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Matthew 22 1-14 Sermon

Matthew 22 1-14 Sermon

 
 
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It’s always a privilege to be invited to some special occasion.

You can probably think of the excitement associated with finding out that you had been invited to some sort of event:

  • A friend’s birthday party or
  • The wedding of someone you cared about or
  • The retirement party of a co-worker.

Being invited to things like these can fill you with a special sense of acceptance and inclusion and honor.

Since the late 1980s it’s been a tradition for teams in the National Football League who have won the Super Bowl to be invited to the White House by the president of the United States. And most have accepted that invitation.

But some have rejected it. They have thought little of the privilege of being invited to such an event. And not just in the world of football – more recently there have been high-profile invitations to the White House that have either been rescinded by the president or rejected by a player who has been invited.

And yet, this isn’t merely a recent phenomenon. As far back as 1984 a few players from the ‘84 NBA-champion Boston Celtics rejected an invitation to the Reagan White House to celebrate their victory, with Celtic forward Larry Bird famously stating, “If the president wants to see me, he knows where to find me.”

Well, of course, the rejection of certain people of generous invitations by people of importance goes back farther than the 1980s. In a very real sense, God has called or invited all sorts of people throughout the millennia. And so-very-often that invitation has met with rejection – sometimes with ambivalence and sometimes with hostility.

And so, I’d like us to consider a passage that deals with God’s gracious invitation – or calling – and how people reacted to it. That passage is a parable in the 22nd chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

So, let’s read Matthew – starting at the end of chapter 21 and verse 45 and reading through to chapter 22 and verse 14.

{Read Matthew 21:45-22:14…}

21.45-46 Context

{Don’t read this again… Skip ahead to my comments…}

KJV Matthew 21:45 ¶ {And when/When} the chief priests and Pharisees {had heard/heard} {his/Jesus’} parables,

they {perceived/understood/realized/knew} that he {spake/was speaking/was talking} {of/about} them.

46 {But when they sought/They wanted/Although they were looking for a way/They looked for a way} to {lay hands on/seize/arrest} him,

{they/but they} {feared/were afraid of} the {multitude/people/crowds/crowd},

because {they/the crowds/the people} {took/considered/regarded} him {for/to be/as} a prophet.

Hostility

Now, the context into which Jesus speaks this parable in chapter 22 is one of hostility.

It follows his entry into Jerusalem that is also known as “the triumphal entry” in which many were praising him and there’s a lot of excitement about his coming to Jerusalem for the Passover.

And the first thing that Matthew tells us that Jesus did when he entered Jerusalem is that he enters the Temple and sets things in order. He removes those who are greedily engaged in making money off of true religion.

And after that, Jesus engaged in healing those who couldn’t see and those who couldn’t walk.

And whereas all of these activities are wonderful and beneficial and demonstrated that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, the chief priests and scribes did not appreciate what was going on and they began to aggressively question and challenge Jesus.

Well, Jesus then leaves the city overnight and comes back the next morning and withers a fig tree that had no fruit on it.

He then proceeded to the city where he began teaching the people – and immediately the chief priests and elders again question him – this time about his authority to do the things he was doing. “Who gave you this authority?

Three Parables

And it’s at that point – in this context of hostility – where Jesus begins giving these men three parables – the third of which we’re going to focus on in our time here.

Two Sons and Their Father

But the first of those three parables involved two sons and their father. The father tells both boys to do something. The first one says he won’t do it but then ends up doing it. The second son says he will do it but ends up not doing it. The chief priests and scribes are like the second sons – they speak of doing God’s will but they don’t do it. And some of the tax collectors and prostitutes – really bad folks – are the ones who initially refused God’s will but then ended up doing it.

Tennant Farmers and Landlord

The second parable involves tenant farmers and the landlord who loaned them a vineyard. The landlord is due some produce from his land, but the tenant farmers are unwilling to yield any to him. The result is that these wicked tenant farmers would be destroyed by the landlord for their refusal to pay him what they owed – even killing his own son in the process.

In that parable, the chief priests and scribes are the tenant farmers, God is the landlord, and the vineyard is his people Israel. When the farmers kill the landlord’s son, it was a foretelling that the chief priests are going to kill Jesus, the Son – not of a mere landlord but – of God.

