Before we get into the parable I need to mention Matthew’s account. In Luke 14:16-24, we find a similar parable by Jesus to the one we have here in Matthew.
And many people interpret them both as variations of one original story. However, when you read the backgrounds and the details of both parables you will find that they’re both very different.
The parable in Matthew’s account is in close succession with the parable of ‘The Tenants’ and sounds a warning note to the Jews who would reject their Messiah.
The parable in Luke’s account however isn’t as severe in tone, yet it stands as a warning to all men that they shouldn’t take the kingdom for granted. And so the two parables are independent of each other but the obvious similarities are due to their common origin, Jesus Christ.
Jesus says a king sent his servants out with invitations to a wedding feast, this was an invitation for the Pharisees and Sadducees to submit to Jesus as King, Matthew 11:11 / Matthew 11:28-29 / Revelation 3:21. These servants were God’s messengers of old, Mark 1:1-4.
Trench, in his commentary, says the following.
‘This second summons I take to represent the invitation to the Jewish people, as it was renewed to them at the second epoch of the kingdom, that is, after the resurrection and ascension.’
1. God was willing to overlook the first blunt rejection of Christ, even his crucifixion, attributing it to ignorance, Acts 3:17.
2. Also, the Jews continued to have a priority in hearing the gospel for a long while after Pentecost, as indicated by Paul’s motto, ‘To the Jew first and also to the Greek,’ Romans 1:16.
Not only did the Jews reject the invite, and pay no attention to it, they also belittled it and made light of it, they carried on with life as usual.
Although they rejected God, He had warned them and disciplined them but still, they refused to repent. The Jews had been invited but refused to come, John 1:11 / Matthew 21:38-39.
God sent prophets to warn them of their punishment but the Israelites tortured and killed these messengers. Through the armies of Babylon and Rome, God punished the Jewish nation, Matthew 24:1-34.
The Jews judged themselves unworthy and so, it was needful that the message of the kingdom reign be preached to them in order that they have their chance to obey, Acts 13:46-48 / Acts 18:6.
The servant is commanded to go to the corners of the streets with an invitation, it didn’t matter if they were good or bad, all were invited, Matthew 13:3-9 / Matthew 13:36-43 / Matthew 13:47-48.
When the king arrives, he spotted someone who wasn’t wearing wedding clothes, in other words, they weren’t clothed with the righteousness that comes from God, but with their own righteousness, Ephesians 2:8-10.
Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.
‘This stands for the final inspection of all men in the judgment. To be sure, the King is constantly beholding the men of his kingdom, and continually observing the conduct of all his servants; but this coming in of the king on a formal and stated occasion to view the guests indicates a far more auspicious examination. It is the judgment of the great day when the King shall suddenly appear and review the credentials of those who have accepted his invitation. Judgment shall indeed begin at the house of God, 1 Peter 4:17.’
After asking the guest who wasn’t wearing wedding clothes, the man became speechless. He couldn’t defend himself or offer any kind of excuse.
The king commands his attendant to tie the man up and throw him outside, Matthew 8:12 / Galatians 4:30, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, Matthew 8:12 / Matthew 25:30.
Jesus is emphasizing His message of Matthew 21:43, that is, the rebellious of His generation will be cast out because they wouldn’t choose to accept Him as their king.
Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.
‘This does not bestow inquisitorial rights on God’s ministers in this dispensation. The exposure and punishment of that offender occurred at the arraignment before the king, not before. The servants in this verse therefore cannot be the apostles or ministers of the word, but the angels of God, Matthew 13:47ff. The punishment refers to hell, Matthew 25:46.’
Jesus openly declares that many are invited but few are chosen, Matthew 20:16. Even though the man was at the wedding feast, didn’t mean that the king favoured him being there.
As Christians, we too must be careful that we may well be in the church, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will receive eternal life, Revelation 3:18.
This is yet another example of a group of people who are trying to trap Jesus to find any excuse to have Him put to death. What’s interesting is that we also find an example of others giving someone else a loaded gun to shoot, whilst the people who gave them the loaded gun remain in the background because they’re not brave enough to do it themselves.
