Parable of the Wedding Feast

Many are called, but few are chosen
Parables of Jesus were short and pithy stories that hid the mysteries of the Kingdom of God in it.
They were like sea shells hiding worthy pearls.
The tool to understand the core of a parable often lies in the first and the last sentence of the story.
The introduction tells us what it is all about.
The conclusion tells us what we should learn.

Let us learn the mystery hidden in a popular parable of Jesus about the King and the Wedding Banquet.
The King and Wedding Banquet are images that contain the mystery of the Kingdom of God.
Moreover, this parable starts with a direct statement that it is all about the Kingdom.

The Story

The story of the parable goes like this:

Jesus begins the story with the statement it is all bout the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 22: 1, 2 
1    Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying:
   “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.

The marriage feast of the King’s son is the occasion.
The King had many special invites to this wedding feast.
But tragically all the special invitees did not turn up at the right time for the feast.
So the King ordered to gather a crowd from the street
And thus all sorts of people from the street are gathered.

But this is a wedding feast, so it is not proper to attend the feast without appropriate clothes for the occasion.
The poor folks in the street had no wedding dress.
They wore dirty and tattered clothes.
That is not proper for a feast arranged by a King for his son’s wedding.
So the king decided to provide a wedding garment to all free of cost.
It was distributed at the gate of the great banquet hall.

The King in our story respected the free will of every citizen.
It seems it was a country where people could live exercising their free will to accept or reject the King’s orders.
The special invitees to the feast had the freedom to attend or neglect the feast.
That is why they went their own way rejecting the kind invitation of the King.

So the King declared freedom to the second batch of invitees also to accept or reject the special wedding dress.
Now free will is declared, but wedding dress was mandatory for entry into the banquet hall.
Those who do not like to accept the wedding dress can still live outside.

Free will is always like that.
We are free to accept or reject any orders of the king.
But obedience is mandatory for all the blessings from the King.

His citizens knew the real meaning of free will.
So all of them accepted the wedding dress and entered into the banquet hall.
None wanted to miss this special occasion and this rare opportunity.

But one person was defiant and disobedient.
He rejected the wedding dress and entered into the hall.
Before the feast really began, the King entered the hall to check his guests.
He was happy with everyone except one.
He noticed that one entered the hall without proper wedding dress.
That means, he has rejected the offer of a wedding dress freely given to all at the gate of the banquet hall.
He has rejected the order of the king
He has rejected the king himself.
For this defiance the King ordered to imprison him in the darkest prison.
There he will have to suffer day and night.

The parable ends with a declaration by the King:

Matthew 22: 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

As I said before, the beginning and the final statement of a parable tell all about it.
Three important points are discussed in this parable.

1.      The offer of salvation by grace and the free will to accept or reject.
2.       The mixed character of the Kingdom of God at the present stage in the redemptive history.
3.      The final absolute separation of the two classes – those who accept the offer of salvation by grace and those who reject the offer.
The study

For this study, we are focusing on the final statement said by Jesus.

Matthew 22: 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This verse speaks a volume about the present state of the Kingdom as revealed now.
Jesus came to declare or inaugurate the Kingdom of God.
So the Kingdom of God is present now, but is anticipated in its fullness in the eschatological era.
So we or the Church now lives in His inaugurated Kingdom.

What is the nature of the present Kingdom?

Eden was a perfect picture of God’s Kingdom.
Abraham entered into a covenant about the establishment of the Kingdom and lived a Kingdom living.
David manifested the victory and the rule of the Kingdom.
Solomon exhibited the glory and richness of the Kingdom.
The present Church is the bride of the Messianic King who will defeat the enemy satan and establish the Kingdom with all its glory and richness.

But the present church is not the perfect community who will reign with the King in the eschatological age.
Christ explicitly states in many of his parables that the Church at this historical age will never be free of offences, both in doctrine and manners, until the day appointed for the restoring of all things comes.
This is a warning for us not to be disappointed.
The faithful have to arm themselves with patience and steadfastness.

Many are called but few are chosen

Here Jesus was using military language
There is an allusion to the Roman custom of raising their militia or recruiting soldiers for their army.
All were mustered or called; but only those who were found proper were chosen to serve.

A calling to join the army is announced to all.
In fact in ancient Rome, all male members should join the army.
All male members are soldiers.

So a call to join is extended to all male members of the nation.
They come together for the recruitment.
After careful scrutiny, only few are chosen.

Our Saviour often uses this custom that was prevalent during His time.
His audience was accustomed to the calling to join the army and the strict selection of the soldiers.

So this sentence “Many are called but few are chosen” had become probably proverbial.
People used this sentence as a proverb in their conversation.

We find an example for this kind of selection in the Old Testament, in Judges 7: 1 - 8.