And that then leads to what we read at the end of chapter 21 – the chief priests and scribes realize that Jesus was speaking about them. And the result was that they wanted to kill Jesus but they couldn’t because of the crowd that was enjoying what they were experiencing from Jesus.

Called vs. Chosen

And so, Jesus begins his last parable about these religious leaders who were religious but lost. Or based on the parable, you might say that they were “called” but were not “chosen.”

And I don’t believe that we have the privilege of having any Jews in our attendance right now. We certainly don’t have any first-century chief priests or scribes here! But what we do have is a church full of people who – weekly, at least – have access to God’s word. Each one of us is being constantly invited or called by God to trust his Son Jesus Christ.

And so, the question put to us, as it was to the chief priests and scribes in Matthew 22, is this – How Will You Respond to God’s Invitation to His Kingdom? He is inviting you to be a part of his kingdom. How have you responded to that invitation?

So, let’s look at this parable in Matthew 22:1-14 to help shine the light for us onto how exactly we have responded to God’s invitation to his kingdom.

22.1 Intro

To begin in verse 1, we have an introduction in which Jesus sets the scene of this parable.

KJV Matthew 22:1 ¶ {And Jesus/Jesus/Once more Jesus} {answered and spake/spoke} unto them again {by/in} parables, {and said,/saying}

Here’s the parable…

22.2 Event: Marriage Supper

The parable surrounds an event. And the event is a celebratory supper in honor of a marriage, according to verse 2.

2 The kingdom of heaven {is like unto/may be compared to/is like} {a certain/a} king, {which/who} {made/gave/prepared} a {marriage/wedding feast/wedding banquet} for his son,

Kingdom of Heaven

Alright, so this parable is meant to communicate something about the kingdom of heaven. That’s the kingdom over which heaven rules. It’s the kingdom that will be on earth during the Millennium with its king – the Lord Jesus Christ – ruling. It’s the kingdom that will never end on into eternity. It’s the kingdom into which people like you and me are being transferred as we trust Jesus Christ and are then transferred from the kingdom of darkness.

Marriage

And the Lord Jesus pictures this kingdom as a wedding feast. Being invited to trust Christ and enter into his kingdom is like going to celebrate a wedding – with all the joy and anticipation that are associated with that kind of activity.

King & His Son

And note that a king is setting up this celebration. In this parable, the king represents God the Father. And the son of this king represents Jesus Christ.

Who’s the Bridge?

Now, you have a marriage feast. You have a king. You have His Son. But who are we missing?

We have the groom. Where is the…? Bride?

Well, she’s actually not mentioned in this parable because the identity of the bride is not important for Jesus’ purposes in telling this story. But you can call to mind the fact that we’re told in Revelation 19 of a coming wedding supper of the Lamb and it’s the church that is going to be the bride. So, the bride is not identified in this parable, but she is us – those of us who have received the Lamb, the son of the King.

Summary of 22.2

So, that’s the event – a celebratory marriage supper for the Son put on by the King his Father.

22.3-7 Cycle 1

And with those details established, Jesus brings us to the first of three cycles in this parable. And these cycles involve only two actions – the king invites and the guests respond.

  • The first cycle spans from verse 3 to verse 7
  • The second from verse 8 to verse 10
  • And the third from verse 11 to verse 13, with Jesus then giving his summary of the parable at the end in verse 14.

And we’re only going to have time to cover this first cycle in verses 3-7 right now. And hopefully we’ll cover the others some other time.

22.3a Inviting the Invited

So, this first cycle begins with the invited … being invited – or you could say, the called … being called. There are people who are invited or called to receive Christ and enter the kingdom of heaven – and these people are pictured in verse 3 as now being called or invited to come.

3 {And/And he/He} {sent forth/sent out/sent} his {servants/slaves} {to call/to summon/to} {them that were/those who had been/those} {bidden/invited} to the {wedding/wedding feast/banquet to tell them to come}:

So, you’re being confronted in this parable with how you’re going to respond to God’s invitation to his kingdom.

Note here in this verse that there are some whose invitation is already assumed. They’ve already been invited from the vantage point of this parable. We’re going to see that these folks represent – in Jesus’ day – the nation of Israel. They were the recognized people of God. If you were to be transported back to this time in history and you were to look for the group that would have been identified as “God’s people” you would have been directed to Israel. They were invited – all of them – they were all called by God in a very special way to his kingdom.

And when Jesus their Messiah finally came for them, that calling took on a special urgency. The called were being called. The invited were being invited, in a special way.

