The gospel of Matthew was primarily written to reach the Israelites. This is why he emphasizes Christ’s Kingship and authority. Christ had been confronted in Chapter 21 by the chief priests and elders while he was teaching at the temple “ By what authority are You doing these things? ” He stumps them with his answer and goes on to relate the three parables as evidence of His authority.
In the third parable Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is like a wedding banquet arranged and prepared by God. The King sent His servants to the wedding guests, but they were not willing to come. He sends a second invitation telling them about the preparations He has made for the wedding. They responded in three ways. Two made light of the invitation and went their own way, one to his work and the other to his own interests. The others seized the King’s servants, and harassed, and killed them. The King in his anger sent his armies to destroy the murderes, and burn up their cities.
At first reading, Christ is reprimanding the Jewish people for refusing God’s invitation to be His people. They are taking the privilege too lightly, being caught up in their own affairs. They have even killed God’s messengers, like John the Baptist.
Coming from a long, proud Christian tradition, this part of the parable could also be about me. Often we tend to take our privilege of the knowledge of God for granted. We consider His Will more lightly than our own work. Our own interests and daily activities may keep us too busy to acknowledge Him.
Mr. Wright comments on how this parable has been argued to be too harsh for our gentle savior. Yet it is clear evidence of Jesus’ kingship.It would have been shocking to his first century listeners. “ … if the king himself had invited you to the wedding of his son… well, then you would be planning for months what to wear, what gift to bring, how to make sure everything was right on the day.”
In the second part of the parable the King told his servants that those who were invited were not worthy. He sent his servants to the highways to call whoever was found. Christ is speaking of the world outside the nation of Israel that will be invited to join in communion with Him.
I find it interesting that the highways are mentioned, because who would be on highways. Are these people who were curious and may have hoped to see the wedding festivities from afar; or were they on their way to the kingdom even though they had no knowledge of the King?
The third part of the parable is about the wedding itself. The King notices a man who is not dressed appropriately, and asks him why.I have heard that in biblical times the King’s wedding guests would be given a special garment. It was expected that they would wear it for the occasion. The King is angry because the guest has doubly insulted Him. The guest has declined His gift, preferring his own inadequate garments. In today’s world, it would be like being invited to be a part of the Presidential wedding party and opt not to wear the outfit that matches the bridal party. Naturally the insulting guest is bound and thrown out.. The poorly dressed guest is one who has heard Christ’s call; and is attracted by what God provides without repentence. He can not let go of his old nature, or put on the garment of salvation.
If we hear God’s call and appreciate His goodness, we must also prepare ourselves. We need to be clothed with His righteousness for the Banquet we will one day have in His presence. Forgiveness and salvation are God’s free gift. We have to give up the tattered rags of our old nature that block the Holy Sprit from clothing us in heavenly garments. “All are welcome, but all must dress appropriately.”