We read about Gideon, the great man of God choosing men for army to fight against the Midian.
He gave a general call to join the army against the enemy.
Thirty two thousand men gathered, but God did not choose them.
So as per the instructions received from God, Gideon asked those who fear the war to go back.
Twenty two thousand left the army.
Again another fierce test was executed and three hundred men were selected.

From the thirty two thousand men who gathered only three hundred were selected for the war.
Many are called but few are selected.

Three fourth is wasted

Here let me share your thoughts about the wastage of efforts for the Kingdom.

We often feel that much of the efforts to build the Kingdom of God are wasted.
But the happy thing is that each of the seed that grows yields hundred fold fruits.

The parable of the sower

Another famous parable of Jesus is the Parable of the sower.
A farmer went to his field to sow his seeds.
Unfortunately many seeds fell down from his basket on the way.

Some fell on the path; some other fell on rocky places and some other fell among thorny bushes.
Only one fourth of his seeds were sowed in the prepared fertile land.

That means, three fourth of his seeds fell in uncongenial land and did not bear fruit.
This is indeed a great waste of wealth.

Then comes the marvelous surprise in the story.
The one fourth of his seeds that was sowed in the fertile land produced more than the total number seeds he carried from his home.
They bore hundred fold fruits.
One seed produced one hundred fruits.
That is more than the total number of seeds he carried from his home.

That means that the chosen few are more than the rejected many.

Parable of draw net and fishes

This idea of calling many and choosing few is well expressed in another parable of Jesus also.
In Matthew 13: 47 – 51 we read the Parable of draw net and fishes.

Here also the parable is started with the statement that “the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.”

Drag Net

The word here rendered "net" signifies a large drag-net, which draws everything after it, suffering nothing to escape
This kind of drag-nets drags everything up from the bottom of the sea.
Moreover, as this net dragged along with the boat, it keeps gathering all in its way, both good and bad, small and great.

But a separation takes place when it is brought to the shore.
Those which are proper for use are preserved, and those which are not good are either destroyed or thrown back into the water.

The Gospel Net

The net is a symbol for Gospel.
The invitation of the King is an extension of grace to all.
The gospel is announced to all; all are offered salvation by grace through faith and many respond positively.
Many join the present day Church.

But Jesus warns us that there are many in the Church who nevertheless is not of the Church.
Though many are gathered, only few will be chosen.

At length, the unfit, those who have not accepted salvation by grace will be cast out.
The full and perfect cleansing of them is deferred to the last day.

A day of judgment

A great day of judgment is a truth.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ reminded us about the great Day of Judgment.
On that day there will be a separation of the good and the evil.
Jesus came to preach salvation, and Jesus did preach salvation.
But the same Jesus spoke at many occasions about the suffering in the hell, and of the sufferings of the damned.
Wheat and Weed

In another parable about Wheat and Weed, as we read in Matthew 13:24 – 43  Jesus spoke about the final separation of the wicked from the good and the punishment of the wicked.

One farmer sowed good wheat in his field.
But as he was resting in the night, his enemy came and sowed seeds of weeds among the good seeds of the wheat.
Both grew up together to the time of the harvest.

On the day of the harvest the farmer ordered to collect the weeds separately and burn them.
And He ordered to gather all good wheat and store them in his granary. (gra-nu-ree)

Jesus tells His audience that the present day church is a field of wheat and weeds mixed together.
Though gospel has only sowed good seeds of wheat, the enemy has sown evil seeds of weeds in the same field.
Both the wheat and weed are growing together in the field now.

But a great Day of Judgment is coming.
On this Day of Judgment by God all evil weeds will be gathered and burned in the fire.
And the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of God.

The selection process

What is the selection process of the Kingdom of God?
What we should do to join the chosen people?

Jesus used a military language when he finished the parable of the Wedding Feast.

Many are called but few are chosen.

Jesus closed the parable with a warning that those who are left out of the selection process will have to face eternal torture in hell.

Gospel is actually a call to join an army.
It is a call to join the army of the Kingdom of God.
The purpose of the army is to establish the Kingdom of God.

But the Kingdom of God is not of this earth.
The Kingdom Jesus spoke about is a spiritual kingdom
So the qualification for recruitment is also spiritual.

The only qualification we need is a born again life.
That means we have to take a decision to leave the side of satan and sin and join the army of God.

Simply, gospel is about a repented life.
As we repent we leave the camp of satan.

Gospel offers the grace of God.
Gospel offers salvation by the grace of God.
Your faith in the crucifixion of Jesus is sufficient for acquiring salvation.

As the king offered beautiful wedding dress to all people from the street, God is offering salvation to all by His grace.
We have the freedom to accept or reject the offer.
If we accept the offer, we will sit and enjoy the royal banquet; otherwise thrown into hell.


So the parable of the Wedding Feast tells us that the present day church is a mixture of good and bad.
It is a crowd pulled by the gospel net for a strict recruitment that will happen later.
On the day of the recruitment, those with wedding dress received by the grace of the King will be chosen.
All else will be thrown out.

No comments:

Post a Comment