“The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious.” (Matthew 22:2-6)
Lately, something has been “highlighted” to me and is becoming more clear. It’s difficult to put into words adequately, but my best effort is this: “Everything needed in order to participate in the kingdom of God and to honor and please the King has already been purchased and prepared.” Our primary need isn’t to obtain correct beliefs and improved behavior (or to “do” anything at all), it’s to recognize the nature of the King’s invitation and to value it above everything else. In short, the King’s call is to partake of the finished work of Christ; to be joined to him. I think you could rightly say the King gives invitations, not demands. You can choose to ignore the invitation, but you’ll be shut out of the Kingdom.
If you look at the exact words Jesus uses in this parable, the meaning becomes clearer:
- King arranging a marriage for His son = God ordaining that the bridegroom (Christ) and bride (church) be united. (Remember, this is in context of the Kingdom). The King’s will is for His firstborn son to be the source and the Preeminent one over a Kingdom consisting of many sons and daughters.
- King sending out servants two separate times = God’s old covenant apostles and prophets declaring the need for obedience, then later His new covenant apostles and prophets the need for repentance. (Notice that only the second time, God’s servants are to proclaim that the preparations are finished and the marriage feast is ready to partake of. The new covenant is one of fulfillment and reality (spirit and truth); the old was figures and shadows (natural and representative).
- Oxen and fatted cattle have been killed = sacrifice has been offered and atonement made.
- All things are ready = Everything we need is purchased and prepared. It is only for us to see, believe, and cooperate. See these scriptures below, for starters: 2 Peter 1:3, Colossians 2:3, Philippians 2:13, Colossians 2:10, Hebrews 10:14, John 15:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (see footnote).
To “make light of” the King’s invitation to the wedding is incredibly dishonoring to Him and makes Him “furious,” perhaps like nothing else. This isn’t because the King is shallow or easily offended, but because of the love and esteem He has for His son, and the price of the wedding arrangements (the suffering of Christ, for starters). The Greek word for “made light of” means to be flippant, careless, to disregard or to neglect. If you want to honor the King, start by earnestly, desperately, urgently seeking to understand the nature and value of His invitation to the wedding/kingdom.
The end for many in this parable is tragic. Though they were called, they never participated in the wedding/kingdom. Jesus did give some parables showing the response of those who became Kingdom participants:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46).
I pray you and I would be able to perceive what a supreme honor it is to be called to be united with Christ and to participate in the Kingdom of God. What’s important isn’t how bad or good we are. In fact, later in the parable both good and bad were called and came. Again, what’s of primary importance is the value and urgency we place on this call. Refuse to let the cares and duties of this life have place in your heart and mind, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind to see the greatness of the call and the glory of God (Romans 12:2). Through union with Christ, the Father will illuminate Truth to your spirit by His spirit, bringing you into His image from glory to glory, as what is finished in Christ progressively becomes manifest within you (2 Corinthians 3:18). Amen.
- 2 Peter 1:3 “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us…”
- Colossians 2:3 “in whom (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
- Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
- Colossians 2:10 “and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.“
- Hebrews 10:14 “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.“
- John 15:5 ““I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.“
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”