Jesus spoke to them
again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who
prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who
had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to
“Then he sent some
more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have
prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and
everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no
attention and went off–one to his field, another to his business. The rest
seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged.
He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
“Then he said to
his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not
deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone
you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the
people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled
“But when the king
came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing
wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without
wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.
“Then the king told
the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the
darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are
invited, but few are chosen.” (Matt 22:1-14)
Why All The Parables?
The Greek word for parable literally means to set along
side. A fictional earthly story is set alongside a heavenly truth to
help convey its meaning. When the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke
to the people in parables He said,
“The knowledge of
the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to
them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever
does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” (Matt.
In effect this means a parable was meant to accomplish
two things: 1) to instruct His followers, and 2) to confuse everyone else.
These seemingly conflicting objectives can both be accomplished because it’s
the Holy Spirit who gives us the understanding we need. Without the
Holy Spirit no one can comprehend the things of God. Paul put it this
The man without the
Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they
are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are
spiritually discerned. (1 Cor.
The parable of the wedding banquet is a good example.
It’s either very instructive or very confusing depending on your
understanding of the Bible. (A working knowledge of Jewish wedding customs
during Biblical times can also be helpful but is not essential.)
The Wedding Planner
First century Jewish wedding customs held that the father
of the groom was in charge of the event and bore all the expense associated
with the wedding and the banquet that followed. I’ve been told that in
case of royalty or the very wealthy this often included providing a
specially made garment to be worn over a guest’s regular clothing. This
wedding garment was presented to the guest upon arrival and donned
immediately. Refusal to wear it was an insult to the Father of the groom and
could get a guest ejected from the festivities. In case of large gatherings
it also served as identification to discourage uninvited guests from
crashing the party.
As I said, the Parables of our Lord Jesus are earthly
stories meant to explain heavenly truths. Each person or object is symbolic
of someone or something else. Understanding the symbolism is crucial to
discovering the lesson of the Parable. In fact receiving the full
theological impact of a parable requires such an understanding.
The King represents God the Father, His Son our Lord
Jesus. Invited guests who declined His invitation symbolize Israel’s
rejection of the Messiah and the servants He sent to invite them are the
prophets. The city He destroyed is Jerusalem, and the wedding banquet is the
Kingdom of Heaven. This puts the timing of the parable at the Second
Do You Know The
Some say the last group He sent His servants out to
invite represents the Church, but the symbolism and timing are wrong. The
Church is the Bride of Christ (Ephes.
5:25-27), not a group of last minute substitute guests. Since
Israel had already declined His invitation, and the Church (being the bride)
would not need an invitation, who could these guests be?
They have to come from a time after the Bride is chosen
and prepared, because the wedding banquet is ready and only the guests are
lacking for the festivities to begin. They’re from a group we call
Tribulation believers, those who come to faith after the Rapture of the
Church in Revelation 4 but before
the Wedding Banquet of Revelation 19.
Here’s The Real
Lesson Of The Parable
The wedding garment represents God’s righteousness. This
is a concept explained on several occasions in both the Old and New
Testaments. Isaiah described our righteousness as filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and God’s righteousness as “garments of salvation” and
“robes of righteousness” (Isa 61:10)
where the acquisition of these qualities is likened to clothing given us at
I delight greatly
in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with
garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a
bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with
her jewels (Isa 61:10).
In Revelation 19
the church has been prepared as a bride having been clothed in white linen,
representing our righteousness. But as in
Isaiah 61:10, the righteousness symbolized by the clothing is given
to the bride, not purchased or earned. Paul said that ours is a
righteousness that comes to us through faith (Romans 3:21-22).
The fact that a guest is thrown out into the darkness for
not wearing wedding clothes indicates these last minute guests are required
to be clothed in “garments of salvation” as well.
Rev. 16:15 tells us Tribulation believers will have to “keep their
clothes with them.” In other words they’ll be responsible for maintaining
the righteousness they will have been given by obeying God’s commandments
and remaining faithful to Jesus (Rev.
14:12). Only the Church has been promised the gift of eternal
Therefore the guest who was escorted out had been a
Tribulation believer who was now trying to gain entrance to the banquet in
his own clothing, having lost or discarded the “garment of salvation” he’d
been given. He was hoping to gain entrance to the kingdom in his own
righteousness, which as Isaiah said, is like filthy rags in God’s sight.
This is another slant on the parable of the 10
bridesmaids (Matt. 25:1-13). The
setting there is also the time of the 2nd Coming. And again, the
Church is not a bridesmaid. The Church is the bride and could
not be refused admittance to her own wedding banquet. The five
who were excluded were tribulation believers who had lost their salvation
either by not obeying God’s commandments or by not remaining faithful to
Jesus or both. This is indicated by their lack of sufficient oil,
which is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is
sealed within the Church as a deposit guaranteeing our salvation (Ephes
1:13-14), the bridesmaids who were excluded from the banquet have to
represent a post rapture group from whom the Holy Spirit had departed for
lack of faith.
Many are invited, but few are chosen (Matt 22:1-14). God doesn’t desire that any should perish, but
that all would come to repentance (2
Peter 3:9). But whether it’s the Bride or the wedding guests, the only
righteousness that gains us admission into His presence is that which is
given us as a gift and accepted in faith (Rom
3:21-22). All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed
yourselves with Christ (Gal 3:27).
For God made Him Who had no sin to become sin for us, that in Him we might
become the righteousness of God (2
Cor 5:21). Selah.