“Jesus told them several other stories to illustrate the Kingdom. He said, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. Many guests were invited, and when the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify everyone that it was time to come. But they all refused!’” (Matthew 22:1-3, NLT)
Of the three consecutive parables found in The Gospel According to St. Matthew that specifically deal with Jesus the Christ’s teachings on the TRUE obedient faith, the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (cf. Matthew 22:1-14) makes it clear to today’s believers that just because they have sent an “accept” RSVP to God, promising that they will be in attendance at His Son’s Wedding Banquet, their acceptance of God’s invitation doesn’t mean that they will prepare for the Marriage Supper of the Lord in an appropriate manner. For this reason, Jesus the Christ’s three parables about believers’ TRUE obedient faith progressively explain the kind of faith that God’s children must exhibit in order for them to be considered His true sons and daughters (see parable #1, which focuses on John the Baptist’s ministry, cf. Matthew 21:28-32; parable #2, which deals with the Old Testament prophets’ ministry, cf. Matthew 21:33-44; and parable #3, which is about Jesus the Christ’s mission and ministry, cf. Matthew 22:1-14).
Each of the three true obedient faith parables refers to the same situation and setting (the one about the two sons, which is Matthew 21:28-32; the one about the wicked tenant farmers, which is Matthew 21:33-44; and the one about the Wedding Banquet guests, which is Matthew 22:1-14). These three parables’ shared situation deals with Jesus the Christ’s divine sonship and the people who become God’s adopted true sons and daughters through faith in His only begotten Son. These three parables’ shared setting is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb’s preparation times—the time of the Old Testament prophets’ ministry, the time of Jesus the Christ and the first-century apostles’ ministry, and the time of Gentile spiritual leaders’ calling, inviting, evangelizing, discipling, and warning. These banquet preparations, thus, begin in the distant past, centuries before the birth of Jesus the Christ, and continue long after the Lord’s first coming, even in this modern day!
Without doubt, today’s believers are no different than the majority of the Jewish people who lived “before” Jesus the Christ’s bodily first coming, or those who lived during the time of His earthly ministry. Just as very few of the individuals who lived during ancient biblical times readily accepted God’s first two invitations, and just as very few of them spiritually prepared themselves to be worthy to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, the same is true of modern-day people. Nevertheless, because God foreknew that many “chosen” people would renege on their “accept” RSVP, and that many others would choose to send a “decline” RSVP, these are some of the reasons why He extends multiple invitations. His eternal compassion, love, and interest in ALL of His human creations have been such that, from the foundation of this world, God has not wanted ANYONE to miss out on the Wedding Feast—not any of His (1) “chosen” Old Testament Jewish people, not any of His (2) “chosen” New Testament Jewish people, and certainly not any of His (3) “subsequently chosen” New Testament Gentile nations.
Likewise, as it was in ancient biblical times, there are too many twenty-first century “called out ones” who are operating under the erroneous understanding that just because they have given an “accept” RSVP to God’s Wedding Banquet invitation that they definitely will be in the Bride’s seat at that feast. The truth is that many people who have accepted Jesus the Christ as their Lord and Savior will NOT be prepared for their Bridegroom’s promised return, and they (potential Bride of Christ candidates), therefore, will NOT be snatched away (raptured) when Jesus the Christ comes back on a cloud to take them to their heavenly mansion (wedding chamber).
In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, which is about CHURCH-Age believers’ improperly clothed spiritual responses to God’s third invitation to His Son’s Wedding Feast, it is evident that the king in this parable is Father God, that the son is the Bridegroom (Jesus the Christ, the ONLY begotten Son of God), that the wedding guests initially are God’s chosen Jewish people, and then later the wedding guests are the Gentile nations who become the collective Body of Christ (a.k.a., the Bride of Christ or the CHURCH—believers from the Age of Grace, which is the present Church Age), and that the servants are the New Testament’s John the Baptist, Jesus the Christ, the first-century apostles, and other martyred church leaders who have been “called” into service throughout the current Church Age. Also a servant reference is made about the Old Testament’s prophets—those who prophesied about salvation and the Messiah before the Age of Grace and the CHURCH.
Moreover, in this same banquet parable, the Jewish people living during Jesus the Christ’s ministry represent the invited “guests,” those who not only give God a “decline” RSVP by rejecting God’s invitation for them to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven and sit at the Lord’s Table, but also they are the ones who take part in Jesus the Christ’s crucifixion. Furthermore, because these Wedding Banquet invitees are more concerned with their everyday lives—more concerned with business as usual—than they are concerned with their promised Lord and Savior’s first coming, they end up rejecting Jesus the Christ’s Son of God claims and then they take part in His crucifixion, killing Him primarily because of His divinity claims. Moreover, as Jesus the Christ predicts, many Jewish religious leaders will participate in promoting hatred for Gospel messengers, and they even will persecute many believers who follow the Gospel’s teachings (cf. Matthew 22:4-6 and the parallel Scriptures in Luke 14:18-20).
