“And Jesus answering spoke to them again in parables, saying, The kingdom of the heavens has become like a king who made a wedding feast for his son,” Matthew 22:1-2
Imagine for a minute that you work for a very important company. You’re a hard worker, and you’re looking for a raise, so you’ve been working hard to be seen by the CEO (your boss!) and have your work noticed.
Now imagine that your boss’s son is becoming the new CEO of the business that you work at. It’s a happy day for the boss and it’s put him in a good mood. Such a good mood that he decides to throw a party. He’s very proud of his son, so he invites all the workers of the business to celebrate his son’s achievements with him. That includes you!
“and sent his bondmen to call the persons invited to the wedding feast, and they would not come.” (v.3)
The day comes, and you get a message on your phone. Not just a reminder, but a personal message from the boss: “I’m celebrating my son today. I hope you’ll come and help me celebrate him and all that we’ve done together with the business. Remember, the doors are open in an hour. Don’t be late for the toast!”
Keeping in mind that you’re looking for that raise, would you miss this chance to celebrate with the boss and his son, and maybe show off your charm and friendly personality and maybe even get a word in about all that you’ve done for the business? Of course not! You’d most likely shine your medals, wear your best outfit in the closet, and take a glass of champagne as you proudly join the ranks of all the leaders of the company. You would want to be noticed by the boss!
But in this parable that Jesus tells the crowds, the people who were invited were not coming to the wedding feast that the king had thrown for his son. It was a proud day for the king: his son had found a beautiful princess to love and cherish and be wed to, but none of the people that he invited…. “they would not come.” They didn’t bother to show up at the feast that he was throwing.
Now imagine you decided that you had other things to do, instead of celebrate your boss’s son’s promotion. He’s not the one who deserves it; you work hard. You need to be the one up there being praised and honored, not the boss’s son. So you decide not to come. And no one else shows up either.
How do you think the boss would respond to no one showing up when his doors are opened.
“Maybe there was a mistake. No one received the message. Maybe it didn’t send.” Cell phones aren’t the most dependable form of sending messages, after all.
“Again he sent other bondmen, saying, Say to the persons invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatted beasts are killed, and all things ready; come to the wedding feast. But they made light of it, and went, one to his own land, and another to his commerce. And the rest, laying hold of his bondmen, ill-treated and slew [them].” (v.4-6)
The boss decides to send an email to his employees. “The doors are open! The food is ready. Come, celebrate my son with me!”
You read the short and simple email, and laugh it off. Why would you celebrate that egotist? After all, he’s entitled and privileged. You notice others on Facebook and Twitter expressing the same thing. One person even copies the boss’s letter to their Facebook status and speaks negative and disrespectable things about the boss’s son.
“And [when] the king [heard of it he] was wroth, and having sent his forces, destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” (v.7)
Of course, when the boss sees what his employees are saying on social media and when he sees that no one cares to come and celebrate his son with him, he becomes very angry with the people who work under him. How can he hand his business to his son and expect people to respect the new CEO, if they don’t even respect the current CEO (him!) enough to come to a celebration that he throws?
You and all of your co-workers might find yourself with a new message on your phone. “Don’t come into work tomorrow; you are relieved of all the duties that you are responsible for in my company.”
Wait, that wouldn’t be very smart, since firing everyone would mean that the boss would no longer have any workers at the company, right? It would surely be a company suicide.
“Then he says to his bondmen, The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy; go therefore into the thoroughfares of the highways, and as many as ye shall find invite to the wedding feast.” (v.8-9)
Instead of canceling the party and closing the business, the boss creates immediate buzz to put on TV. “Breaking News! There’s a celebration going on, and everyone is invited!”
“And those bondmen went out into the highways, and brought together all as many as they found both evil and good; and the wedding feast was furnished with guests.” (v.10)
Now imagine you’re a local shop clerk who’s dreamed of working for a large company, but you have never had the chance to be discovered. You can’t even afford to own the proper evening-ware for a party of this stature. But now everyone is invited to come celebrate the passing of the baton in this highly esteemed company.
So you decide to drop everything, change into your best clothes and attend the party. The boss is pleased at the outcome, because many people have come.
“And the king, having gone in to see the guests,” (v.11)
The boss mingles with the new guests. He hires people on the spot, eager to replace the disrespectful people who had been working for him before. He has a vision for his company. There is no room for hateful people who don’t show respect for anyone but themselves.
“beheld there a man not clothed with a wedding garment.” (v.11)
Imagine, instead of dressing in your very best clothes to impress the boss, you drop everything and come as you are: in casual tank top and shorts. You’re not here for a job; you just want to gaze on the beauty of the fine silverware and the exquisite foods that will be served there. You know nothing about the company, the CEO or his son. Maybe you could even take home a bag of leftover food and save it for later. Would anyone miss just one crystal champagne glass if it was lost? With so many, surely not! Even if they did, they would have the money to replace it. Right?
