The parable of the marriage feast. (1-14) The Pharisees question Jesus as to the tribute. (15-22) The question of the Sadducees as to the resurrection. (23-33) The substance of the commandments. (34-40) Jesus questions the Pharisees. (41-46)
Verses 1-14 The provision made for perishing souls in the gospel, is represented by a royal feast made by a king, with eastern liberality, on the marriage of his son. Our merciful God has not only provided food, but a royal feast, for the perishing souls of his rebellious creatures. There is enough and to spare, of every thing that can add to our present comfort and everlasting happiness, in the salvation of his Son Jesus Christ. The guests first invited were the Jews. When the prophets of the Old Testament prevailed not, nor John the Baptist, nor Christ himself, who told them the kingdom of God was at hand, the apostles and ministers of the gospel were sent, after Christ's resurrection, to tell them it was come, and to persuade them to accept the offer. The reason why sinners come not to Christ and salvation by him, is, not because they cannot, but because they will not. Making light of Christ, and of the great salvation wrought out by him, is the damning sin of the world. They were careless. Multitudes perish for ever through mere carelessness, who show no direct aversion, but are careless as to their souls. Also the business and profit of worldly employments hinder many in closing with the Saviour. Both farmers and merchants must be diligent; but whatever we have of the world in our hands, our care must be to keep it out of our hearts, lest it come between us and Christ. The utter ruin coming upon the Jewish church and nation, is here represented. Persecution of Christ's faithful ministers fills up the measure of guilt of any people. The offer of Christ and salvation to the Gentiles was not expected; it was such a surprise as it would be to wayfaring men, to be invited to a royal wedding-feast. The design of the gospel is to gather souls to Christ; all the children of God scattered abroad, Joh. 10:16 Joh. 11:52 . The case of hypocrites is represented by the guest that had not on a wedding-garment. It concerns all to prepare for the scrutiny; and those, and those only, who put on the Lord Jesus, who have a Christian temper of mind, who live by faith in Christ, and to whom he is all in all, have the wedding-garment. The imputed righteousness of Christ, and the sanctification of the Spirit, are both alike necessary. No man has the wedding-garment by nature, or can form it for himself. The day is coming, when hypocrites will be called to account for all their presumptuous intruding into gospel ordinances, and usurpation of gospel privileges. Take him away. Those that walk unworthy of Christianity, forfeit all the happiness they presumptuously claimed. Our Saviour here passes out of the parable into that which it teaches. Hypocrites go by the light of the gospel itself down to utter darkness. Many are called to the wedding-feast, that is, to salvation, but few have the wedding-garment, the righteousness of Christ, the sanctification of the Spirit. Then let us examine ourselves whether we are in the faith, and seek to be approved by the King.
Verses 15-22 The Pharisees sent their disciples with the Herodians, a party among the Jews, who were for full subjection to the Roman emperor. Though opposed to each other, they joined against Christ. What they said of Christ was right; whether they knew it or not, blessed be God we know it. Jesus Christ was a faithful Teacher, and a bold reprover. Christ saw their wickedness. Whatever mask the hypocrite puts on, our Lord Jesus sees through it. Christ did not interpose as a judge in matters of this nature, for his kingdom is not of this world, but he enjoins peaceable subjection to the powers that be. His adversaries were reproved, and his disciples were taught that the Christian religion is no enemy to civil government. Christ is, and will be, the wonder, not only of his friends, but of his enemies. They admire his wisdom, but will not be guided by it; his power, but will not submit to it.
Verses 23-33 The doctrines of Christ displeased the infidel Sadducees, as well as the Pharisees and Herodians. He carried the great truths of the resurrection and a future state, further than they had yet been reveled. There is no arguing from the state of things in this world, as to what will take place hereafter. Let truth be set in a clear light, and it appears in full strength. Having thus silenced them, our Lord proceeded to show the truth of the doctrine of the resurrection from the books of Moses. God declared to Moses that he was the God of the patriarchs, who had died long before; this shows that they were then in a state of being, capable of enjoying his favour, and proves that the doctrine of the resurrection is clearly taught in the Old Testament as well as in the New. But this doctrine was kept for a more full revelation, after the resurrection of Christ, who was the first-fruits of them that slept. All errors arise from not knowing the Scriptures and the power of God. In this world death takes away one after another, and so ends all earthly hopes, joys, sorrows, and connexions. How wretched are those who look for nothing better beyond the grave!