It’s obvious that the parables, Matthew 22:1-14, which Jesus had just finished teaching hit a nerve with the Pharisees, and as a result of this, in order to save their own skin and find an excuse to put Him to death, they wanted to find a way to humiliate Jesus in front of everyone else.
The Herodians were a political group that supported the Roman leader, King Herod Antipas, who reigned from 4 BC to AD 39. They wanted everyone to submit to the rule of Herod and they did so purely because of the financial gain they may receive and so they would be left alone in peace.
The Pharisees and others wanted Israel to follow the teachings of the Law but not with any Roman input, whilst the Herodians were willing to work with the Romans. They were the absolute opposite of those who believed that God and God alone should lead Israel.
When we read out New Testament we see that when two opposing groups have a common enemy, despite their beliefs they will come together and unite against the enemy, in this case, the common enemy was Jesus, Mark 3:6, but of course, Jesus knew their hearts too and warned against their teaching, Mark 8:15.
The Pharisees and the Herodians come to Jesus and use flattery as a trap, remember that the Herodians themselves taught that taxes must be paid to Rome. The ironic thing is that they spoke the truth about Jesus, everything they described Jesus to be was true.
They knew Jesus was straight-talking, they knew that He didn’t worry if people were offended when He spoke the truth and because they knew Jesus spoke against them and their teachings, they knew they had to get rid of Him because He was exposing their own hypocrisy, Matthew 21:28.
Obviously, they are trying to set the trap, they’re trying to set Jesus up for the question to come but as Anne Bradstreet once said, ‘Sweet words are like honey, a little may refresh, but too much gluts the stomach.’
In simple terms, they were asking Jesus this question based on the law of Moses. In other words, does the law of Moses, teach that one should pay taxes to a foreign state.
In their theology, if Jesus said they shouldn’t pay the taxes, He would be in violation of Roman law because Israel at the time was under the rule of Rome.
But if Jesus said to pay the taxes, then they believed that He would be in violation of Old Testament law as stated in Deuteronomy 17:14-15, which was given to Israel as a self-governing nation.
According to history, the Roman taxes were made up one per cent of a man’s income, much like today, the more money you earn the more tax you pay.
But we must also remember the Romans had other taxes, customs taxes, import and export taxes, toll bridges, crop taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, and special taxes when there was a war, building project or campaign to finance.
If Jesus had said it was unlawful to give to Caesar, there’s no doubt they would have dragged Him away to face the courts, charged with treason which of course was punishable by death.
If Jesus had said, it is right to pay tax to Caesar, this wouldn’t go down well with the people who were listening because they had longed to get out of the Roman bondage.
It’s almost amusing that they actually believed they have come up with a question that Jesus has no way out of, but instead of them humiliating Jesus, Jesus will end up humiliating them.
Notice how Jesus knew what they were up to and knew what their intent really was, John 2:24-25. Interestingly, those who are in positions of leadership always seem to be hypocritical of other religious leaders who hold a different view. The very fact that they set out to trap Jesus in the first place tells us a lot about the condition of their hearts.
The coin in question was a silver denarius which was worth around a day’s wages and engraved on it was the image of Caesar who was, the Emperor of Rome.
The second commandment of the ten commandments prohibited the Jews from making any graven image in order to symbolise the worship of gods in an idolatrous manner, Exodus 20:4.
Jesus tells them to pay the taxes regardless of whose image is on the coin. In other words, the money belongs to Caesar, therefore pay to him that which belongs to him, Mark 12:17 / Luke 20:25 / Romans 13:7.
They needed to learn that just because they pay tax to Caesar, doesn’t mean that they are worshipping Caesar, and on the other hand they needed to learn that everything ultimately belongs to God, therefore, our lives are given to God who created all men in His image, Genesis 1:26-27.
Remember the Jews weren’t to pay respect to images like that on the Roman coin, and when they realised this, they actually trapped themselves concerning paying taxes to a foreign government, Jesus says they must give their lives to God and give Caesar his taxes.
