Again the Kingdom of God is compared to another scenario based on another perspective with which one would see the intention of God concerning certain issues. Jesus was again addressing the Jews in relation to their God and what would happen to them and their land in the future. In His usual way, He had to address them using a parable. He compared the Kingdom of God with the King who was about to have a marriage ceremony for his son – who was about to bring his betrothed bride home.
The concept about marriages in those days was such that both parents (of the bride and the groom) would draw up a marriage contract on behalf of their children. The bride and the groom would meet for the first time when the contract was signed. Although they were considered married at this point, yet they lived separately until the actual time of the ceremony, when the groom comes to pick his bride. The bride remained in her parent’s house, while the groom would leave to prepare a place for their home.
When the groom returns home, supervised by his father, he begins to build the new home for his new family. When the groom’s father is satisfied with the completion of the new home for his son and his wife, he then prepares for a ceremony for the arrival of the bride. The groom would then appear at his in-laws house to take away his bride without prior notice. The ceremony would take place and the banquet follows. The banquet (usually arranged and sponsored by the father of the groom) was then one of the joyous occasions in the Jewish life and could last for up to a week.
Two invitations were extended to the invited guests. First, the invited guests were told about the ceremony and the banquet, and then when the food is ready, they are invited for the second time by asking them to come as all is set for the ceremony. The idea was that the groom’s father would send his servants to the invited guests asking them to come. This was what Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to – the King who made a marriage feast for his son.
Since the Master was talking in a parable, we ought to try and understand what He was trying to portray in this epic story. The King in this story represents God who knows at what time His son is going to come back for His bride (the Church). The Son is Jesus who is the groom betrothed to His bride. The contract has been signed and the down payment made (Holy Spirit). Jesus said, “in my Father’s house there are many mansions, but I go to prepare a place for you”. Only the Father knows the time to send His son, but the Son would arrive to pick His Bride without prior notice.
The people that were invited to the ceremony represents the Nation of Israel (The Jews); the king sent His servants to invite them to the wedding banquet but they would not come: it wasn’t that they could not come rather it was a refusal to come to the banquet. They refused to come to the banquet just like when Jesus came to His people and He was rejected by them. They chose to attend to their businesses and their livestock and also decided to kill the servants sent by the king. The first set of servants sent represents the Law and the Prophets (from Moses down to John the Baptizer); they were all killed by the Jews. What would the King do about this?
In anger, the king sent his armies and here comes danger to this Nation and its inhabitants. The king’s retaliation against the murderers can be construed as a prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D. 70 at the hands of the Romans. More broadly, the king’s vengeance speaks of the desolation of Jerusalem as mentioned in the book of Revelation.
The banquet is ready and there was no one there to enjoy the day and time with the King and his Son. Immediately the King sent out some of his servants again to go to the highway, inviting just anyone they saw: the good, the bad and the ugly so that the ceremony could be filled with people. The people on the highway in this parable represents the Gentile Nation, signifying that Jesus would at a certain time extend salvation to the Gentiles because of Israel’s refusal and at the banquet racial barrier would have been broken down and people would be associated with God on terms different from the norm.
The servants sent to the highway would represent believers of today and the preaching of the Gospel. The great commission is for us to go into the world and preach this gospel to all and sundry in the name of our Lord Jesus because everyone that identifies with Jesus is immediately baptized into the Church forming the bride of the coming and expected groom.
The banquet is underway and the King comes around to see his guests. He sets his eyes on a particular person who was not wearing the wedding garment provided for the guests; it was more of an insult to the King at this man’s refusal to wear the garment. The matter of the wedding garment is informative. The man who was caught wearing his old clothing learned what an offense it was as he was removed from the celebration. The garment in this parable connotes the covering of our Sin by the shedding of the blood of Jesus. It was on this basis that one would be allowed to stay in the banquet. The righteousness of God surpasses human works and human righteousness, which Isaiah describes as filthy rags. Human effort will be an understatement and error as we consider attending the banquet.
The man was excommunicated from the banquet and was dumped at a particular place where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. This again tells us that there is a Heaven for those who would believe in the righteousness of God through Jesus and there is a Hell for people who would believe in their self-conceited righteousness.
A marriage feast is about to take place and getting invited to the marriage would be at the terms of the Father of the groom. His terms are that, when you get invited to the wedding, you must be prepared to wear the garment He gives at the entrance into the feast. The King calls through the invite and also chooses whom He wants at the banquet. The basis of His choice would be the garment of righteousness provided by Him and not your garment.
This story never happened but Jesus used the protocols of marriage celebration according to the Jewish culture to explain what would happen as He prepares to come for the second time for His bride (the Church). That was why He ends the Story by saying, “many are called but few are chosen.”
The self-righteous Pharisees who heard this parable understood that Jesus was talking about their self-confessed righteousness. In the very next verse, “the Pharisees went out and laid plans to ensnare Him in His words”
C S Lewis said, “Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger.”