Verses 34-40 An interpreter of the law asked our Lord a question, to try, not so much his knowledge, as his judgment. The love of God is the first and great commandment, and the sum of all the commands of the first table. Our love of God must be sincere, not in word and tongue only. All our love is too little to bestow upon him, therefore all the powers of the soul must be engaged for him, and carried out toward him. To love our neighbour as ourselves, is the second great commandment. There is a self-love which is corrupt, and the root of the greatest sins, and it must be put off and mortified; but there is a self-love which is the rule of the greatest duty: we must have a due concern for the welfare of our own souls and bodies. And we must love our neighbour as truly and sincerely as we love ourselves; in many cases we must deny ourselves for the good of others. By these two commandments let our hearts be formed as by a mould.
Verses 41-46 When Christ baffled his enemies, he asked what thoughts they had of the promised Messiah? How he could be the Son of David and yet his Lord? He quotes ( Psalms 110:1 ) . If the Christ was to be a mere man, who would not exist till many ages after David's death, how could his forefather call him Lord? The Pharisees could not answer it. Nor can any solve the difficulty except he allows the Messiah to be the Son of God, and David's Lord equally with the Father. He took upon him human nature, and so became God manifested in the flesh; in this sense he is the Son of man and the Son of David. It behoves us above all things seriously to inquire, "What think we of Christ?" Is he altogether glorious in our eyes, and precious to our hearts? May Christ be our joy, our confidence, our all. May we daily be made more like to him, and more devoted to his service.
Matthew 22:1-14 . PARABLE OF THE MARRIAGE OF THE KING'S SON.
This is a different parable from that of the Great Supper, in Luke 14:15 , &c., and is recorded by Matthew alone.
2. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son--"In this parable," as TRENCH admirably remarks, "we see how the Lord is revealing Himself in ever clearer light as the central Person of the kingdom, giving here a far plainer hint than in the last parable of the nobility of His descent. There He was indeed the Son, the only and beloved one ( Mark 12:6 ), of the Householder; but here His race is royal, and He appears as Himself at once the King and the King's Son ( Psalms 72:1 ). The last was a parable of the Old Testament history; and Christ is rather the last and greatest of the line of its prophets and teachers than the founder of a new kingdom. In that, God appears demanding something from men; in this, a parable of grace, God appears more as giving something to them. Thus, as often, the two complete each other: this taking up the matter where the other left it." The "marriage" of Jehovah to His people Israel was familiar to Jewish ears; and in Psalms 45:1-17 this marriage is seen consummated in the Person of Messiah "THE KING," Himself addressed as "GOD" and yet as anointed by "HIS GOD" with the oil of gladness above His fellows. These apparent contradictions are resolved in this parable; and Jesus, in claiming to be this King's Son, serves Himself Heir to all that the prophets and sweet singers of Israel held forth as to Jehovah' s ineffably near and endearing union to His people. But observe carefully, that THE BRIDE does not come into view in this parable; its design being to teach certain truths under the figure of guests at a wedding feast, and the want of a wedding garment, which would not have harmonized with the introduction of the Bride.
3. and sent forth his servants--representing all preachers of the Gospel.
to call them that were bidden--here meaning the Jews, who were "bidden," from the first choice of them onwards through every summons addressed to them by the prophets to hold themselves in readiness for the appearing of their King.
to the wedding--or the marriage festivities, when the preparations were all concluded.
and they would not come--as the issue of the whole ministry of the Baptist, our Lord Himself, and His apostles thereafter, too sadly showed.