Jesus answered the Pharisees and the Herodian’s questions but not in the way they were expecting, their trap failed, and Jesus ended up trapping them.
They came to humiliate Him, but He humiliated them. they were amazed and left because they knew they didn’t get one single thing from Jesus that they could use against Him, John 8:1-11.
As Christians, we must obey our government and pay our taxes, whilst at the same time obeying our God in whom whose image we are made.
There are genuine people out there who have genuine questions in their hearts which need to be answered honestly but there will also be those among us even today, who try to trap us with double-edged questions, may we be wise enough to recognise the trap and answer with wisdom, Proverbs 15:1-2 / Proverbs 26:4.
The Sadducees were a religious sect in the time of Jesus. Their origin is not known for sure. Some think they date back to Zadock, a high priest during the time of David and Solomon. However, in all probability, they came into existence during the period between the Old and New Testaments.
We do know that they came from the leading families of the nation such as the priests, merchants, and the rich. They can well be described as aristocrats. The high priests, the most powerful members of the priesthood were mainly Sadducees, Acts 5:17.
One of the distinguishing marks of the Sadducees was their rejection of the ‘traditions of the elders’ advocated by the Pharisees. They claimed that God not only gave Moses a written law, but also an oral law which was passed down and given to the elders.
They in turn passed these oral laws on down to their successors. The Pharisees claimed the oral law was needed to interpret the written Law of Moses. They regarded these traditions as important as the Law of Moses itself.
By contrast, the Sadducees insisted that only the laws written by Moses, the Pentateuch, and the first five books of the Old Testament, were the only binding laws.
In short, the main difference between the two parties was confined, on the whole, to this general rejection of Pharisaic traditions. With the Sadducees, little value was placed on the writings of the Prophets or the Psalms. They didn’t outright reject them, but they didn’t feel they were on an equal with the Pentateuch.
The most prominent doctrine of the Sadducees was the denial of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. They believed that the soul dies with the body, thus the extinction of life. The Sadducees said that Moses nowhere mentions anything about a soul or a resurrection.
From Acts 23:8, we learn that they didn’t believe in either angels or spirits. However, angels are mentioned several times in the writings of Moses.
In view of this, it’s difficult to see how they could harmonise this with their denial of angels. They may have regarded angels as simply God appearing in some kind of visible form.
The Sadducees also believed in the free will of man, man is responsible for his own prosperity or misfortune. They interpreted the law literally and tended to support strict justice as opposed to mercy toward the offender.
Considering their concept of no life after death it seems strange to us that they were so intent on punishing those who violated the law. Stranger yet, why would they want to be priests and religious leaders if there is no resurrection? The answer may lie in their belief that God prospered the righteous.
Just like the Pharisees before them, the Sadducees’ question was all about trying to trap Jesus. When you think about the actual question, the woman being widowed seven times, the possibility of this actually happening in real life is almost none, which tells us that this wasn’t a sincere question, it was a question asked to try and support their idea that there is no resurrection.
The law, which is referred to as the ‘levirate law’, was based on the principle that the family name of the dead brother is carried on throughout history, Genesis 38:8 / Ruth 3:5-6.
Moses said that if the older brother, who had a legal right to continue the family name and the birthright, died leaving his wife without children, his brother must raise up children by the dead brother’s wife, Deuteronomy 25:5-10.
They asked a question designed to show that the doctrine of the resurrection was absurd. It involved the invented case of a woman who was married to seven brothers in succession. They asked Jesus to tell them whose wife she would be in the resurrection since all of them had been married to her.
Their question was meant to show a supposed contradiction in the teaching of Jesus, but they didn’t know the Old Testament Scriptures or the power of God.
I think it’s useful to go to Luke’s account at this point as he gives us a little more detail, Luke 20:34-37.
In Luke’s accounts how Jesus speaks of two ages, ‘this age’ and ‘the age to come’, if this doesn’t tell us that there’s definitely life after death, I don’t know what will.
It’s interesting that Jesus just goes with their thought process and despite the chances of this happening, the woman being widowed six times previous, Christ, resolved the issue, not based on what Moses said, but on what God said, in other words, Christ tells them, it isn’t Moses they are quoting but God.
