The Parable of the Wedding Feast

Contents

Matthew 22:1-14

See also the Parable of the Dinner Guests

Synopsis of Parable:

A king prepared a wedding feast for his son. He sent servants to call those that were bidden, but they would not come. He sent the servants again, but the guests treated the servants harshly. Then the king sent his armies to destroy the guests and burned their city. Then he sent his servants to find guests on the highways. They did, both good and bad. When the king went to see the guests, he found one without a wedding garment, and had him thrown out. For many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:14

Parable Given in Response to:

This parable was given after the Parable of the Tenants to the Pharisees that Jesus was questioning.(Matthew 21:23-27.)

Symbolism Chart

Symbol Meaning Verse Found
↓King God Matthew 22:2
↓Wedding Kingdom of God Matthew 22:2
↓Son Jesus Matthew 22:2
↓Servants Prophets Matthew 22:4
↓Bidden Ancient Israel Matthew 22:4
↓Highway Guests Other People Matthew 22:10
↓Wedding Garment Will of the Father Matthew 22:11

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

As presented in the King James Version of Matthew 22:1-14

Matthew 22:1And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
4 Again, he sent forth other servants, 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.
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, and slew them.
7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.
10 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.
11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
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.
14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols

The King is God Back to Top ↑

Yet again, we see a symbol who represents God the Father. This is very common, and requires no in-depth explanation, as it is a very common theme throughout the canonical gospels.

No major denominations disagree on this interpretation, and as such there are major theological differences that arise from this interpretation.

The Wedding is the Kingdom of God Back to Top ↑

Although Jesus said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, Matthew 22:2 it is not the king that is the symbol of the Kingdom of God, it is the whole marriage. The celebration being the wedding.

The Son is Jesus Back to Top ↑

An in-depth discussion of this is not needed, but a smaller discussion can be found in the Parable of the Tenants. This interpretation is standard across all denominations and does not change any theology.

The Servants are the Prophets Back to Top ↑

Here, the servants are the prophets. We see this in how Jesus says the bidden treat these servants: 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. Matthew 22:5, 6 A few say that the servants are angels, but humans have not killed angels.

This is the mostly standard interpretation, but there is a small group that says that these servants are actually the Israelites of that time period. But that cannot be, if it were so, then who was the ones that were both invited into the Kingdom of God and killed the Israelites? There are no interpretations for that, thus holding that the servants are the Israelites is a nonsensical position.

More information can be found in the section on servants in the Parable of the Tenants.

The Bidden are Ancient Israel Back to Top ↑

Just as we can identify the servants by how the bidden treat them, we can identify the bidden by how they treated the servants. Those ancient Israelites are the only group of people that qualify as the interpretation for this symbol. God wanted them in the kingdom, he sent his prophets to tell them this, and they ignored, jailed, and killed them.

It is interesting to note that Jesus separated this group into two distinct groups. One group that merely ignored the servants, and another group that went out of their way to treat the servants poorly. This is yet another reminder that all the people in this world can be split into three groups: Those who follow Jesus. Those who ignore Jesus and his followers. And those who do evil to Jesus’s followers. The group that ignored the prophets and went their own way will have the same fate as those who did evil to Jesus and his followers, even if they were nicer in comparison.

An in-depth discussion on the various excuses given by the group of people ignoring Jesus can be found in the Parable of the Dinner Guests.

The Highway Guests are Other People Back to Top ↑

Here, the parable divergences slightly from the Parable of the Tenants. In that parable, the rich man invited the poor, crippled, blind and lame, which represented followers of Jesus. Here, it seems we skip that step and go straight to inviting literally anyone that can be found on the street.

The Garment is having the Will of the Father Back to Top ↑

Regardless of how they were invited, the king expected his invitees to be proper, that is to be wearing the correct clothing for a wedding. And when he found one that was not, the king had him bound and taken out. In effect, the man was called from the highway to come to the wedding, but was not chosen to stay. This matches exactly with Jesus's ending statement: For many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:14 Likewise, many are called to be followers of Christ, but few will be chosen. Even if they think they are. If this was not the case, then Jesus would never have said, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 7:21

So what must you do to be chosen? It is simple, you must have the will of the Father. Read again that last verse, this time with empathisis: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 7:21 Just also says, For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. Matthew 12:50

Jesus explains that appearance is not important to have the will of the Father, but faith, when he talks about a man that had two sons. When the father requested them to do something, one of them said “yes” but did nothing, and the other said “no” but then did it. Of the two, the one that said he would not do the will of the father ended up doing it, thus showing that action, and not words or appearance is important.(Matthew 21:28-32.)

This goes against most denominational teachings. Most pastors say that to get into heaven, you must believe what Jesus did. This is faith-based salvation. Yet, Jesus shows that he is annoyed by those who only offer lip service, but then do nothing. The remaining pastors say that to get into heaven, you must be a good person. This is work-based salvation. Yet, Jesus showed that he despised the Pharisees, and they did everything correct... on the outside. So both options are wrong, which means we need to search for the truth that does not disagree with anything that Jesus said.

We need not search far. He that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 7:21 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. Matthew 7:24 cf. Luke 6:47, 48 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. John 3:21

Jesus says to do the will of the Father, and to do what he says. These things are one and the same, as Jesus says, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. John 5:19 And also, Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. John 14:10

If you obey Jesus, you will do the will of the Father. If you obey another man who came after Jesus, you will not do the will of the Father, and that will mean that Jesus will not choose you.

In Conclusion Back to Top ↑

This is a very simple parable when we are able to identify all the individual parts. Those that were bidden to enter the kingdom of God were unworthy, so the invitation is now open to anyone. However, those that come from the invitation must still be chosen, or they will be thrown out. The difficulties in this parable come from preconceived notions on ways to get into heaven, that do not involve doing what Jesus says, such as paying penance to the church or believing in spilt blood to pay sins.