4. my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage--This points to those Gospel calls after Christ's death, resurrection, ascension, and effusion of the Spirit, to which the parable could not directly allude, but when only it could be said, with strict propriety, "that all things were ready." Compare 1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:8 , "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore, let us keep the feast"; also John 6:51 , "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
5. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
6. And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully--insulted them.
and slew them--These are two different classes of unbelievers: the one simply indifferent; the other absolutely hostile--the one, contemptuous scorners; the other, bitter persecutors.
7. But when the king--the Great God, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
heard thereof, he was wroth--at the affront put both on His Son, and on Himself who had deigned to invite them.
and he sent forth his armies--The Romans are here styled God's armies, just as the Assyrian is styled "the rod of His anger" ( Isaiah 10:5 ), as being the executors of His judicial vengeance.
and destroyed those murderers--and in what vast numbers did they do it!
and burned up their city--Ah! Jerusalem, once "the city of the Great King" ( Psalms 48:2 ), and even up almost to this time ( Matthew 5:35 ); but now it is "their city"--just as our Lord, a day or two after this, said of the temple, where God had so long dwelt, "Behold your house is left unto you desolate" ( Matthew 23:38 )! Compare Luke 19:43 Luke 19:44 .
8. The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy--for how should those be deemed worthy to sit down at His table who had affronted Him by their treatment of His gracious invitation?
9. Go ye therefore into the highways--the great outlets and thoroughfares, whether of town or country, where human beings are to be found.
and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage--that is, just as they are.
10. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good--that is, without making any distinction between open sinners and the morally correct. The Gospel call fetched in Jews, Samaritans, and outlying heathen alike. Thus far the parable answers to that of "the Great Supper" ( Luke 14:16 , &c.). But the distinguishing feature of our parable is what follows:
11. And when the king came in to see the guests--Solemn expression this, of that omniscient inspection of every professed disciple of the Lord Jesus from age to age, in virtue of which his true character will hereafter be judicially proclaimed!
he saw there a man--This shows that it is the judgment of individuals which is intended in this latter part of the parable: the first part represents rather national judgment.
which had not on a wedding garment--The language here is drawn from the following remarkable passage in Zephaniah 1:7 Zephaniah 1:8 :--"Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, He hath bid His guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel." The custom in the East of presenting festival garments (see Genesis 45:22 , 2 Kings 5:22 ), even though nor clearly proved, Is certainly presupposed here. It undoubtedly means something which they bring not of their own--for how could they have any such dress who were gathered in from the highways indiscriminately?--but which they receive as their appropriate dress. And what can that be but what is meant by "putting on the Lord Jesus," as "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS?" (See Psalms 45:13 Psalms 45:14 ). Nor could such language be strange to those in whose ears had so long resounded those words of prophetic joy: "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels" ( Isaiah 61:10 ).
12. Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless--being self-condemned.
13. Then said the king to the servants--the angelic ministers of divine vengeance (as in Matthew 13:41 ).
Bind him hand and foot--putting it out of his power to resist.
and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness--So Matthew 8:12 , 25:30 . The expression is emphatic--"the darkness which is outside." To be "outside" at all--or, in the language of Revelation 22:15 , to be "without" the heavenly city, excluded from its joyous nuptials and gladsome festivities--is sad enough of itself, without anything else. But to find themselves not only excluded from the brightness and glory and joy and felicity of the kingdom above, but thrust into a region of "darkness," with all its horrors, this is the dismal retribution here announced, that awaits the unworthy at the great day.
there--in that region and condition.
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
14. For many are called, but few are chosen--So Matthew 19:30 .
Matthew 22:15-40 . ENTANGLING QUESTIONS ABOUT TRIBUTE THE RESURRECTION, AND THE GREAT COMMANDMENT, WITH THE REPLIES. ( = 12:13-34 Luke 20:20-40 ).
For the exposition,
Matthew 22:41-46 . CHRIST BAFFLES THE PHARISEES BY A QUESTION ABOUT DAVID AND MESSIAH. ( = 12:35-37 , Luke 20:41-44 ).
For the exposition,