their Lord, that to God may be the glory forever and ever.
They sing the song of Moses and the Lamb: Saved by grace in wonderful, sovereign good pleasure, that God may be all in all!