In this Wedding Banquet Parable, Jesus the Christ teaches about the Jewish people’s mistreatment of their prophets/servants, both Old and New Testament prophets/servants, as well as the future first-century apostles, and the later spiritual leaders. The Lord says that Father God, the King, has “…sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared, and choice meats have been cooked. Everything is ready. ‘Hurry!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went about their business, one to his farm, another to his store. Others seized his messengers and treated them shamefully, even killing some of them ” (Matthew 22:4-6, NLT). Consequently, the Jewish nation’s rejection of Jesus the Christ results in Father God, the King, allowing the Jewish invitees’ sacred city, Jerusalem, to be burned. Jesus the Christ makes this future 70 A.D. prediction, when He says that the “…king…sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their city” (Matthew 22:7, NLT).
Now, after the King’s initial invitees give God a “decline” RSVP, He then not only proclaims that these invitees are not worthy to receive His most gracious invitation but also declares that these invitees’ rejection of His saving Grace or eternal plan of redemption makes it possible for God to now offer His saving Grace to so-called outcasts (to the Gentile nations). For sure, God ALWAYS has intended that Jesus the Christ’s true mission would be to save the whole world—to be Lord and Savior of every man and every woman who was born before Jesus the Christ’s first coming, and Lord and Savior of every man and every woman who would be born before Jesus the Christ’s second coming—that He would die to save EVERYONE, Hebrews and Gentiles, and the good and the bad!
Once again, the aforesaid so-called outcasts represent the Gentile believers who have accepted Jesus the Christ’s invitation to be their Lord and Savior, but there are a few Messianic Jews included in this number, too. Moreover, even though the Bride of Christ is not mentioned explicitly in the Wedding Banquet parable, Jesus the Christ implicitly mentions His Bride when He says that God tells His servants: “‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see’” (Matthew 22:8-9, NLT). There are many Scriptures that speak of the Wedding Feast being prepared specifically for the Bride of Christ (the CHURCH, which is primarily the Gentile nations), so even though Jesus the Christ doesn’t explicitly say that the Wedding Feast is for His special guests—His Bride or the CHURCH, the “called out ones,” the discipled believers who come from the four corners of the world—still the collective Bride of Christ is understood to be God’s invited privileged/favored guests. Therefore, the sending of His servants into the streets (metaphorically speaking, the Gentile nations; cf. Matthew 22:9, NIV) represents the Great Commission.
One of the most negative outcomes of the Great Commission is that there are far too many born again and saved Gentiles in today’s local churches who are NOT sold out for Jesus the Christ, as evidenced by the kinds of lifestyles they live—the ways they are responding to God’s invitation. For sure, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers have been about Father God’s business of evangelizing and discipling all ethnic groups located throughout this world; however, even though many of these servants of God, as Jesus the Christ says, have “…brought in everyone they could find…” (Matthew 22:10a, NLT), today’s CHURCH (Body of Christ or the parable’s banquet hall invitees) has become filled with a mixture of people who are “…good and bad…” (Matthew 22:10, NLT). In essence, there are believers in local churches throughout this world who are behaving just like the world rather than living like God expects His “called out ones” to live. The kind of Kingdom of Heaven lifestyle that God expects His children to live is a lifestyle of holiness and righteousness. That is why He called the members in the Body of Christ out of sin’s darkness and into the presence of His marvelous Light.
Now, it is undeniable that there are unsaved people sitting on the pews in today’s churches, but what most believers don’t realize is that many believers are included in Jesus the Christ’s number of the CHURCH’s “bad” members who have given God an “accept” RSVP—those who pay lip service to the Lord but their hearts/human spirits are far from Him. This last statement is confirmed by Jesus the Christ’s reference to one of the wedding guests who is inappropriately dressed. Jesus the Christ says: “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding” (Matthew 22:11, NLT).
For sure, the world today, including the CHURCH, is concerned with outward appearances. That is why, where many believers are concerned, if a person comes to church regularly, and if that person is involved in church activities like preaching in the pulpit, or teaching Sunday School and Bible Study, or singing in choirs, or participating in cell groups, or going on mission trips, and so forth, then that person often is thought to be a holy and righteous person—thought to be a person who is wearing a “righteous garment.” However, in the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, Jesus the Christ is making it clear that, unlike it is with humans who look on the outward appearance, God is concerned about the inward appearance—about the heart’s clothing (human spirit’s attitudes)! According to Jesus the Christ, God addresses the heart’s clothing—believers’ inner attitudes about the Divine Truths about their God, their Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit—in this manner: “‘Friend’…how is it that you are here without wedding clothes’” (Matthew 22:12a, NLT)? According to Jesus the Christ, “…the man had no reply” (Matthew 22:12b, NLT).
