The Son’s Wedding Feast — a Year Before

I have several unfinished series running, so when I have time, it’s never difficult to find something to write!  I left my “Passion Tuesday” series for a while, but I decided to return to it now, posting a summary for the sidebar menu a few days ago, and with this article continue with our look at the Scripture record of the Tuesday before Christ’s crucifixion.

The Son’s Wedding Feast

The last Crucifixion Tuesday event I wrote on was “The Parable of the Husbandmen” and Christ’s teaching on the Chief Cornerstone.  Then, in part because of a similarity to what comes next, “The Parable of the Son’s Wedding Feast,” I stepped back to look at the cursing of the fig tree, an event that bridged Monday and Tuesday.

The similarity lies in the fact that both the fig tree and this parable find some of their significance in parables Jesus taught a year earlier, recorded in Luke 13-14.  Both deal with judgment on a rebellious nation.  As we turn from the tree to the parable, let’s look first at the text of the parable itself.

Matthew 22:1-14

1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.
5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.
10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

The Earlier Parable

One year before, Jesus had taught another parable which was very similar, the Parable of the Great Supper.

Luke 14:15-24

15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

The similarities between the parables are obvious — too obvious for Jesus’ disciples to have missed them, too obvious for it just to have been a “coincidence.”  Jesus wanted to bring this first parable to mind, at least for His disciples, in telling the second.  By doing so, the important contrasts between them are highlighted.

Here in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus responded to a man who said those who could “eat bread in the kingdom of God” would be “blessed” — happy, fortunate.  Jesus responded with the parable to teach that being part of the kingdom feast was not a matter of riches or special qualifications.  It was simply a question of one’s response to the invitation.

The Second Parable Applies the First

Remember the context?  As always, we better understand the Scriptures in context, so we’ll take a quick look back.  Much of this has been discussed in previous articles (see Crucifixion Tuesday Summary, with links to all articles in the series).

  • On “Palm Sunday” the people acclaimed Jesus as Messiah, but the religious leaders scoffed and objected.  Jesus entered the temple, “looked around about upon all things” (Mark 11:11), and returned to Bethany.
  • The second day, Jesus returned.  He cursed the fig tree as a “parable in action” (illustrating judgment on faithless Israel) and cleansed the Temple.
  • On Tuesday, after His Messianic actions, the Jewish leaders challenged His authority.  Jesus cited John the Baptist as evidence that God alone had authorised Him.
  • Next, Jesus used parables to teach what the Old Testament said about Him and those who rejected Him.

All of this had one central message.  The Messiah, God’s Son, had come, but the Jews had rejected Him, their leaders planned to kill Him, and they would bear the consequences of their unbelief and rebellion.  Today’s parable has the same central truths.

The first parable, the Great Supper, taught that the feast is for those who would come, whether rich or poor, whether societal outcasts or not.  The second parable, the Son’s Wedding Feast, applies that truth to unbelieving Israel and its unbelieving leaders.  It is obvious that if someone won’t come to a feast, they won’t be there, but Jesus here teaches that Israel’s condition is particularly bad.

Israel had been told an invitation was coming (the Old Testament prophets), then the servants came twice to let them know when the time came (probably a reference to John the Baptist, then to Jesus and His disciples).  They responded with violence.

The Great Feast The Son’s Wedding
Invitations: One Invitation Rejected
Three Invitations Rejected
Responses: Apathy Apathy and Violence
Consequences: Missed the Feast Murderers Destroyed, Their City Burned
The new guests: Not those first invited Not those first invited

In the context of all that has come before, this second parable is stark.  Jesus has just spoken of Israel’s rejection and its consequences, and now He elaborates further.  They are the ones who have rejected the invitation of the King of Heaven, even turning to violence against Him and His servants.  They will be destroyed, and their city burned — precisely what happened when Rome’s armies took Jerusalem in AD 70.

The wedding feast, though, will go on.  It is not God who needs Israel.  He can find guests for His feast elsewhere, and the Gospel will go to the Gentiles.  He will send His servants, the apostles, to bring the outcasts into His Son’s wedding feast.  It is Israel who needs God, not the other way around, and they are the ones who bear the consequences of their unbelief.

Next:  The Son’s Wedding Feast — and Jewish Fables

Series Summary with links to further articles: “Passion Tuesday” / Crucifixion Tuesday

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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