Pay attention as you read the parables of Jesus and you may discern a pattern. In the majority of these lessons, He defines an authority figure engaged with two groups of people. One group is made up of those serving and working for the one in charge. The members of this group then represent their boss to the other group — a larger, somewhat less connected collection of people.
In Matthew 22, Jesus speaks of a king, his son, and a wedding feast. The son is to be married and there will be a magnificent banquet of celebration. The king was throwing a party, and it would have been considered an honor to be on his invitation list.
Today, weddings are big productions. Dresses must be chosen, menus decided upon, and programs organized and printed. But a lot of negotiation goes into getting the guest list in order. Couples and families labor and haggle over who to invite. It can get quite messy trying to decide who gets to sit at the table.
All of this was done by the king in this parable and now his servants carried this message: “Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage” (Matthew 22:5).
To us, “Yes, I’ll be there,” seems to be the only right answer to such an announcement. It’s the king and his son after all. And, there would be meat for all to eat.
Laxity, Brutality and Leaven
The next sentences provide the shock and awe factor in this teaching of Jesus: “But they made light of it, and went their ways.”
What “ways” were so important that some would choose to blow off the call of a king? Jesus said that one went to his farm and another to his merchandise. The demands of work and money mattered more to these folks. Their responses were passive and indifferent. The invitation came; they shrugged and moved on with their lives.
These responses seem rude, but somewhat harmless when compared to the next group mentioned by the Savior. An aggressive “remnant” is referred to in Matthew 22:6. These people, agitated by the invite, reacted with violence and murder against the servants of the king.
This parable comes late in the public ministry of Jesus. The Savior and His ministry are clearly now on the radar of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious and civic leaders in Jerusalem and Judea. These leaders plotted to put Jesus away, seeking a way to kill Him and stifle His movement.Since the depravity of the human race is ignored, many casually question the reality of Jesus. Click To Tweet
As the time of the Cross drew near, Jesus increasingly directed His message at these leaders and the leaven they had introduced. Leaven is that part of dough that interacts with the air and makes the loaf rise. The fermentation process puffs up and flavors the bread. This is what the devil does with true doctrine for he is the prince and the power of the air. He introduces leaven to affect the taste of truth and stimulate deceptions and distractions.
During Jesus’ time on earth, worship life at the Temple in Jerusalem bore little resemblance to what was defined in the books of Moses. Motivations driven by tradition and profit turned this sacred place into something Jesus labeled “a den of thieves.” The space God intended to be a place of prayer for all nations was now dominated by money making and empty routines.
This leaven obscured the real and simple message that God had sent out – “Come to My table, rejoice in the Son, and eat freely of a feast prepared in grace.”
Go and Call People to Supper
God is still calling people to come to His table. But there is a lot of leaven out there flavoring the truth. And, there seems to be this general attitude in regard to Christ: “We will not have this man reign over us” (Luke 19:14). Since the depravity of the human race is ignored, many casually question the reality of Jesus and dismiss the validity of the Scriptures.
Dwell on these disappointments for too long and discouragement can settle upon us. However, the Holy Spirit remains active and engaged in and through the people of God. Let us continue to find our joy in the Lord. May we exalt His Name. Let’s ask the Spirit to guide us in our understanding and communication of the Word.
The parable in Matthew 22 concludes with something of a call to the servants of Jesus: “Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage” (Matthew 22:9).
May we take heed to fulfill this commission. We serve the King and are alive in His Son
We await the day when we shall sit with Him at the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Want to hear more about these things? Check out the following messages from Thomas Schaller, pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore: “The Faithful God Greater Than the House He Made” and “Unto We Who Believe, God is Precious.”