Concerning our inner heart’s clothing, if we are like the person in this parable, then we will be people who are attempting to enter into the Wedding Feast inappropriately dressed. The man in this parable symbolizes a person who believes in the CHURCH and in Jesus the Christ; yet, this person obviously has REFUSED to put on righteousness and holiness. In other words, this person has rebelled against the king’s (God’s) authority, majesty, and explicit expectation pertaining to wedding guests having a spirit that conforms to the Be-Attitudes, a spirit that fully comprehends the spiritual implications of living a pure, holy, and righteous life just like Jesus the Christ lived.
Indeed, Jesus the Christ is saying in this Wedding Banquet parable that not only did this guest come to the Wedding Feast without wearing the appropriate wedding attire, but also this guest did so intentionally. This guest decided against wearing the correct clothing, even though he has had access to the available proper garments, and even though God has given this guest ample time to prepare for the Wedding Banquet (nearly 2000 CHURCH-Age years). The man’s attire, thus, did not symbolize habitual sincerity, repentance, humility, compassion, love and obedience, which are the Christ-like characteristics that the true wedding garment would symbolize. Moreover, this guest should have replaced his street clothes with a true wedding garment, but instead he comes in his street clothes—in clothes that symbolize the carnal habits of pride, rebellion, and sinfulness.
Thus, if we are like the rebellious guest in the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, Jesus the Christ will rebuke our Pharisaical display of outward (eternal) righteousness, just like He rebuked the first century A.D. Pharisees for their outward display of hypocritical righteousness. At best, the Pharisees, whom Jesus the Christ specifically criticizes in the Sermon on the Mount, ONLY had hypocritical righteousness. Inwardly, because of their own “leaven,” their evil corruption of God’s Laws and their hypocritical righteousness, the Pharisees and Sadducees’ hearts (human spirits) were rotten as rotten could be. This is why the Pharisees only could stress the letter of the Law (literal interpretation), for they never understood and therefore never could applied the full Spirit (intent) of the Law! Moreover, not being able to apply the intent of the Law is why we, if we, like the Pharisees and Sadducees, only have an external disingenuous righteousness, also will be like the guest who comes to the wedding purposely dressed in the wrong garment, and having NO reply for the King, when He asks: Why are you not wearing the appropriate wedding attire?
Because of these religious leaders’ hypocritical righteousness, Jesus the Christ, through his many New Testament parabolic comparisons, teaches us that any person who is one thing on the outside and yet another on the inside, he or she is someone who is NOT one of God’s true faith believers, because this person is NOT being obedient to God’s command to live a lifestyle of holiness and righteousness, which flows from the inner spirit. In other words, a person’s external appearance MUST reflect that person’s inner attitudes. Any incongruity, that is, if what people see is really different from what people expect to see, which is the manifestation of the Christ-like characteristics that should be in the human spirit, this difference would mean that this person isn’t living a holy and righteous life!
Therefore, if a person thinks that he or she can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven without putting on (developing) the appropriate Christ-like character, as demonstrated by the works he or she would do that are backed up by his or her faith (a person’s total trust in God), then this person will soon realize that the ultimate punishment for not wearing the appropriate heart’s clothing will be that he or she will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Here are Jesus the Christ’s concluding Wedding Banquet words pertaining to the fate of this symbolic wedding guest who comes to God’s Wedding Banquet wearing unsuitable clothing: “ Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen ” (Matthew 22:13-14, NLT). The moral of this parable is in verse 14. God has invited us to eat at Jesus the Christ’s Wedding Table—God has invited us to become the true Bride of Christ (the CHURCH) who will be the participants in the future Marriage Supper of the Lord—but only a few of us are responding in the proper manner that would cause us to be chosen/invited as believers who are worthy to be seated the Lord’s Table!
If we ever hope to enter into the heavenly Kingdom of God and sit down at the Lord’s Table, then we must be aware of how we appear to God, now, so that if changes need to be made they can be achieved on this side of the Rapture. Since any opportunity for salvation is by Father God’s special invitation (by God’s Grace), He, thus, automatically lists in the “guest” category anyone He calls/invites to receive His salvation gift, which transforms and makes every recipient a “worthy” invitee. For this reason, every called/invited “guest” must put on the appropriate wedding garment, or be cast out of the wedding hall—denied a seat at the wedding table! There will be NO exceptions! That’s why the spiritual implication of the Parable of the Wedding Banquet is that, even though all born again believers are saved by Grace, not all of today’s born again and saved believers will be serious enough about their salvation to prepare their heart’s clothing (to take the time to develop a holy and righteous heart for God) by doing holy and righteous deeds for others! In essence, the Kingdom of Heaven’s holiness and righteousness, those God and Christ-like characteristics, are not being reflected in the “works” that many of today’s believers are doing for God!