Even if you don’t think about taking away a souvenir, your main purpose is to enjoy viewing the lifestyle of luxury and enjoy the rich (free!) food that you could never afford on your own. Maybe you’ll wish that you could live in a grand mansion or eat from golden dishes, but you don’t have any plan to shake up your own life with change. It’s too much work.
“And he says to him, [My] friend, how camest thou in here not having on a wedding garment? But he was speechless.” (v.12)
What does it mean to be speechless? Merriam-Webster.com expresses it as this
- Unable to speak: Dumb
- Not speaking: Silent
- Not capable of being expressed in words
So, for just a moment, imagine yourself as the boss. You’re celebrating you’re son: a bright young man who you have seen from infancy, grow into a mature and responsible leader. You’re brimming with pride. You want to show him off and honor him for everyone to see what you have had the pleasure of seeing all along. You’re promoting him to the position that you would only give to a person you trust as much as you trust yourself: the head executive of the business that you dreamed, started, and fought for most of your adult life.
With that in mind, when you see a man dressed in slacks coming to your honorary celebration, you don’t want to judge a person based on the clothes that is worn. He could be living on the streets, and needing help. Who is he? Where did he come from?
“Friend,” You say. “Don’t you know that this is a celebration of the utmost importance to me? My son is taking over the company that I started 40 years ago with my own hands. Why haven’t you come in more formal clothes?”
He is speechless. Maybe he’s ignoring you? Or perhaps he doesn’t have anything to say. You try to reason out in your mind why he doesn’t speak. You can think of 3 reasons (based on the definitions above) why he could be speechless.
- Maybe he is mute. If he were, then surely it wouldn’t stop him from having words to say. He would still try to express his reasons to you, even without the ability to speak. He could use gestures and facial expressions to give you an answer.
- He does not wish to speak to you, because he has intentions that he wants to keep hidden. Perhaps he is a thief, here to steal your silverware when you’re preoccupied with hosting the party. Or worse, he’s here to pick pocket your unsuspecting guests and take advantage of the people who have gathered.
- He will not speak simply because he has come to gawk at your wealth and gaze at the beauty of your living. You cannot have him disrupting the celebration and intimidating your guests; after all, you didn’t invite people to come and stare at your accomplishments and marvel at your golden platters, they are here to honor your son, who you are very proud of.
“Then said the king to the servants, Bind him feet and hands, and take him away, and cast him out into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. (v.13)
That’s harsh! But looking at the possibilities, why wouldn’t you want to throw the man out? You have the power to send away anyone you wish to send away, because you are the host of the celebration. He didn’t respond to you when you spoke to him. He’s either ignoring you, wanting to steal from you or your guests, or he’s turning all of your guests into spectacles to gawk at and watch as if they were animals in a zoo. He won’t even talk to you, so if he’s troubled or needing help, you surely don’t know. You’ll send him out, and if he doesn’t leave, you’ll probably call security. The harder he fights, the worse it will be for him.
“For many are called ones, but few are chosen ones.” (v.14)
Truth be told, you most likely wouldn’t go to a millionaire CEO’s party in shorts and a tank top. It would leave you feeling awkward and out of place. But the issue here isn’t what clothing is or isn’t appropriate. The issue is the fact that the speechless man didn’t treat the host of the party with the deserved respect. Don’t you think that a man kind enough to invite everyone to the party would be equally kind enough to help the speechless man out, if he had just asked?
Let’s imagine, instead, that you are a guest that came to honor the host of the party and his son, but you came only as you are because you are poor and cannot afford anything fancier than the second hand clothes that you’re wearing to the party. What might happen if the CEO comes to you and asks you about your clothes and you choose to give him a respectful answer instead of staying silent.
CEO: “Friend, don’t you know that this is a celebration of the utmost importance to me? My son is taking over the company that I started 40 years ago with my own hands. Why haven’t you come in more formal clothes?”
You: “I’m sorry, sir. I came because I was invited. I’m simply a sales clerk. Though hard-working, I have just enough money to pay rent and buy food for my family. I don’t have anything impressive to wear.”
With this response, the boss is impressed with you, and for reasons unknown to you he takes you to his office and helps you clean up your appearance. You are transformed; when you look in the mirror you see a confident and strong entrepreneur that you’ve never seen before.
The boss brings you to his son, who is the new CEO of the company, and introduces you. “Look son, I have brought to you our new COO (which is the chief operating officer- the second in command) in the business. I expect you to teach your new employee everything that I have taught you.”
Jesus's words to His Father: “I have told these men all about you. They were in the world, but then you gave them to me. Actually, they were always yours, and you gave them to me; and they have obeyed you.” John 17:6 (TLB)
“Let us rejoice and exult, and give Him glory; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready. And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright [and] pure; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.
And the angel says to me, Write, Blessed [are] they who are called to the supper of the marriage of the Lamb. And he says to me, These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:7-9