Today’s Invitation: Matthew 22:1-14

Focus Passage: Matthew 22:1-14 (NIV)

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 come.

“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. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “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.’

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

Read Matthew 22:1-14 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

When reading this entry’s passage, I often wonder about the people who were originally invited. In each case, those who received an original invitation – which almost sound like an exclusive invitation, give an excuse and ask to be excused from attending the celebration. These original invitees were offered everything almost exclusively, but chose to reject the invitation, which was really also rejecting the king, in favor of doing their own thing.

Verses 5 and 6 tell us their response when receiving the king’s invitation: “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 two possible responses from the king’s invitation are indifference and hostility.

Many of the original invitees were too interested in what they were currently doing to pay attention when the king called. When the call came in, they were not finished building their business, taking care of a client, saving enough to weather retirement, or with their goals-checklist – and they placed these things as more important than the king’s wedding banquet for his son. These original invitees lived like they were their own boss and like their personal priorities were their highest priorities.

Other original invitees hated the king, and so when the call came to them, they refused it simply because of who the king was. The passage also says that these haters mistreated the king’s servants, and some even went so far as to kill the servants who were sent to them. These original invitees picked themselves to be kings of their own life because they didn’t want to submit to the actual king.

In every case an invitation is given in this passage, there does not appear to be a cost involved. No one has paid to purchase a seat/plate at the king’s table, and this truth reveals something else that is interesting about human nature: We discount the value of free gifts we have received, regardless of their true, often priceless, value.

If the king in this parable represents God, then some of the elements in this parable become clear.

The first thing to become clear is that if God exists, then regardless of what we think, say, feel, or do, He is in control. There is nothing we can say/do that will remove Him from His position of authority. If God exists, then no amount of thinking He doesn’t exist will change this reality. Our belief is not stronger than God’s reality.

The next thing is that we can really have one of three responses to God’s invitation: We can reject the invitation like those who were hostile towards the king; we can ignore the invitation like those who had chosen other things to be higher priorities; or we can accept the invitation, leaving what we were doing for the higher priority of being with God.

Lastly, there are two ways we could understand the context of this parable: as a future invitation into heaven, or as an immediate invitation into a relationship with God today.

When Jesus returns, He will take us to heaven to be with Him, and I imagine there will be a huge welcome celebration and feast. It will be like the wedding between Jesus and “His bride” (a metaphor for His people). When Christ returns and calls His people to Him, there should be nothing that takes precedence over this call.

When we first learn about Jesus and about the sacrifice He made on our behalf, we also are given an invitation: We can choose to distrust God’s motives and hate Him because of something else that happened; we can choose to ignore or delay accepting the invitation because something else is more important to us; or we can accept the invitation and enter into a new life with Him. Other parts of the gospels tell us there is a celebration in heaven every time someone accepts Jesus’ invitation.

In either case, we have God’s invitation now, and what matters most is choosing to accept this invitation into our lives today.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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