The Old Testament Scriptures do teach about the resurrection, whether the Jews understood this or not, they couldn’t deny what the Scriptures actually said concerning the resurrection, Job 19:25-27 / Isaiah 26:19 / Daniel 12:2.
It’s clear that the Sadducees didn’t understand that there is life after death and they certainly didn’t believe in the power of God, this was simply because of their ignorance of what the Scriptures actually teach. Jesus confirms there will be a resurrection, but He also tells them there will be no marriage at the resurrection, just like angels don’t marry.
There will be no marriage or procreation in heaven, for the purpose of procreation would have fulfilled its purpose. Procreation was for the purpose of populating the world. Heaven, however, will be populated by those who were born again in this world.
We also know there will be no death in heaven either, Luke 20:35-36 / 1 Corinthians 15:26 / Revelation 20:13-14. Our earthly relationships will be superseded by a state wherein we will be like angels who now exist, Luke 20:36 / Hebrews 1:14 / 1 John 3:2.
Even though the Sadducees didn’t ask Him about angels, I believe Jesus mentioned the angels on purpose, as like we looked at earlier they didn’t believe in angels.
And so, we could say, they came asking one question, but Jesus actually answers two questions, He tells them they’re thinking, and doctrine is wrong on both counts. There is a resurrection and angels do exist.
The phrases ‘God’s children’ and ‘children of the resurrection’ are used to mean the same thing, it’s God’s pledge for His children, Romans 8:21 / Romans 8:23, and as we know the resurrection is absolutely fundamental to the Christian faith, Hebrews 6:1-2.
It’s important to point out that Jesus uses the Greek present progressive tense here, and in doing so, He’s pointing out the fact that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still living at the time God made this statement and at the time Jesus referred to it, Genesis 17:2 / Genesis 26:24 / Genesis 28:21 / Exodus 3:6 / Exodus 3:15.
Jesus is saying that when a person dies, God doesn’t stop being their God and because He doesn’t stop being their God, tells us that the righteous don’t cease to exist when they die.
In other words, the souls of people are kept by God until the resurrection, after which we all will receive our new resurrected bodies which are made for eternal purposes in heaven, John 5:28-29 / 1 Corinthians 15:35-55 / 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.
Notice it was ‘the teachers of law’ who responded to Jesus’ teaching, you can hear them say, ‘bravo, bravo, teacher’ and sniggering amongst themselves as Jesus seems to side with their theology about the resurrection and angels, Luke 20:39-40.
It’s also interesting that Matthew doesn’t tell us that the Sadducees were astonished at Jesus’ teaching, but he says ‘the crowds’ were astonished.
It appears the crowds had heard the Sadducees’ theology for years, but no one really seemed to question their beliefs. The Sadducees, like the Pharisees before them, seem to disappear off the scene, no doubt feeling embarrassed and ashamed and no one else dared to ask Jesus any more questions.
As with the Pharisees, their whole religion was one of pretence, in other words, they pretended to know the Scriptures when in fact they didn’t know the Scriptures.
And so, when Jesus comes along and shows how far off their understanding of the Scriptures actually was, the crowd were astonished.
We can almost hear the relief in the crowd, ‘at last’, they cry, ‘Someone who knows what they’re talking about, Someone who actually knows and understands the Scriptures correctly’.
If we learn anything from Jesus’ dealing with the Sadducees, it’s simply this, we must know the Scriptures. You’ll be amazed at how many Christians misquote Scripture, maybe in ignorance, as I’ve done in the past, but there are others who deliberately mis-quote Scripture to defend their personal beliefs.
If you listen carefully, you will hear it from the pulpit, you will hear it on the TV and everyone says the ‘amen’ without realising that they have just been lied to, 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
I was reading the ‘Christian’ survey just the other week and found it shocking that many Christians don’t even possess a Bible, I was even more shocked that those who do own one, don’t read it, and some only read it on a Sunday morning. No wonder people are being led astray and come to believe all kinds of erroneous teachings!
