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Texts: Matt: 22:1-10, 14 (ESV)

v.1-10 -"And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests."

v.14 -For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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  • Oooo - this is Soooo contentious. I doubt that we will resolve it here
    – Dottard
    Oct 14 '21 at 20:14
  • Hi Sam. Any particular reason why you left out vv. 11-13? I think they do contribute to what "choosing" means. Oct 15 '21 at 22:44
  • @Martin Hemsley - Thank you for your questioning. I welcome your comments on v.1 -14. V. I understand v. 10 -13 deals with a man in the banquet hall without a wedding garment -only possible in this world. For, on that day, without the "wedding garment," one cannot even enter the Wedding place.
    – Sam
    Oct 16 '21 at 5:40
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Challenges to answering this question

  1. Parables have a main central point and aren't intended for us to interpret as an allegory.

  2. I will concentrate on what the parable is saying but this question is loaded with theology.

This is a parable in Matt. 22:1-10 about the Kingdom of God. Matthew used Kingdom of Heaven to avoid using God, an indication that his primary intended readers where Jews. Luke 14:15–24 is a parallel passage. The Jewish view of the Great Banquet was based on Isaiah 25:6–9.

6  On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7  And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8  He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9  It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (ESV)

The difference between the parable recorded by Matthew and by Luke may be that both condense a longer parable, or Jesus presented the parable differently at different times. Matthew's account does give information more concerned with the Jews, while Luke's with what would concern the gentiles.

First we need to ask, "What did the parable means to those listening to Jesus?" Those listening were also Jews.

The king is God and his servants are Moses and the prophets. The guest initially invited is Israel. Matthew's account drew out a relation of historic events with the Jews. They would see how the prophets were treated and remember how Jerusalem was destroyed during the captivity. However, Matthew in v2 has "wedding feast for his son," which would lead Jewish Christian to see Jesus predicting the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem.

Luke's account emphasized those initially accepting the invitation turning away from the banquet. Matthew mentions the man not properly dressed in the group latter invited.

In contemporary Western society banquets usually have two invitations. The first is often made over the telephone. On the day of the dinner party the guests assemble and are seated until the magical moment when the host or hostess appears and announces, “The food is on the table. Please come in.” Everyone proceeds without delay to the table and the meal begins.

Imagine a contemporary Western scene in which the guests arrive and are seated in the living room. When the food is ready the hostess invites the guests to take their places but, to the shock of all, they offer excuses and head for the door. One says, “I have to mow the lawn.” The second blurts out, “I must feed the cat.” The third says, “There are bills on my desk waiting to be paid.” And the three walk out the door! -- Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes cultural studies in the gospels,InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois (2008), p.113

Conclusion

For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matt 22:14)

God did/does the calling through his servants. From this parable, all who are invited are called. "Few are chosen" by the very structure of wording refers to people being chosen. So, it is God doing the choosing.

You may have a strong view of God's sovereignty and see God as choosing before the world was created, or a weaker view that sees God as establishing the criteria for choosing before creation with the choice made later, but the following is apparently the point.

The fact that all invited are not all chosen means God put the responsibility on people to make the choice. The invitation is there. It is up to the people to accept and show up. That being the central theme is probably the most we can validly draw out of the parable. This does show the coexistence of God's sovereignty and human choice.

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Matthew 22:

1And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast,

Who does the calling?

The king does the calling using his servants. The king here is God.

but they would not come.

These choose not to show up. They volitionally decide not to attend.

4Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’

Many people are called over and over again by different servants, this time with more attractive details. Again, God does the calling through his servants.

5But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.

This time, their reactions are worse. They do not just refuse to show up. They decide to kill God's servants.

There is a twist in the story on those who have shown up in the wedding:

11“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

There is another selection process at the wedding. This one is performed by the king.

14For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Who does the choosing in the parable of Wedding?

People can choose not to join the wedding. Further, God chooses who is allowed to remain at the wedding.

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First of all, let’s be clear. This parable is about the most common topic in Jesus’ teachings – salvation, or eternal life. In fact, a few chapters earlier he described the purpose of his ministry this way.

"For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost". Mt. 18:11

If you think about it, nothing could be more important, right? That is why it is essential to understand what parables like these are saying.

The main point Jesus is making is that many who assume they will be saved, will not be (many called, few chosen). The Jews thought they would be saved because they supposedly were the chosen people and they knew the one true God. Jesus told them not very subtly that they were not worthy of the kingdom of Heaven and would be punished for hating and murdering the servants of God. Since the Jews rejected the Gospel, the door was opened for the Gentiles.

9Go therefore to the crossroads and invite to the banquet as many as you can find.’ 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered everyone they could find, both evil and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

This gives us a clue as to who the called are. Jesus said that if he would be lifted up, he would draw all men to himself (Jn. 12:32). All are invited, many are called, few are chosen. So this parable makes it clear that the called are the ones who show interest in the Gospel. They accept the invitation and show up.

As in the parable of the sower, the seeds land in different types of ground. Only in the good ground does it actually bring fruit leading to salvation. Jesus illustrated that point here as well.

11But when the king came in to see the guests, he spotted a man who was not dressed in wedding clothes. 12‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But the man was speechless. 13Then the king told the servants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The man may have considered himself a believer, but he did not fulfill the requirements of entering into the kingdom Heaven. He had no defense because no one will have an excuse for not paying whatever price necessary to follow Christ. Romans 13:14 helps clarify what that means.

Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. BSB

We can not be saved by our own works, or do things our way and expect to be saved. We must do things his way, shun the lusts of the flesh, and be clothed by his righteousness in order to be chosen by him.

Lest anyone think that this is just an isolated example, Jesus then proclaims this sobering warning to us all,

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Let us work diligently for the kingdom of heaven while it is still day so that we may be among the chosen few.

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I see many layers of revelation in this passage.

  1. The Jewish people (invited servants) rejected their Messiah, so the Gentiles (street people) have now been invited.
  2. Those who take light the call of God (Matt 22:5) and focus on worldly pursuits will not get around to responding, even persecuting the messengers (Christian witnesses) to still their consciences.
  3. God is no respecter of persons, looking for people who will simply believe Him and respond. (Acts 10:34, Rom 2:11)
  4. The pangs spiritual re-birth has to be carried by someone, so if you were born-again, God made a way for you via another person's intercession. i.e. you were chosen. The odds were not high that the Holy Spirit would bring conviction to you leading to repentance. But you were born into a situation where someone bore your pangs. (Gal 4:19, Isa 26:17)
Edit:
I also recently heard an interesting sermon on this topic by the late Derek Prince. Among other things, it persuaded me not to view the Jewish people in a negative lens. Here is the link
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  • Hey Keenan, what scriptural evidence can you provide for your beliefs? The man who was improperly dressed responded, but was not chosen. You place high value on intercession, which is good, but where does it say that someone must bear our pangs for spiritual rebirth? Oct 17 '21 at 21:16
  • @MartinHemsley Thank you for your comment! I updated my answer. Dec 4 '21 at 14:36
  • Thanks, Keenan. Derek was a powerful teacher. What I was questioning is the role of birth pangs in someone else's salvation. In Isaiah, it was to no avail for some. Paul was worried that his pain would be in vain for the foolish and fickle Galatians. It is a high and important calling but I don't know if we can say it is essential for someone's salvation and the concept is not reflected in the passage being discussed. Dec 5 '21 at 18:23

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