Furthermore, just as the Jewish people’s indifference, hostility, and spiritual blindness have caused them to reject God’s loving call to redemption, a rejection which ultimately has led to their condemnation (their branches being broken off the Olive Tree), believing Gentiles need to realize that they must respond faithfully to God’s redemptive call to holiness and righteousness or also suffer condemnation. Now, the Apostle Paul says: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1, KJV), but the operative phrase in that verse is NOT “no condemnation”; the operative phrase in Romans 8:1 is “after the Spirit.”
The fact that some of today’s believers in Jesus the Christ are displaying indifference (a rebellious attitude toward God’s commands which causes them to choose to satisfy their own selfish lusts), hostility to God’s Gospel messengers and Gospel believers (hatred for spiritual leaders and followers of Jesus the Christ), and spiritual blindness (an intentional or unintentional hardhearted attitude toward the Divine Truth; or, some sacrilegious beliefs) only serves to prove that these people are walking after their carnal (fleshly) desires and evil thoughts of their mind rather than walking “after the Spirit.” Therefore, since they are not being controlled and led by the Holy Spirit, then they will receive condemnation/judgment!
Without a doubt, modern-day believers will be judged unworthy to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, if they do not live a holy and righteous lifestyle in Jesus the Christ, which is achieved through progressive sanctification (the work of God’s Holy Spirit) and the daily studying of the Word of God. Moreover, for the believers’ whose human spirits (hearts) are not clothed in the God-kind of holiness and righteousness, they will find themselves left behind, after the Rapture of the CHURCH takes place, which means that their condemnation/judgment is that they will suffer the Tribulation Period and possibly suffer the fate of being cast “into outer darkness”—the Lake of Fire.
What will our RSVP be to the King’s invitation? If our response is an initial “yes,” but then we end up being improperly clothed spiritual heirs, even though we have accepted Jesus the Christ as our personal Savior, at the time of the Rapture, our carelessness, inattentiveness (being unprepared), and unwillingness (refusing to be watchful) will cause our Bridegroom to reject us and judge us to be unworthy to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. We then also will enter into the Tribulation Period, and, if we survive this dreadful time, at the end of the Tribulation Period, as long as we haven’t accepted the mark of the Beast, we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. However, we will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven in glorified bodies, and, as such, this truth means that many of us will die a physical death during Jesus the Christ’s millennial reign!
If our response is like that of the inappropriately dressed wedding guest (a member of the Body of Christ/CHURCH/Bride of Christ), who intentionally dresses in his street clothes and then tries to enter the Lord’s Wedding Feast, we again will be left behind to suffer the Tribulation Period. Our carnal habits of pride, rebellion, and sinfulness will cause us to reject God’s approved “righteous garment,” and because we know that we MUST come wearing appropriate wedding clothing, that which symbolizes habitual sincerity, repentance, humility, compassion, love, and obedience, but we still rebel against God’s expectations, after the Tribulation Period, if we are survivors who have accepted the mark of the Beast, we immediately will be condemned to the Lake of Fire.
If our response is a flat out “no,” because we believe that we have found another way to get into Heaven, or because we prefer New Age spirituality that we believe is better than that which God’s Holy Bible prescribes, then, like many of the Pharisees and Sadducees who possessed a corrupt religiosity/spirituality, we will be branches that have been cut off from the Olive Tree. We also will be left behind to face the Tribulation Period. After those seven years, if we have survived, we will be separated from the Tribulation Saints (the Wheat) and then immediately condemned to an eternity in the Lake of Fire—sent to outer darkness, where there will be much weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
Finally, Jesus the Christ makes it absolutely clear that the only RSVP response that will matter to God is that response which is an initial “yes” followed by a progressive inward change—a sanctified spirit/heart that is habitually sincere, repentant, humble, compassionate, loving, and obedient. We MUST have, and we MUST display these Christ-like characteristics! Without them, we will have no hope of being glorified—no hope of being counted in the number of those born again and saved believers who will be the raptured Bride of Christ. Only the true Bride of Christ will be saved from the seven years of the Tribulation Period—only the true Bride will go to Heaven and stay there until the Tribulation Period is over. Then the true Bride of Christ will come out of Heaven’s Bridal Chamber and sit down at the Lord’s Table to enjoy the Marriage Supper of the Lamb’s Feast with Jesus the Christ, Her Bridegroom! Thus, to be able to eat the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, we must choose this day to live a holy and righteous lifestyle, and then be faithful to live/keep the lifestyle we have chosen.
A word to the wise should be sufficient! PEACE….