And in our day, we can draw this connection – that the people meeting in this church building and in many others throughout the world are recognized as “God’s people.” You have been invited to God’s kingdom. Here you are in the midst of a bunch of people who are going to enter God’s kingdom! We’re all in a very special position to be hearing from God’s word and to continually be called by God to be members of his kingdom.

22.3b Refusal of the Invited

But at the end of this verse we see a very concerning reality. And that reality is that those who had been invited rejected the invitation.

{and/but} they {would not/were unwilling to/didn’t want to/refused to} come.

Now, catch this – this is meant to be shocking! If you’re carefully reading this story, a king is inviting normal folks to an elaborate wedding banquet to celebrate the joyful marriage of his son. What could possibly motivate someone to reject that kind of gracious invitation?

And yet, how many people in churches across the world are there physically sitting in the seats but they have not responded to God’s invitation to trust his Son? They have refused the invitation even while they’re sitting in the midst of others who are going to the kingdom. How shocking!

22.4 Persistence of the Invitation

And yet, the Lord is so gracious. Because in verse 4 we see God’s own persistence in continually inviting the invited to his kingdom – even after an initial rejection of his already generous offer.

4 {Again,/Then} he {sent forth/sent out/sent} {other/some more} {servants/slaves}, {saying/and said},

Tell {them which/those who} {are/have been} {bidden/invited},

{Behold,/Look!/That} {I have prepared my dinner/The feast I have prepared for you is ready}:

my oxen and {my fatlings/my fattened livestock/fattened cattle} {are killed/are all butchered/have been slaughtered},

and {all things are/everything is} ready:

come {unto/to} the {marriage/wedding feast/wedding banquet}.

So, note how patient and kind this king is. He’s laying out for those who were invited all of the blessings that come with their attending his son’s wedding feast.

And is this not what God the Father does for you in the Bible concerning the blessings that attend receiving his Son and entering his kingdom? Streets of gold are only the beginning! Mansions in eternity are just scratching the surface!

What awaits those who will receive Christ and enter God’s kingdom? We have eternal life. We have peace with God. We’re free from deserved condemnation. Our sins are all forgiven. We are redeemed from sin and its slavery. We have a sure foundation to base our life upon in this world. We have all things that pertain to life and godliness. We have Christ – a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We have communion with God and fellowship with his people. We will rule and reign with Christ in the Millennium. There’s coming a day when we will experience no sickness or sorrow or pain or death! And we could go on and on as to the blessings that God promises those who respond to his call to trust His Son.

God lays out for us in our mind’s eye in his word the blessings of his kingdom. And he’s constantly appealing to those who are in our midst to enter his kingdom. He’s appealing to you through this parable and through this message that seeks to explain and apply it to you. How will you respond to God’s gracious invitation to his kingdom? He’s graciously calling you.

22.5 Ambivalent Persistence of the Refusal

And yet, the persistence of the king to graciously invite these ones who have been invited to his kingdom… is only matched by the equal persistence of those who had been invited to resist the king’s invitation in verse 5.

5 But they {made light of it,/paid no attention/were indifferent} and went {their ways,/away/off} one to his {farm/own farm/field}, another to his {merchandise/business}:

So, the king invites. The invited refuse the invitation. The king sends a more elaborate and explicit invitation. The invited persist in refusing the invitation.

And doesn’t this resemble the response of some who are even members of places that call themselves churches? Maybe even some among us – either now or in times past. Maybe some of our loved ones to whom we’ve witnessed and who are in a special position of hearing and receiving God’s invitation to trust His Son and enter His kingdom.

You hear the call – the invitation – but you do nothing about it. You take no action. Access to the kingdom of heaven is offered, but you refuse it. Not violently, but just out of indifference and apathy. You have other things to attend to.

These people in the parable had farms and businesses to get back to. They didn’t have time for the wedding banquet. “Who needs a wedding banquet? We’ve got work to do!” was their mantra.

And in our day, a churchgoer might be so concerned with social justice or feeding the poor or trying to bring about world peace or really, just living this mundane natural life that he really has no time to receive the simple invitation to trust Jesus Christ to forgive him all his sins. “Who has time for dealing with sins and humbling himself before God? I’m busy working in the soup kitchen!” is the mantra of people like this.

