Come to the Wedding Feast

Jesus came into the world to be a light to the world. He came to preach the good news about the kingdom of God. He came to bear witness to the truth. Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost” and to call sinners to repentance. 1Timothy 1:15 states,” this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” Jesus says “the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Who makes up the “many” and how does one become part of this “many?”

In Matthew 22:14 Jesus makes the statement, “for many are called, but few are chosen.” Jesus makes this statement in the context of the marriage supper of the Lamb. In this story Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to the story of a king who prepared a feast to celebrate the marriage of his son. He instructed his servants to send out special invitations to come to this great feast. Many are invited to the feast and one by one, they all found excuses not to come. The King even sent more servants to remind and encourage those who had received invitations to come to the feast. Once again, they declined the invitation; it was not that they could not come; they simply refused to do so. The King then instructed his servants to go out into the highways and byways and to invite “all they found” to come to the feast.

In looking at this passage it is clear that Jesus’ reference to those who received invitations was a reference to the Jews. The King is no doubt a reference to God Himself and the son who was getting married, a reference to Jesus. In this story there is also a picture of man’s depravity painted for us. Instead of accepting the invitations, these men rejected those invitations. To further demonstrate man’s depravity Jesus said they not only refused to come, some killed the messengers who brought the invitations. The King became furious and put those murderers to death and even burned up their cities. The king’s instruction for the servants to go out into the highways and byways is clearly a direct reference to taking the gospel message to the Gentiles. Their instructions were clear: “invite everyone you see to the wedding.” Here is a clear cut picture of the universal invitation to come and sit at the table of the wedding feast of the lamb. This invitation is open to all who will come. There are no doubt that there were more invitations given out than those that we re accepted. There were individuals who like those who had the original invitations refused to come for whatever reason. It is entirely possible that some who did get the original invitations could have been among those on the highways and byways who did ultimately come to the feast. The focus here is not on those who were invited but those who accepted the invitation and came. This might be questionable if this was where the story ended; it is not.

The king entered the banquet hall and looked at all of the people seated at the tables. As he looked around the room, he saw one who was not wearing a wedding garment. The King asked the man a very simple question, “Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?” Jesus says the man was speechless; he had no excuse. The King then ordered his servants to bind the man’s hands and feet and take him from the feast and cast him into outer darkness and into torment. This man had no excuse for not wearing the wedding garment for these garments were not brought by the guests; the garments were provided to the guests as they came to the wedding feast. This man made the mistake of arrogantly thinking what he had to wear was as good as the garment offered to him. It was not.

Jesus conclusion to this story is summed up in the statement, “for many are called, but few are chosen.” In Jesus’s own illustration of salvation the invitation is virtually open to all. The invitation itself is universal in scope. But the focus is not on those who have been invited but rather on those who have come to dine at the table. Those who chose to accept the invitation were accepted at the feast. They were given wedding garments to put on and a seat at the table. One guest chose to come but he refused the wedding garment that was offered to him and he was excluded from the feast.

In looking at this concept of limited atonement and Jesus’ own picture of salvation in this story, those who were chosen to receive personalized invitations in the beginning were the ones who refused to come. Pay particular attention to what Jesus said about this group: “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.” The King was speaking of those who had received the engraved invitations. It must be understood that their worthiness had nothing to do with their own merit; however, their worthiness had everything to do with their response to the invitation. The interesting thing is, the same thing is true of those who were on the highways and byways of life who also received an invitation. There were no doubt many who were on the highways and byways who received an invitation and just like those in the beginning, they too refused to come. There is really no mention of them because the focus quickly shifts to those who came. Those who did come were no more worthy to come than those who had received the original invitations and did not come. The guests who were allowed to sit at the table were the rebels who accepted the invitation and put on the wedding garment and were given a seat at the wedding feast.

Grateful to be in His Grip,

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7 responses to this post.

  1. If we are the invited to the wedding as guests, who do you think is the bride? Maybe Jesus did not want us to question this particular parable in that way. What do you think? You seem like a person who studies the word of God deeply, as I do. Maybe you can help sharpen me in this topic.

    Reply

  2. I think your question is a good one and thought about it as the day wore on. I don’t think the bride is an issue at all in the passage. Of course, the bride is the church but not so in this parable.

    I believe the parable is a picture of salvation in that invitations were to come and sit at the king’s table. The king’s son was getting married which was symbolic of the importance of the event. The focus is on not who is invited but rather those who did come. We are all invited to come to sit at the kings table. Many were invited but only a few came. Some may have even had valid reasons for not coming. There may have been a lot of people who might have come but did not get an invitation.

    There are a ton of applications to this parable but the focus is clearly on those who received and invitation and then came.

