Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keeping us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.”
This is Just Jesus, Week 73, Matthew, Part 71. Today Pastor G does a deep dive on Matthew 22:1-33. Jesus interacts with Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadduccees who are trying to trip Him up with theological questions. Jesus responds with questions of His own and parables that illustrate where His accusers are falling short on their understanding of God and God’s Word.
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. ~ Matthew 22:1-3
Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. ~ Matthew 22:4-6
But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. ~ Matthew 22:7
Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. ~ Matthew 22:8-10
“But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. ~ Matthew 22:11-12
What are these “wedding clothes” and how do you get them? Why was the man speechless?
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me, To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord… ~ Isaiah 61:1-2a
I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. ~ Isaiah 61:10
Wedding clothes are the garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness. Revelation 19 refers to this wedding feast of the Lamb as well and it says of the Bride (the Church)
It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. ~ Revelation 19:8
We receive these wedding clothes when we put our faith in Christ. We are saved and made righteous by His sacrifice on our behalf. To not be wearing wedding clothes is a poetic way of saying I have not received Jesus for who He is and therefore I am not saved, justified, sanctified, made righteous. I’m a wedding crasher. I want the blessings of the celebration and rewards but I’m not willing to treat the bridegroom with respect. The wedding feast is an open invitation, but there is a dress code.
Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ~ Matthew 22:13
This is a common expression that refers to hell, a state of eternal separation from God.
For many are called, but few are chosen.” ~ Matthew 22:14
This has been a controversial statement of Jesus since the beginning. What does He mean, many are called but only a few are chosen. Calvinism attached this to pre-destination and says that God has only pre-ordained certain people to be saved. Even though the Gospel is supposed to be preached to everyone, they say, only certain people will actually respond favorably to the invitation and those are the elect or the chosen ones. They point to other passages of Scripture that supposedly back up this idea as well. You might believe your entire life that you are a believer and assured salvation but on judgment day you may find out you were not one of the chosen and you will be sent to hell. That’s one version of the interpretation that some segments of Calvinism believe. Other Calvinists would say, “No, if you are a believer you will definitly be saved, but it is only because God chose you to be a believer. Those who never became a believer, it’s because God did not choose them to be a believer.”
For Wesleyan- Arminian theologians like myself, we have a real problem with both of those interpretations. First, it’s a major violation of free will. The idea that I can only choose to follow Jesus if God decides I will follow Jesus means I don’t really have free will. God decided I would believe, not me. That doesn’t line up with anything else Scripture teaches about free will, reward or judgment. Second, it presents an incredibly cruel, and I would go so far as to say, evil version of God. That would mean that God intentionally created billions upon billions of human beings, the vast majority of whom He locked into an eternity in hell. They were not chosen, they were not the elect, and therefore had no chance whatsoever of being saved. Why would God do such a thing? Intentionally create a vast number of souls with the express purpose of torturing them for all eternity?
Third, it seems like a tremendous waste of time on God’s part. If He only planned to save certain people and planned to send everyone else to hell, regardless of how they lived their lives, or whether they accepted Jesus as their Lord, why mess around with this whole earth thing. Why not just instantly place some souls in heaven and some souls in hell right from the start? Finally, there are many Scriptures that clearly teach that every single person has the ability to be saved, not just a small group of chosen ones, what is often referred to as the elect.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9
His desire is everyone/all to be saved. His desire is that no one will perish. It’s up to us and our free will.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16
[God] … desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ~ 1 Timothy 2:4
For many are called, but few are chosen.” ~ Matthew 22:14
It means much, many, often, a multitude, a great amount.
It refers to being called, invited or summoned by God to an office, ministry or salvation.
In context, Jesus says what we just said a few minutes ago. Many are called and when He says many, He means a great multitude. In fact, we see that it is literally every single human being. God gives the calling to salvation (the invitation to come to the wedding feast) to all people. Everyone CAN receive His salvation. Unfortunately, many choose not to – but all can.
It means few, little, small.