22.6 Antagonistic Persistence of the Refusal

Well, even worse than the ambivalent refusal of some of those who were invited… is the antagonistic refusal that we see in verse 6.

6 {And the/The} {remnant/rest/others} {took/seized} his {servants/slaves}, {and entreated them spitefully/and mistreated them/insolently mistreated them/treated them outrageously}, and {slew/killed} them.

Now, remember what’s happening here. This king is graciously inviting people to his son’s wedding feast. These people who are invited need to pay nothing. They will have an abundance of provision when they get there. There will be joy.

The king has been gracious in inviting these people. And he’s been gracious to respond to their initial rejection with more grace and more patience and more explanation of how wonderful this event was going to be for them.

And yet, we saw that some continued in their ambivalent refusal. And the reasoning of that group was hard enough to understand.

But now this – that some of those who were invited actually got violent with those who were sent by the king to invite them – to the point of killing these people who simply served as mouthpieces for the king. This is the classic case of people “shooting the messenger.”

Although, when people metaphorically or literally shoot the messenger usually that messenger is bringing bad news. But in this case, the messengers are bringing the best news that could ever be brought! The antagonistic rejection of these people to the point of killing the king’s servants is just ridiculous. It’s outrageous!

And of course, in the immediate context, Jesus is prophesying to these chief priests and scribes that they were basically going to engage in this kind of activity. They were going to kill the messengers that God had sent them to invite them to the kingdom – who would preach God’s word to them concerning the King’s Son – Jesus Christ.

And in our context, it’s disheartening – though it shouldn’t be a total shock – to see the kind of antagonism God’s servants can receive – even from those who claim to be among that group of those who are invited to the kingdom. The antagonism that can be shown to God’s messengers by those who claim to be God’s people is a discouragement. And yet, it shouldn’t be a surprise. It happened in Jesus’ day as well.

And God is so patient – even to those who persistently reject his invitation to his kingdom. Think of how he patiently endured the persistent and violent rejection of Saul of Tarsus until finally Jesus had to arrest him on the way to Damascus. And think of how the Lord had patiently pursued you until you finally received his gracious invitation to trust Christ and be forgiven all your sins. And for any here who have not yet received God’s invitation to his kingdom – he is still patiently inviting you. The opportunity still awaits you. What are you waiting for? Receive God’s invitation to trust His Son, Jesus Christ and enter his kingdom.

22.7 Destruction of the Refusing Invited

Because – though he is amazingly patient – God won’t wait forever. At some point, the Lord needs to give those who reject his offer what they really want – just like the king in this parable does in verse 7.

7 {But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth:/But the king was enraged/The king was furious!}

{and he/he/so he} {sent forth/sent/sent out} {i.e., not his servants this time, but…} his {armies/soldiers/troops/army}, and {destroyed/they put to death} those murderers, and {burned up/set on fire/burned down} their city.

And so, the immediate fulfillment of this happening was when the city of Jerusalem was burned by Rome in AD 70. The invitation was laid out for Israel and the king even sent his own Son to invite them. But after decades of persistent refusal and rejection – some of it being ambivalent and some antagonistic – the Lord needed to do something about it. And so, he sent Rome to burn the city of those who had been invited but who had rejected that gracious invitation.

And for any who hear this message and continue to reject God’s invitation to the kingdom, I anticipate that God will continue to graciously call and invite you. But at some point, there is an end.

For those of us with loved ones – and God has used you to call and invite these folks in your life to the kingdom – but they continue to reject the advances – well, there is coming a time when time is up for them. God is patient. But he won’t wait forever. And none of us ought to reject God’s invitation and act as if he’s never going to take action. He will. It’s appointed to man once to die and after this the judgement.

And the amazing thing is that the Judge who will be adjudicating that judgement spoken of in Hebrews 9 is none other than the Son in this parable – Jesus Christ. God is inviting you to trust his Son, the Judge. Have you?

Many of us have. And yet, I assume not everyone has. If you have been rejecting God’s invitation to trust his Son – why wait? You don’t know how much longer God’s patience will hold out for you.

How will you respond to God’s invitation to his kingdom? Will you receive it? Have you received it? Or will you reject it like the chief priests and scribes of Jesus’ day – and rather receive the destruction that they received? You can receive God’s invitation or God’s wrath. It’s one or the other. There’s no third option.

So, may today be the day of salvation for someone who hears Jesus’ message urging that we respond to the invitation to his kingdom.

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