The Parable Of The Wedding Banquet


‘Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business.’ Matthew 22:1-5

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, but they also belittled it and made light of it, they carried on with life as usual.

‘The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. ‘ Matthew 22:6-7

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.

‘Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.’ Matthew 22:8-11

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 streets corners 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.’

‘He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:12-14

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.