The Invitation of the Kingdom

Matthew 22:1-14

October 6th, 2019

Main Idea: Only those who respond appropriately to the invitation of the king will enter the Kingdom. 

I. Rejecting the Invitation (22:1-7)

This is the third consecutive parable Jesus tells in response to the chief priests, elders, and religious leaders (cf. 21:23). Theses stories seem to be purposely escalating:

  1. A father asks his two sons to work (21:28-32)

  2. A landowner asks his tenants to gather what is rightfully his own (21:33-46)

  3. A king is inviting guests to a royal wedding for his son

Jesus is clearly comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to a wedding feast; ancient weddings were a multi-day party and celebration, and a royal wedding would have been a national event and the finest of all occassions.

When the king sends his servants to call those who had been invited, they shockingly “would not come.” The king is extremely patient and sends out another round of servants, but they “paid no attention.” They were preoccupied with their own interests (farming and business) and turned down the invitation of a lifetime. 

Others respond with extreme hostility and treat the servants “shamefully and killed them.” The religious leaders (those who are the first guests invited in the parable) are going to do this very thing toward Jesus in a mere 3 days from the telling of this story.

“It is not as if God is offering some piddling meal in exchange for all. That would certainly be worth making excuses to avoid. The feast God offers in Christ is not the lentil stew, good for a temporary quelling of a hunger pang, but all the attendant honors of the birthright, good for an eternity of unassailable joy. When people reject the gospel, it is precisely because they do not perceive the reality of the kingdom it proclaims.” ~ Jared Wilson

Have you responded to the invitation of the King? The banquet feast is set before us because of the finished work of Christ, and we are invited to join the party. Have you delayed and made other priorities more important?

Acts 17:30–31: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

II. Receiving the Invitation (22:8-10)

In the face of this rejection, the king now sends his servants out to the “main roads” to invite others. The king is now inviting the non-elites of society; they would be the ordinary, poor, and outcasts (Lk. 14:21), all unlikely recipients of an invitation to a royal wedding. 

This is precisely what was happening as Jesus brought the message of the Kingdom: the religious elites continually rejected his message but those who knew their desperate need for mercy and forgiveness responded with joy. 

  • Matt. 21:31: … Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” 

  • Matthew 9:11–13: And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Those who are “worthy” were the people who saw this invitation from the king as an undeserved honor and a privilege, and who joyfully drop everything to join the party. The Kingdom of Heaven will be full of people who can’t believe they are in the party. 

“Those ladies and gentlemen who were first invited, if they had come to the wedding, would have seated themselves there in a very stiff and proper manner… Did you ever attend a breakfast or a dinner of beggars? Did you ever see a company of very hungry people feeding to their heart’s content? They make a merry clatter; they are not muzzled by propriety; they are glad at the sight of every dish... The dull monotony of respectability knows no joy like that which comes to poverty when it feasts to the full at the table of bounty.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

  • Do you have this kind of joy?

  • Who are the people around you who need this kind of joy and an invitation to the wedding feast?

III. Robed in Righteousness (22:11-14)

In the ancient world, a wedding garment would have been very expensive, often upwards of 2-3 month’s wages. The assumption of the story is that the king himself provided the garments for these guests who came right away to the prepared feast.

The gospel in the parable of the wedding feast is this: Jesus invites us to come as we are, but the king must clothe you at the door. You have to enter wearing his robes, not your own. 

There is a seemingly throwaway comment made earlier that helps emphasize and explain this ending. As the servants go out to the main roads  and gather all they could find, they invited both bad and good” (22:10). It is not your moralism or religion that gets you in, and it is not your immorality or your irreligion that keeps you out. The gospel is something else altogether!

The imagery of “clothing” throughout the Bible helps us see the beauty of this: 

  • Genesis 3:7, 21: Adam & Eve cover themselves inadequately with fig leaves, but the Lord provides a better garment through the death of another to cover their shame

  • Isaiah 61:10, 64:6: Though our own good deeds are a “polluted garment,” the Lord clothes with “the garments of salvation” and with the “robe of righteousness”

  • Revelation 7:9, 19:13: A great multitude is gathered before the throne of God in white (pure) robes, because the kingly robe of Jesus has been dipped in blood. 

The entrance to the feast and the continuing enjoyment of it is not about being “good” or “bad” but instead about being robed with the righteousness of Christ, evidenced by a changed life full of repentance and faith. 

This man who is caught without the appropriate garment makes no defense for his actions. He insulted the king by presuming upon his kindness; he assumed he could come and stay just as he was. But this confuses the true nature of the invitation (cf. Rom. 2:4-5).

“There is a difference between this wide-open invitation and the message so many want to hear today. We want to hear that everyone is all right exactly as they are; that God loves us as we are and doesn’t want us to change. People often say this when they want to justify particular types of behavior, but the argument doesn’t work. When the blind and lame came to Jesus, he didn’t say, ‘You’re all right as you are’. He healed them. They wouldn’t have been satisfied with anything less. When the prostitutes and extortioners came to Jesus he didn’t say, ‘You’re all right as you are’. His love reached them where they were, but his love refused to let them stay as they were. Love wants the best for the beloved. Their lives were transformed, healed, changed.” ~ N.T. Wright

Many are called, but only a few accept the invitation and respond appropriately; the wedding feast is laid before us: Have we accepted the invitation? Are we dressed in his righteousness alone? Are we wearing and trusting something else?