    The banquet feast represents represents heaven.

    Thanks for your question.

    Grateful to be in His Grip!

    ><>’

    Reply

    • Thank you so much for your careful consideration and reply. Revelation says the bride is the New Jerusalem. May I ask why you believe the New Jerusalem is the church? Is not the New Jerusalem an actual city where God dwells with all believers? In addition, this new city will come down from heaven to earth, where we will all live on earth. So why say the church is the Bride? The Bible calls the church the body of Christ, so there it seems we are part of the Groom, but we do not ever say that, correct? Jesus has joined believers with him, the Groom, so can we say we are the Bride also, joined again to the Lord at the Wedding Day? You believe the Bible calls us the Bride and the Wedding guests. Which scriptures does the Bible also call us the New Jerusalem? I really am studying and not trying to convince you of anything. I am trying to
      sharpen myself with someone who studies deeply. Whenever you have the time, I am thankful for any reply.

      Reply

  3. A couple thoughts to your comment. First of all, this parable of the wedding feast really has no intended bride and is not a pre-cursor to the bride in Revelation 21. It is a parable setting up the statement in verse 14, “for many are called, but few are chosen.” What I believe the parable in Matthew simply points to is the “universality of the invitation” and the limited response of the people invited to come to sit at the table and eat. The invitation is not the focus of this parable; the focus is the response of those who came. The same is to be said of salvation. While the invitation is indeed important, it is the response of individuals to the invitation that Jesus is saying here that is the most important aspect of salvation.

    Now, as to your question regarding Revelation’s mentioning the New Jerusalem coming down adorned as a beautiful bride… “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:1-8)

    This is generally seen as a reference to the church prepared as a bride… this is no doubt a holy city coming down out of heaven… and so the symbolism is I think related to the elements that the city presents that parallel the uniqueness of the relationship that God will have with His people. To me the key is not the “new Jerusalem as much as it is, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”

    John does go on in verse 9 to say, “Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. 10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,” He continues, “Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: This is a special dwelling place for the presence of God and the saints of God, which will include the OT saints as well as the NT saints.

    13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

    It is crystal clear… there is going to be plenty of room in heaven for everybody prepared to go there! I will have 10 acres, my wife will have 10 acres, my son, my parents, my wife’s parents, our grandparents… listen we already have a subdivision already reserved in glory! That is what I see in the passage in revelation basically saying. This is going to be a glorious event!

    We have to be very careful with the symbolism in Revelation and in the parables and for that matter as well as speaking of looking into God’s face or His eyes or talking about His hands… they have limited analogies but we have to be careful that we do not take the symbolism and go to far with it.

    The wedding feast, is simply a picture of the invitation contrasted to those who actually came to sit at the table. I am glad we have a seat reserved at that table!

    Grateful to be in His Grip!

    ><>’

    Reply

  4. Posted by Leanne on August 27, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Hi Brother Bob. Though I have read this scripture many times, reading it here I noticed for the first time the emphasis on the “one who was not wearing a wedding garment.” The King asked the man a very simple question, “Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?” Jesus says the man was speechless; he had no excuse. The King then ordered his servants to bind the man’s hands and feet and take him from the feast and cast him into outer darkness and into torment.”

    Does the wedding garment represent the “new self” believers are expected to put on when we accept salvation? I am a strong believer in once saved always saved, but also strongly believe true believers put away the old self (or garment in this case) and put on the new self (faith = belief in action). Does this scripture demonstrate that by failing to put on the “wedding garment” or new self one is cast into outer darkness?

    I don’t intend this as a challenge, but I only seek understanding of the scripture as my guide to living and sharing faith with others.

    Thanks for sharing this blog!

    Reply

  5. Leann,

    Was in Ripley last night at Olive Branch. Sorry I have not gotten back to you sooner. Have been on the road.

    I see coming to the wedding feast and putting on the garment that is provided as “accepting the invitation” to sit at the table, which is a picture of salvation or conversion. The wedding garment is provided by the host of the feast. This guy came in and sat down without putting on the wedding garment, which to me is more like joining the church to get to heaven as opposed to opening ones heart to Christ and in faith and repentance coming to the banquet feast. This guy as i see it, made the mistake of thinking what he had was enough when in reality it was not. We cannot in and of ourselves come to the table on our own.

    We have to remember that it is not us who need to be satisfied with what we do, but rather God. We must hear His word and then heed it and do what He tells us to do the way He tells us to do it WHEN He tells us to do it. If you look at the “new nature” as part of the conversion process (which it is), then your position on this would be absolutely correct. Unless and until we put on the “new nature”, which is GIVEN TO US through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, we shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Good work there!

    Grateful to be in His Grip!

    ><>’

    Reply

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