A Parable That Pulls No Punches :: By Gene Lawley

The title of this article comes from the Parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22:1-15, wherein the king sets up a wedding and a feast for his son and sends out invitations to the expected guests. Somewhat surprisingly, none wanted to come. Moreover, they even mistreated and killed the messengers. The king was furious and when he heard of it, he had those murderers killed and their city burned.

It is a prophetic parable if there ever was one! The “pulls no punches” part of the title comes from the “sport” of boxing where a punch is “pulled” when the puncher holds it back from the fist’s intended target. Otherwise the punch will hit with full force.

To get the full impact of the parable in its prophetic overtones, though lengthy, I must record it in its completeness from Matthew 22:1-15:

“And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, ‘See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’

But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.”

It looks like the religious leaders understood that He was implementing them in the parable, based on their concluding response.

Here are the prophetic portrayals in the parable, as I see them:

  1. The king represents God, the Father; the son, the Son of God; and the servants who make the invitations, the Holy spirit.
  2. The wedding and wedding feast are picturing that coming union of the Bridegroom (Jesus) with His Bride (the born-again Body of Christ, that church) at the marriage supper of the Lamb reported in Revelation 19:6-10.
  3. Note that the feast is fully prepared before anyone is invited to it. This depicts the preparation of the gift of eternal life before time began, as Titus 1:2 tells us, as well as many other passages that speak of His activities “before the foundation of the world.”
  4. This also depicts the fact that those coming to the supper are not coming to a “short-order affair” where the guest’s meal is made for him as he shows up. That is, the oxen and fatted cattle had been killed already and the dinner was ready for as many as would come. The implication is that they would not run out of food no matter how many would come to the wedding and none would be wasted. That is, the sacrifice of Christ is completely sufficient for all mankind but especially for those who believe, as 1 John 2:2 says: “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
  5. The first ones invited, who refused to come and even made light of it, are the Jewish people who have rejected Christ. As John 1:11 says, “He came to His own and His own did not receive Him.” Yet, Paul declares in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
  6. God held to the promise of the gospel of Christ being made available to the Jew first, but it was rejected. Therefore the king sent his servants to punish those who rejected him and to destroy their city. This was literally fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and over the next 66 years the Jews were scattered among all the nations of the world.
  7. Thus, we have those from the “highways and byways” to whom the king sent his disciples to invite to the dinner, as identified in John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
  8. But even after the invitations go out and are accepted, the king finds one who is not wearing a “proper wedding garment.” As all parables do, this one does not fully cover the finer details of the particular doctrine it is portraying, for we must realize that no one will ever get to the dinner table with the Lamb and not have the “proper wedding garment.” This part of the parable displays the reality of John 1:13, describing the “wedding garment” of those who do receive Christ, “who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

    Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again,” and Paul later confirms the result, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

  1. Then the parable gives us this statement: For many are called, but few are chosen.” They are called—invited—to put on a wedding garment, the Lord Jesus Christ, in a new birth experience. In a great mystery of the workings of justification and redemption, God brings it about and draws a person to Himself and then to Christ as John 6:44 and then, 37-40 relate:

    “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; all that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

    “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

  1. That final conclusion of the religious leaders, not part of the parable, is repeated over and over during the ministry of Jesus among “His own,” eventually coming to His crucifixion on the cross. Even that, however, was his design, for He, Himself, is our redemption.

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