It’s a sad fact that many churches don’t have any Bible study time and those who do, don’t have many members in attendance. I’m not saying that others don’t study at home or by themselves but one of the best ways to know the Scriptures is by sitting in a Bible class, where you are encouraged to read the Bible for yourself, a Bible class where your encouraged to ask questions and share your opinion, whilst learning from others, Acts 2:42 / 2 Timothy 2:15.
The religious leaders are around trying to trap Him. The Herodians come to Jesus and tried to catch Him out. As soon as they are silenced, the Sadducees come along. And they too try to trick Jesus. And finally, we have the Pharisees, the teachers of the nation.
And from Matthew 22, it seems as though one young man, an expert in the law, Luke 7:30 / Luke 10:25, pushed his way forward to ask Jesus another trick question to try and trap Him.
And Jesus looks at this young man and I wonder if there wasn’t a look of sympathy on His face! This man had been so wrongly informed about Jesus, I don’t think he would believe anything that Jesus would tell him anyway.
But you can imagine that man standing back and waiting for the answer from Jesus. And Jesus deliberately quotes from the Old Testament. A passage of scripture that every faithful Jew would recite twice every day. It’s known as ‘The Schema’, from Deuteronomy 6:4-6.
Jesus says we are to love God with all our heart, our soul and our mind, Matthew 6:33 / 1 John 14:15, and we are to love our neighbours as yourself, Matthew 19:19 / Leviticus 19:18 / Galatians 5:14 / Galatians 5:22-23. Love is the motivation by which law is put into action in our lives, Romans 3:31.
I want you to notice something about that passage of Scripture in Mark’s account because it looks like the scribe was surprised at the answer, Mark 12:32.
Also notice when Jesus SAW, that he answered wisely, Jesus didn’t just hear that young man speaking to Him, He SAW on his face an honest expression when Jesus SAW that he answered wisely. Jesus said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’, Mark 12:34.
I believe that Jesus saw in that man’s face, faith and honesty. Here is a man who many might call a rationalist, or a ritualist. But there, standing before Jesus was a man who seems to have more understanding than those who had been trying to trap Jesus. And Jesus can bless a person like this abundantly.
And notice that after this no one dared to ask Him any more questions, Mark 12:34. They stopped their schemes to trap Jesus in some argument since they had failed to win any of their arguments. The schemes of entrapment thus stopped, and they moved to scheme how they might physically take Him.
After weathering their barrage of questions, Jesus asked His opponents a question, how could the Christ be both David’s son and David’s Lord?
This question was crucial because the scribes’ objection to Jesus was that He, a mere man they thought claimed divine authority. Jesus showed by His question that the Old Testament had predicted that the Messiah would be both David’s son, human and David’s Lord, divine, Psalm 132:11 / Matthew 1:1 / Matthew 21:9.
The dilemma is how could David, call one of his descendants Lord, Psalm 110:l, when according to Jewish practice the descendant king should refer to his father or ancestor king as lord.
What Jesus argued is that Psalm 110:1 is a prophecy by David of the Christ. David didn’t make the statement concerning himself, Acts 2:34 / Hebrews 1:13.
An important point in Mark in the context of these events is that the common people received Jesus, Mark 12:37. They weren’t part of the religious hierarchy of the religious establishment. They weren’t puffed up by their religious training or the positions they held.
They weren’t part of the religious politics that constantly intimidated the religious leaders into conformity with the accepted traditions and practices of Judaism.
They didn’t stumble over their pride but accepted Jesus for who He was. They were the true Israel by faith who accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
Jesus used religious leaders to take Himself to the cross since the leaders had fallen from God. Though the Jews could not actually carry out the death sentence, they were the ones who called on the Romans to crucify Jesus.
Peter later identified them as the ones who had to carry the blame for crucifying the Son of God. Leaders would do well to continually check their motives by the word of God. God’s leaders must continually caution themselves with God’s word in order to guard themselves from working against Him.
The Pharisees were left speechless, and from that day on, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions, Mark 12:34 / Luke 14:6 / Luke 20:40.