Those chosen by or selected by God. It refers to those who have become God’s choice by freely receiving God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. ~ Matthew 7:13-14
God is calling everyone to Himself. God is inviting everyone to the wedding feast. God is calling everyone to be saved and is desiring that all will say yes to the invitation. However, only few, by comparison to all, will actually choose to say yes to the invitation, to seek out and enter through the small gate, the narrow way, that we know to be Jesus. All are invited, but when judgment day comes, only those who said yes to Jesus will be chosen, selected.
So this is not a statement of the pre-destination of individuals. This is a statement of the pre-destination of categories of people. God has predestined that all who say yes to Jesus will be saved. God has predestined that all who say no to Jesus, who reject Jesus and His offer of salvation, will not be saved. The elect, the chosen, are all those who will say yes to Jesus.
Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. ~ Matthew 22:15-16
The Herodians were a political party that supported King Herod Antipas, the Roman Empire’s ruler over much of the land of the Jews from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39. The Herodians favored submitting to the Herods, and therefore to Rome, for political expediency. They were often at odds with the Pharisees but in Jesus, they had a common enemy.
Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? ~ Matthew 22:17
The poll-tax was a yearly tax of one denarius, the normal daily wage for a day laborer. Rome levied it on every adult from puberty to age sixty-five. Most Jews loathed the poll tax because it symbolized Rome’s control of Judea. So, if Jesus says yes it’s lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, many of the Jews would see this as a betrayal by the one they see as the conquering king Messiah, come to lead Israel out from under Roman oppression. If He says no, don’t pay taxes to Caesar, they can charge Him with sedition and treason against the Herods and the Roman Empire. So how will Jesus respond?
18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. ~ Matthew 22:18-19
And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” ~ Matthew 22:20-21
And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away. ~ Matthew 22:22
On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, ~ Matthew 22:23
The Pharisees believed in the supernatural — angels, demons, heaven, hell, and so on — while the Sadducees did not. The Sadducees were largely secular in their practice of religion. They denied any notion of an afterlife. When you die you just cease to exist, all consciousness ends is what they believed. So, again, no heaven, no hell, no angels, no demons for the Sadducees. The Pharisees took the Old Testament Scriptures literally so they believed in angels, demons, heaven, hell, the promise of an afterlife of paradise for those who remained faithful.
[the Sadducees were] asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.” ~ Matthew 22:24-28
Now, remember, they don’t believe in the resurrection at all. So this is not an earnest question.
Most Pharisees would have said if a woman had two husbands in this life she would be restored to the first in the next life. So the Sadducees propose a ludicrous version of that common debate, seven dead husbands.
But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. ~ Matthew 22:29-30
… that they may be one even as We are … “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us … ~ John 17:11, 20, 21
In His response to the Sadducees, first, Jesus is pointing out that clear evidence to the resurrection, and what the resurrection is, can be found by reading and properly understanding the Scriptures.
Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. ~ Daniel 12:2
…our dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits. ~ Isaiah 26:19
Jesus says, in the next life, we will all be one with Him and with the Father. The powerful unity of marriage will be amplified beyond measure throughout the entire body of Christ with the one marriage of us to Jesus. All of Creation, humans and angels alike, will be one, in complete unity, better, more unified, and more fulfilling, than even the best of human marriages.
But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” ~ Matthew 22:31-32
In other words, God doesn’t say I WAS the God of Abraham. I WAS the God of Isaac. I WAS the God of Jacob. He says I AM their God. I STILL AM their God because they are not dead. I will raise them back to life.
The second point Jesus is making when He says this is that whenever this popular Jewish phrase, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” is used, it is for the purpose of emphasizing God’s faithfulness to His promises. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is still God today. He stood by the Patriarchs and He stands by all who follow Him in this world and in the next. If God did not have power over BOTH life AND death then death would be King and not God. God doesn’t rule over a cemetery of dead bodies. How lame would that be? He’d be no different than 1,000 other human kings and rulers. Only God is eternal and He will bring His followers into eternity as well. Jesus says God is the God of the living, not the God of the dead.
33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching. ~ Matthew 22:33
It means utterly amazed or astonished. As was usually the case, the crowds were blown away by the wisdom and logic and teaching ability of Jesus.