Matthew 22:1-3. And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
Observe, that it was a king who made this wedding feast; therefore, to refuse to come to it when the command implied great honour to those who were bidden, was as distinct an insult as could very well be perpetrated against both the king and his son. “They would not come.” Had the one who invited them been only an ordinary person, it might not have been their duty to come, and they might even have been justified in their refusal. But this was a king, who sent his servants to summon the guests to the marriage of his son; and I bid you to take notice that the gospel marriage feast, to which you are invited, is the feast, not only of a king, but of the King of kings, your Creator, and your God; and in refusing to come, in obedience to his command, you commit an overt act of rebellion against his Divine Majesty. The king “sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.” They were bidden, yet they would not come; from whence I gather that those who think the invitations of the gospel are to he restricted to certain characters, because they say it is useless to invite others, “do err, not knowing the Scriptures.” What have we to do with the apparent uselessness of what we are commanded to do? It is our duty to give the invitation according as our King directs us; but it is not our business to decide whether that invitation will be accepted or rejected. In this case, we know what happened: “They would not come.”
Matthew 22:4. Again he sent forth other servants,-
Perhaps, in the kindness of his heart, he thought that the first servants, whom he sent, were somewhat offensive in their manner; and that, therefore, the guests would not come; just as it may be that some of you will never receive the gospel from one minister, for you have a prejudice against his way of putting it; so the Lord may, in the greatness of his mercy, send you his Word by the mouth of another. I am quite sure that any of us, who are the King’s servants, would be very glad for somebody else to take our place if he could succeed better with you than we can. This king, in his wisdom and kindness, “sent forth other servants,”-
Matthew 22:4-6. Saying, Tell them, which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
The great majority of those who heard the invitation, “made light of it;” and still is this the habit of the hulk of mankind, and even of many whom I am now addressing. Any day will do for you to think about Christ, so you seem to fancy. He may have your leavings; when it shall come to the last, you think that you can send for a minister to come and pray with you, and that then all will be well. You make light of it,-you make light of present mercy, of immediate reconciliation to God, you make light of the love and grace of God, and of the precious blood of Jesus. Take heed what ye are doing, for the great King in heaven regards this as high treason against himself, he looks upon it as a presumptuous attempt to lower his infinite majesty in the eyes of men. When a king has killed his oxen and fatlings for his son’s wedding feast, and there is nobody to eat the provision, then is it a dishonour to him; and if it were possible for the gospel provisions to be universally rejected, God would be dishonoured. There are some, however, who go further than merely making light of the invitation; “the remnant” who would, if they could, maltreat and slay the messengers of mercy; and, as they cannot, nowadays, kill their bodies, they try to slay their reputations. Any slander which they have heard, or any lie which they have invented, will do to tell in order to make the minister of Christ of less repute than he deserves to be.
Matthew 22:7-10. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
This is the glorious rule of the gospel still. Those who were first bidden to the great wedding feast were the Jews; they would not come, and there fore, Jerusalem was destroyed. Now the gospel is preached to all nations, and all sorts of people in all nations; yet the same sinful rejection of the invitation is constantly being repeated. You, who hear the gospel from Sunday to Sunday, are bidden by it to come to the great supper; and, as some of you will not come, God, in his infinite mercy, is sending his gospel to the poorest and the vilest of mankind. Many of them do come, and thus the Lord provokes you to jealousy by a people who were not a people; and astonishes you as you find that many come from the East, and from the West, and from the North, and from the South, and sit down in the kingdom of God, while you, who reckoned yourselves to be the children of the kingdom, because you have long been privileged to hear the gospel, shall be cast out. The king’s servants “gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good.” The best gathering into the visible church is sure to be a mixture; there will be some coming into it who should not be there.
Matthew 22:11. And when the king came in to see the guests,
For whom he had provided sumptuous garments suitable for the wedding,-for, as we provide what is supposed to be appropriate array for mourners at a funeral, so, in the East, they provide, on a much larger scale, suitable apparel for wedding guests.
Matthew 22:11. He saw there a man, which had not on a wedding garment:
He might have had one, for it was provided. The fact that he had not one was as great an insult to the king as a refusal of his invitation would have been. He was not bound to provide himself with a wedding garment; he could not have done it, for he was probably one of those swept up out of the highways. But there it hung, and he was requested to put it on; but he refused, and he had the impertinence to sit there without the indispensable wedding garment. If he could not show his contempt for the king in one way, he would do so in another; and he dared, in the midst of the wedding feasters, to defy the authority of the king, and to refuse to do honour to the newly-married prince.
Matthew 22:12. And he saith unto him, Friend, how came thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
He could give no reply; the king’s presence awed him into silence.
Matthew 22:13. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
You may manage to get into the church even though you are not converted; but if you are not trusting in Christ, you are not saved, and your false profession will only make your destruction the more terrible. Woe unto us unless we are found wearing the righteousness of Christ,-unless our lives are made holy by the gracious influence of his blessed Spirit! These are the wedding garments which we are to wear. If we have them not, our presence at the festival will not avail us in the great testing time that is coming.
Matthew 22:14. For many are called, but few are chosen.
All who hear the gospel are called, but the call does not come with equal power to every heart. And with some, the power with which it comes is not that which saves; it only convinces the intellect, so that an outward homage is paid to the Word, and the inward obedience of the soul is not rendered to the Lord. God grant that each of us may have on the wedding garment when the King comes in to see the guests!